If you didn’t know, I was a teacher for four years. My first year, I taught 2nd grade. My second, third, and fourth years, I taught 8th-12th grade Social Studies. Right now, I’m not in the classroom so for the 2019-2020 school year, we’re going to call that my gap year because I’m taking an unintentional break from being in the classroom. I say unintentionally because I didn’t realize how much my palate yearned to be in there.
Anywho, in these four years, I learned a lot about our education system and myself. I felt like I was growing as a person while I was helping these young minds grow. So I wanted to share some things I learned and maybe it can help you with navigating life as a teacher.
1 – You’re Not Going To Have All The Answers
Your students look to you as an expert in whatever subject you teach; however, when you can be honest with them and say “I actually don’t know that”, it now makes you human to them. They feel they can relate to their teacher because you both have things you don’t know about. However, don’t leave it at that. Turn it into a learning experience by adding “let’s look it up”. This was huge for me when teaching Social Studies because the truth is, I didn’t know much about history. So if someone asked something I didn’t know, I would turn on our promethean and look it up with them.
2 – You Are Responsible For Your Own Success
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what school you’re working at or how your students act, you determine how successful you will be in the classroom. You first need to define your version of success and then do what you feel is necessary to get there.
For me, my definition of success was providing my students their basic needs to properly function in the classroom so I put things in the classroom that my students may need but may not vocalize. I had a bin with snacks, I kept cases of water, I had a mirror and a small table with body lotion & body spray. I even had a pouch with feminine products for the girls. I funded it myself (didn’t cost much to be honest) and every time I had to restock, I felt successful because I knew that I met my students basic needs and now they can be attentive not only in my class but other classes as well.
3 – Ask For Help
ASK FOR HELP! PERIOD! Especially since you don’t and won’t know it all. As someone who likes to control things (excuse my Type A personality but know that I am working on it), I learned quickly that I don’t know this stuff but I will say that I have no problem asking for help.
My first year teaching, I never limited myself to only reaching out to those who taught my grade level or my subjects but I reached out to any and everyone — even Google. My willingness to ask for help put me in a position to learn a variety of perspectives that I then meshed into my own pool of greatness.
Teaching showed me how to be a forever learner. It actually pushed me to pursue my Master’s Degree, something I never dreamed of. It helped me become a better person. Learning from my colleagues and students put me in a position to grow. You have to be open to change and dedicated to becoming better each day if you want to be a great educator and just a great person overall. For all the teachers out there, it does not matter why you started. What matters is where you are right now and what you want to do about it. If you ever need someone to talk to or more tips, please reach out.
Until Next Time,