Thursday, October 1, 2009

10 Things New Teachers Need to Know

1. You will get sick during the first month of school. Starting a teaching career is like sucking on a roll of nickels. Eventually your body becomes immune, but until then it is going to make you very, very sick.

2. When your administrator says he/she has something "cool" for you try, you are about to be suckered into volunteering for something no other teacher was willing to commit to (but you'll do it because you're nontenured).

3. Secretaries and custodians run the school. Be very nice to them.

4. Inspirational posters don't inspire you or the kids. Don't waste your money. Other than the iconic-because-it's-so-stupid Never Give Up poster, do you remember any of the posters hanging around you during your k-12 experience? Exactly.

5. If your students ask if it is your first year teaching, lie. Admitting that you have no experience standing in front of a group of kids will incite a feeding frenzy worthy of Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.

6. No matter how great your lesson is, if it involves something on page 69 of the textbook, your students are going spend the period giggling and whispering. To make it worse, if you teach a grade lower than high school, they probably won't know why they're laughing. It's just something American culture seems to breed into them. Kind of like standing for the pledge.

7. You will spend hours each night carefully marking homework and student work with comments, feedback, and well-intentioned notes of encouragement. After handing them back, your students will throw them away immediately without reading a single word of your carefully crafted response.

8. Your coworkers have been working together for a long time, without you there. Be prepared for awkward moments when they reflect on the "good old days" which, incidentally, were from a time before you worked there. Don't take it personally. Similarly, if you filled a position vacated by a retiree, be ready for people to spend the first 10 weeks or so telling you how much they miss seeing your predecessor.

9. If you wake to find some fresh acne on your face, don't worry that kids might notice. Rest assured that they will absolutely notice - and they'll call you out on it in the middle of class.

10. You will learn to hold it. Teachers tend to drink lots of coffee, and bathroom breaks are never as often as they need to be.
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1 Responses:

Katherine said...

I'd like to point out that you're absolutely correct about everything from my (student) standpoint--except for the posters. The cheesy, terrible posters that you buy from supply stores? Yeah, they're bad. The ones that administrators require you to hang on your walls? Sometimes even worse. But, I'll always remember the poster that my Algebra I teacher had: a list of cheesy math jokes that no one thought were funny. That was, of course, because we didn't understand the material. By the end of the year, everyone at least chuckled a bit.

My high school English teacher also assigned students in his first few years of classes to make art work related to the reading material specifically to decorate his classroom with. That was pretty fantastic. By the time that I got there, he had crazy stuff all over his room--paper mache skulls, framed paintings of cows being slaughtered (The Odyssey), you name it.

So, store bought posters? Bad. Handmade posters? Good.