The very best teachers never need to be told that they are good. They know it. Any teacher with experience has a bagful of strategies; the better the teacher, the more effective the strategies.
Beginning of the year strategies are not at all complicated. A third to half of what requires a teacher’s attention are routine, made up of routine duties required by the “main office” or in the form of directives issued by the principal.
At this stage, any returning teacher who lacks confidence in his or her own abilities or has to rely upon a virtually anonymous prompt, like this one, to get things started and smoothly well under way for the school year ahead shouldn’t be in the classroom. Sadly, some of them are.
The reason these teachers are back is that the principal failed to properly evaluate his or her staff. You may think that I’m joking, but I am not. I have thirty-five years in the fields of teaching and supervision.
If I were new to the school or if this were my very first teaching assignment and I don’t have the confidence that, based upon my experience as a student, that I am not far better than any of the teachers at any level that I have ever had, I shouldn’t have accepted the job that I am about to start. For I know, the kids depend on me to be the best teacher they have ever had.
Now, I may think that I am the best teacher there ever was, principally because I know my subject, and then I am nothing if I don’t require discipline. I knew a teacher who wrote the standard in Algebra books; he could teach some students but never managed to teach all. His character never allowed him to maintain discipline.
If you are a beginning teacher, and new to the school, start by believing in yourself. Then get into the building early enough before school starts and get acquainted with key staff members.
Introduce yourself to the Principal’s secretary. Get to know the protocols. Get to know the head custodian and the school nurse-the custodian because he knows everything, and the school nurses because there’s a whole range of health issues that you are likely to encounter.
If there is a lead teacher or department chair, they will have started knowing all about you.
Study the curriculum. Prepare lessons plans ahead of time every week. Some schools will require that you submit a copy. Teach all your students for mastery. Don’t just aim for the middle. Teach concepts clearly and effectively, re-teach as necessary. Never leave students floundering. Get them on track and working with you.
Be tough but fair. Return homework as soon as you have graded it. Always provide some form of assessment and plan to re-teach as necessary. Reinforce the skills you teach. Hold all modes of learning as important. Insist on correct forms of expression.
Above all, good teachers believe in their own abilities. There is no better job than teaching. If teachers know the truth of this last statement, they will be ready at all times to teach all of their students to the very best of their abilities. The kids will love them for it, even those who might give them a little trouble, and the parents will be on their side.