Before my kids were born, I was a 6th grade teacher to some pretty great kids! I will always remember my first year of teaching. I fell in love with my students, my school, and my job. I could be found in my classroom from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.. I LOVED it. I cannot imagine a world without kids. Kids keep it real…they are honest, they are fun, they are enthusiastic, and they made everyday new. My first year, as well as many other teachers, was the hardest year. Even though I student taught, nobody prepares you for that first day of your own classroom. My first couple of weeks was a waste when I look back. I didn’t push my students. It was material and information that they probably could have done in their sleep. I was following the frameworks, but it never really specified the level I needed to teach. With that being said, I am going to share a few tips for new teachers I wish I would have known.
CHALLENGE YOUR STUDENTS: THEY CAN DO IT!
My first tip is challenge your students. I always wanted to ask my students higher level questions. To do this, I would look at a grade or two above their level…examining state test questions, framework, and text. There were days I would ask my students questions that I found from the 10th grade state english test, and they could do it. I believed in them. Don’t get me wrong, there were days I felt like we were stopped in our tracks…I would wonder if I was pushing too hard…but I still pushed. Always look at the end result….what do you want your students to know…what questions do you want the students to be able to answer….THEN create your lessons.
My class was always student centered. What will help them learn… not what was I comfortable with as a teacher. Students learn more thru interaction whether it be activities or conversation. I would say 90% of my class was centered based. Students discussed texts, rotated to different centers, completed activities, etc. I am a big believer in movement…keeping the students engaged and moving (I’ve seen so many classrooms that are set up in rows…students are filling out a worksheet..and they are literally on the verge of drowning the classroom with their drool). My students would spend 10 minutes give or take at one center, and I would play music (that they liked) to inform them they needed to transition to a new center. It was pretty entertaining seeing my students dance their way to the next center. Not only did I make sure students were engaged by collaboration with one another and movement, but I made sure the text was engaging. Who wants to read a boring informative or literature text that was written in the 1950’s? I feel some teachers pick text THEY enjoy, and the students have no interest in the text. Find out what the students want to read about….we read articles on farting, zombies, dating, and other topics that the students actually WANTED to read. They would come in my classroom excitingly asking “Mrs. Mozingo, what are we doing today?” What a great compliment and reminder you are doing the write thing.
One year I taught an all girl class and an all boy class. I saw the MANY differences between the two genders. Girls learned more thru communication with one another while boys learned more thru active learning. I found both loved competition. Even the laziest student would perk up when they knew there was a prize at stack. I tried at least 2 times a week to have some sort of competitive game that was not only fun but consisted of higher level thinking for the students to grasp concepts. We ALWAYS read a text before we played the game. My personal favorites were musical chairs and target shooting. In musical chairs, we would read a text and either I had all students in one big circle or many circles around the classroom. Each desk would have a number. I would call on the number for student to stand and answer the question. Each question answered correctly earned the student a point. Music was played after each question for students to rotate…which was always funny to watch. Usually I would have other students write down their thoughts before I ask a students just so I can see what level everyone was on.
Target shooting was a game the students loved to play. I would have a target (hunting circular target) on the white board. Students were in groups of four. After we read text, one student from each group would stand and have the opportunity to answer the question with justification. Each student that answered correctly received the opportunity to shot the target with the nerf gun. The student that hit the target closest to the center received 4 extra points for his/her group. I also used this same strategy but used the mini basketball goals instead that I would tape to the wall. The students that got the ball in the hoop received four extra points for their group.
EARN RESPECT/LOVE YOUR STUDENTS
Why would a student want to learn in a classroom where they believe the teacher hates them? I feel like this happens way too often. Every year I hear students say “She hates me. I hate going to her class”. It honestly breaks my heart that a student would think a teacher actually hated them. Are their kids that do not click with their teacher due to personality differences…yes of course…that’s life. Should a student believe she hates him because of that difference? NO! I had differences with students each year, but I found love for them. Students need to know you love them…. they also need to know they should respect you as their teacher. There is fine line between showing your student you care and being too “friends” with the student. I had to show students “I mean what I say and say what I mean”. If you act crazy, there are consequences each and every time. But at the end of the day, I would treat them like my own…..You were punished because _________, but I know you are a good kids. Start every day over as if nothing happened the day before.
I learned each and every year something new. Every year I watched my students grow…not only on their state tests but as people. The most important lesson as a teacher to learn is change with your students. Do not stay comfortable.
More Posts You May Like: