Sunday, November 24, 2013

New Teachers: How To Keep The Fire Burning

Teachers: Keep The Fire Burning

It's interesting starting a new career in your thirties, especially education. There are positives and negatives, but overall I believe I'm a better educator because of it. In fact, I often fall into conversations with other parents that leads them to say, "Are you sure you are a teacher? You don't sound like the ones I know." I usually respond by stating, "Well, honestly, I'm not sure I've drunk the teacher Kool-Aid yet."

Side Note: (My definition of "teacher Kool-Aid" is educators who believe that they are victims of their students behaviors. They tend to blame failures in the classroom on the children, their parents, and the administrators. Kind of a glass half empty philosophy. These feelings spill over into the classroom. The students and parents are deeply affected in negative ways as a result.)

I know I may have just struck a nerve. So let me explain...

Growing up I got very burnt by the system. The wound was deep, and kept me from pursuing a career in education for many years. In fact, I believe that if I'd had a teacher, a dear teacher that believed in my capabilities, and woke me up, it may have been different.

Now, I know that I can't change the system, but I can absolutely change what happens in my classroom.

As a teacher, I have a purpose, and that purpose is to be an advocate for each of my student's learning. To look each one of them straight in the eye, and see who they are through and through. For each one of my students to know..yes...I do matter...someone is watching me...I'm not invisible.

I'm sure many new teachers can relate to this desire. New teachers are on fire! But, many also quit teaching by their fifth year. Why is that?

Well, honestly, I think sadly many new teachers end up drinking the Kool-Aid.

So, how can new teachers stay passionate and keep their fire going? Here are 5 ideas.

1. Stay Passionate Despite Obstacles: Staying passionate is a choice, and that choice takes commitment. New teachers often hear the following, "Yeah, you're passionate now, but give it a few years. It'll wear off." What a terrible message for new teachers! But, isn't this same message heard so often in life. "'re newly married. How sweet! Just give it a few years. All that lovey dovey stuff will wear off." "Ahhh...what a sweet little baby. She is adorable! But, ohhh..just wait until she's three. It all changes." Why do people do this?

2. Be Courageous: Voice Your Ideas: There will be teachers who don't want to hear your new ideas or may see you as a threat. Although difficult at times, I would encourage all teachers to be strong and voice their new ideas. Change is a good thing. Share!

3. Find Outlets Outside of School: It is difficult for any school to meet all the needs of a new teacher, but so what? We can't sit and whine about it. Teachers must find alternative learning sources and outlets. I have found blogging to be a great tool for reflecting, learning, and researching. Yes, it may be a bit of a time investment, but it is a worthy one. Twitter is another great source for learning. It allows new teachers to connect with other teachers outside of school with similar interests and passions.

4. Close Your Doors and Teach:  New teachers must keep account of their feelings. Each day changes, and each day creates different challenges. It is ok to just shut out everything, and concentrate on the students. Make the day great for them.

5. Create a Mission Statement: What is your purpose? Why are you teaching? This may change over the years. Why not revisit this every year? We must know our true purpose in being educators. Rededicate yourself to what really matters in the classroom.

Above all, I think we, as educators seeking excellence, must know that anything worth doing well, will have its challenges just as with everything worth commiting to in life. However, we must believe that we can rise above negative behaviors, stay strong, and do what it takes to keep the fire burning strong!

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