Welcome to the wonderful world of teaching. It is the most rewarding and most important job of all the jobs in the world. It can also be one of the most challenging. This book and your peers will walk with you as you take the first step into the journey of a thousand miles.
I wanted to create this book because I remember my first day of teaching. I didn’t have the opportunity to teach. My first time in the classroom as the official instructor was my first day ever being an instructor. I learned about the theories of learning and some teaching techniques. Yet I got no real advice about a teacher’s life. Nothing on how to face my first day, and how to overcome the challenges of being a teacher.
My love for education has driven my in-depth research on how to continue growing as an educator. I have been studying art and science from the beginning of my career. I want to find new ways to help my students achieve academic, social, and professional success.
I would love to tell you that I have seen it all, done it all, and have all the answers for you, but that would be a lie. Every teacher is different. Every teacher has his or her philosophy and purpose of teaching. Every teacher has a unique way of combining the art and the science of teaching. Every classroom, full of students, is different. This means that you will have a lot of amazing and challenging experiences that no one else has had.
This book teaches you how to use the first day of class to set up a safe, learning environment for every student. It explains the characteristics of great teachers.
You will learn how to get to know your students as individuals. Not only will that improve your teaching, but it will also empower students. They will thrive when you show them that each one of them is unique and has something wonderful to offer the world.
One chapter covers the basic challenges of being a teacher and offers solutions. Some strategies for effective teaching are also offered.
I also cover the five Cs: Communication, critical thinking, collaboration, choice, and creativity. These five skills are among the most needed in the workforce. They are also the five skills that many of our young people entering the workforce are lacking. Incorporating them to better plan and help students’ academic, social and professional lives.
Helping you achieve engaging student-teacher relationships is very important to me. My experience taught me the true meaning of being a teacher and helping to shape the leaders of tomorrow.
Chapter One: Welcome to the Amazing World of Teaching
If you are reading this, you know that teaching is more than just a job or a career. It is a calling. It is something that you feel deep inside of you. It is the need to make a difference in the world.
Teaching is not usually one of the higher-paid jobs. Yet, the rewards for teaching are astronomical. Think of the first time you get a thank you note from a student who tells you that you made a world of difference to her.
As a teacher, you have the most important job in the world. Without teachers, there could be no doctors, no lawyers, and no bankers. Regardless of where a person ends up, their beginning is always with a teacher. They help the individual learn to read, do the math, and take responsibility.
The question is, what does it mean to be a teacher?
The Definition of a Teacher
There are so many television shows and movies about good and bad teachers. Unremarkable teachers are featured in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Charlie Brown cartoons. Real teachers who made a difference can be found in The Freedom Writers, Stand and Deliver, and Dangerous Minds.
How well they engaged students did not change the denotative, or objective, definition of a teacher. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, this is “one that teaches; especially: one whose occupation is to instruct.”
There’s more to teaching than standing, talking, writing notes, and handing out worksheets.
The connotative, or subjective, meaning is to get students excited about exploring the world around them. Here, they learn new skills that lead them to success after school.
Teaching means you engage students so they use what they learned. It means that you have to get them involved in actively constructing knowledge. The teacher has to change students from passive to active learners.
The connotative definition of a teacher is also one who continuously learns from research and the students. Teachers must continue to learn through the different professional development programs. There will be other opportunities offered by universities and museums. There are different organizations that you can belong to. These include the National Council for Teachers of English. They offer educational seminars. Use a journal to keep up with all of the latest trends and theories.
Colleagues are also a great resource for learning – and not always the veteran teachers. That same friend, who was teaching middle school ELA, worked with a first-year teacher. The new teacher had a great rapport with the students. She also had the highest growth of all the teachers at that school at the end of the year. My friend sat in on some of her classes, looked at her lesson plans, and “stole” some of her ideas. The new teacher was full of energy and passion. She was willing to try new ideas and unique ways of teaching that were hugely successful.
Part of the definition of a teacher is forming the relationship between the student and the teacher. The students look to the teacher as a mentor. Invite the students to become part of the learning process. That includes learning from your students.
One of the greatest ways that you can learn new teaching methods is from your students. One of my friends is a long-time teacher. She had three degrees when she started teaching – her master’s degree was in secondary education. She was applying her theories and techniques to the students. One very frustrated student stood up and said, “Miss, we don’t learn this way.”
She asked her to show her how they learn. The students did. Every year, she gets great reviews. The first thing she does every year is asking the students how they learn best. Some students don’t take it seriously, but most do. Not only is she able to use their information, but it builds strong relationships.
In truth, there are a million different ways to define teaching. It is a process. It is a passion. It is life-altering, for you and your students. It is the most rewarding profession there is because you are changing the world, one young person at a time.
The Purpose of Teaching
Why do you try to entice sleepy young people? Why do you read the standards, create lessons, and use a grade book?
The answer is to help students learn. Yet the purpose of teaching is more complicated than that.
My friend’s ninth-grade algebra teacher sat at his desk. He told the students to open the textbook, look at the examples, and then do problems one through twenty. She struggled with math and didn’t learn anything. His purpose in teaching was to draw a paycheck. She didn’t learn anything, except to fear algebra.
She switched schools and in her junior year, she took trig and pre-calc. She earned an A because her teacher went out of her way to help my friend persevere. She doesn’t remember a lot except that the teacher believed in her. She just had to look at the problems in different ways and never give up, no matter how hard the problem is.
In the day of No Child Left Behind and the Common Core, most schools are focused on test results. The government wants test results. This means that the school board wants test results. The superintendent wants test results, which means that the principal wants test results. What does that mean for you? You are pressured to get test results, too. Sometimes, the art and science of teaching are sacrificed as are the students’ needs.