Think back to when you were in college, just pursuing your teaching career. What advice for student teachers do you wish YOU would have heard? That’s exactly what Joshua asked on our Teacher Helpline. He said, “I am currently a college freshman pursuing elementary education. Is there anything you wish someone would have told you when you were a freshman? Thank you so much!”
Joshua, our teachers have you covered. Here were some of their best responses.
1. Observe new and seasoned teachers.
“Watching the seasoned veterans is great and useful, but don’t forget to observe new teachers, too. It will give you realistic ideas about what it will be like for you right out of the gate.” —Emily C.
2. Gather supplies early!
“Begin gathering supplies that can be used as manipulatives in math. Buttons, bottle caps, containers for measurement…anything like that. Over the years I’ve seen new teachers scrambling to find materials.” —Kimberly S.
“Find libraries that have book sales. It’s a great way to build your classroom library. Collect books for K-6 because you never know what level your kids will be at.” —Hannah W.
“Start hoarding supplies from yard sales, half off after the holidays, Black Friday and after back-to-school sales…when everything is dirt cheap.” —Amanda M.
3. Don’t hone in too much.
“Try not to skip out on special education, English language learners and students from low socioeconomic status. Students demographics are changing and the strategies you will learn with those populations will benefit your practice no matter what students you teach.” —Eric R.
“I have a literacy minor (reading endorsement) and am extremely glad I do. I’ve talked to many people in hiring positions, and if you are looking to be a classroom teacher you should get a reading endorsement. Also, Special Education endorsements are great if you have a passion for working with those incredible students.” —Alex D.
4. Consider the alternatives.
“If you don’t get a teaching job right after you graduate, take a paraprofessional job. You will learn so much by doing this. It helped me out tremendously!” —Jennifer L.
5. It’s ok to say “no” AND to ask for help.
“New teachers are often the go-to teachers for extra curricular activities. Know your limits, physically and emotionally. I always took pride in being asked to do things, but there is a such thing as burn out. The classroom students come first.” —Gina G.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask for ideas, resources and feedback from your co-workers. Also try your best to be a ‘keys to car’ teacher, meaning at least once a week the only thing you take to your car from work are your keys. You need one day a week to just take care of you.” —Shane C.
6. Find a mentor, fast.
“Even if you’re just a student teacher, find a mentor in the school you’re at. Don’t worry if that teacher is your actual mentor—just find one who is similar to you, who is willing to help.” —Angie R.
7. Make friends, too.
“Make friends with the people who are in your college classes now. You will learn to collaborate with these colleagues in your future profession.” —Erica C.
8. Get as much classroom time as you can.
“Get in the classroom ASAP, and as often as possible! If you can’t work, at least volunteer. It opens many doors!” —Kayla C.
“Visit as many schools with a variety of backgrounds as you can throughout your college years. The more time you spend in classrooms, the better.” —Whitney M.
9. Consider getting your Masters.
“Stay in school and get your Masters. The pay increase is worth the extra time. Also, keep your mind open. I have a Masters in teaching yet I took a position as an elementary librarian and I love it.” —Roger J.
10. Make real relationships with your students.
“Take the time to talk with your students and build relationships with them. You can write the best lesson plans, but if your students don’t like or respect you, it will be much more difficult for them to learn.” —Jennifer C.
“Remember to just love kids. If you love kids and invest in them as your own, al of the hardships will be more bearable.” —Nikki B.
11. Remember to LOVE it.
“Teaching is unlike any other job and it will be the toughest job of your life. You may want to quit, but don’t. Teaching becomes your life and the students become your kids. Develop a strong management system, be firm but always fair. Be organized and consistent. Say what you mean and mean what you say. This profession is rewarding, frustrating, stressful, all-consuming, fun, tiring, joyful, heartwarming and scary all at the same time. You’ll never be paid what you’re worth but if this career is one you truly love, then you’ll be rich beyond belief.” —KD P.
What are your thoughts teachers? What advice would you add? Share in the comments below!