The reality of teaching and learning in the classroom is that it’s difficult to keep up with new educational trends, while also staying relevant. The rise of MOOCs has made career-changing education accessible for all learners, but many teachers are caught off guard by how these platforms have changed what they do at their school.
The “Why don t schools teach us how to make money” is a blog post written by a teacher who never got any training on how to be a teacher. The article talks about what the author wishes they had been taught before starting their teaching career.
What I didn’t learn in college about teaching…
Abigail Dalman and Josh Patterson
After the first week of school, I asked one of my freshmen to write down some of the key points. What did you least expect? What did the third graders tell you? Did I teach you in class? Although your time in college prepared you for many things, what were some of the things that surprised you?
1. You have to adapt, and then adapt again.
Abigail: It is hard to be the teacher of 23 students when they are not present for the class I have scheduled. The time spent in class with the 23 students is approximately 20 minutes.
When setting up the group classes, I quickly discovered that several students were absent due to lack of resources, RTI, ESOL or other reasons. This change in numbers forced me to change my plans and taught me to be flexible and calm in my response. Staying flexible is perhaps my biggest win. If something isn’t working, change directions and try something new! Failure isn’t giving up, it’s finding another path that I didn’t take the first time around.
Josh: Don’t be too hard on yourself. As you learn to adapt to your students’ schedules, you will appreciate the power of guided learning and differentiation. Keep your groups flexible and try to personalize learning to meet the diverse needs of students. If this seems too complicated, take your time. Start with one station, introduce it, have students practice and provide feedback. And don’t forget it: Those who work more, learn more.
2) Organization is the key.
Abigail: Initially I bought nine different folders to store the papers in, thought that would be enough. However, I am convinced that even if I had a castle full of files, it would not be enough. I usually grab a post-it every five minutes to mark another document, office paper, or completed student work. With all that paperwork, organization will be an important skill for me to develop.
Josh: There is no doubt that organization is important. Whether it’s the daily files, the communication between parents and teachers, the daily agenda, or the seemingly endless stack of notes, everything has to have a place. Depending on the season, some weeks will be better than others. Don’t hesitate to ask experienced teachers about their organizational methods and find a system that works for you. After 15 years, I’m still at it!
3) You’ll get more injuries than ever in professional sports.
Abigail: All of these phrases seem to appeal to the third graders in room 304. My eye is burning. My cheek hurts. My arm is attached to the swing. I banged my knee. He pushed me. My throat hurts. I cut myself with paper. I have a headache. Fortunately, there is a paper towel with cold water. I’ve learned that in 99% of cases, it’s a miracle cure!
Josh: The truth! Look how quickly you understand! The important thing here is to do everything you can to minimize distractions. Each day, as emergencies arise, try to determine which ones really need your attention and which ones can be handled with a damp paper towel or a sip of water.
4) Your planning time is about one minute.
Abigail: After leaving my kids with our wonderful teachers, I feel like I have to run down the hall to get them. I’m struggling with the things on my ever-growing list. Time is a battle. But I have learned the importance of setting boundaries.
I have priorities in the classroom and personal priorities. I have to draw a line between the two so that one doesn’t infringe on the other. I know I’ll be the best teacher in my class if I leave my teacher’s list behind and get on the treadmill for thirty minutes. When I have time to myself, I love my students even more. …. Even when I discover upon entering the classroom that my checklists are incomplete.
Josh: It is not easy to find a balance between work and private life. You would do well to see the importance of it. A growth mindset requires us to regularly reflect and take small steps toward continuous, incremental improvement. In the fight against burnout, we must pay attention to our mind, our heart and our soul. Your students (and our profession) need you to give your best every day ….. give.
5) Students love to show love.
Abigail: I was very pleasantly surprised by the love my students showed me by hugging me.
I’m sure the teachers are underpaid, but the students make up for it with hugs. There is no monetary value that you can apply to building a relationship with your child. These kids have stories, families, memories, lives and hearts that they usually wear on their sleeves. I can’t imagine my life without them, now that I know with how much love they embrace me like that.
Josh: Maya Angelou once said: I understood that people will forget what you said, what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel. As a teacher, you are challenged. Investing, investing, and trying to improve the lives of twenty-somethings in a relatively short period of time can be messy and difficult. However, their influence will potentially be greater than you can imagine. Handle this enormous responsibility with care and do not hesitate to show unconditional love to your students.
Abigail Dahlman is a third grade teacher. Classroom at Oakland Elementary School in Spartanburg, SC. Abigail recently graduated from Furman University and is in her first year of teaching. Interacting with Dahlman on Twitter @abigaildahlman.
Josh Patterson, PhD, is the principal of Oakland Elementary School. A graduate of Furman University and the University of South Carolina, he is the new head of the ASCD Class of 2014 and a member of the South Carolina ASCD Board of Directors. Keep in touch with Patterson on Twitter @ACE_Patterson.
Frequently Asked Questions
What college never taught me?
A: That it is impossible to predict the future.
What are your top 5 picks which are hardly taught but to be undeniably taught in schools?
A: 1. The Pythagorean theorem (a2 + b2 = c2) – A mathematical formula that allows calculating the hypotenuse of a right triangle given any two sides and the length of its other leg. – Used in many fields like engineering, architecture, physics and more recently computer graphics before they were able to easily generate 3D models on computers…
What schools dont teach us?
A: The school you go to does not teach everything.
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