I also believe in the power of a mentor. I had an excellent principal to take me under his wing when I started my career. He taught me the difference between a lesson and an assignment. Then he helped me "play" with the lesson line - switch things up, move things around. He taught me that an objective does not have to be explicitly stated right away. He taught me that mystery in a lesson can be a powerful thing. He gave me the same things I will give you:
- Freedom For years our fourth grade team has prided ourselves on our individuality, and I hope we can continue to respect that with our new team. The world would be a boring place if we were all the same. We are expected to adjust our teaching to meet the needs of our students, so why would we not recognize our own strengths and weaknesses, as well. With our differences, we will be able to lean on each other more moving forward.
- Understanding and Patience I get that you won't be a master teacher in your first year. While you have some inherent skills to lean on, I can help you develop in some of those areas you need. I hope you can be as patient with yourself.
- Space For the most part, you're going to be on your own in your classroom. That's the nature of the job, so I don't want to hover over you and pick you apart for every little detail and move you make. You need to have some space to feel like you're in control anyway; I'm happy to grant you that space.
- Ears At the same time, I'm here across the hall, right next door, close enough that if you need a sounding board, I'm it. Yes, there is an age difference - a generation gap between us - but I hope that can also mean that you can acknowledge the wisdom of having someone to listen to your struggles and ventings. After all, I am a teacher (been one longer than you've been alive), so I know a little something about listening. You may not be comfortable being professionally vulnerable, but you can.
There are going to be areas in which you can improve. I can help you with this.
- Lesson Planning How are you at planning lessons and filling your day? Yes, you did those ridiculous plans for your college education courses - the ones with every single nuance of a lesson - but can you imagine writing separate lesson plans like that for every 20- to 30-minute lesson of every school day? We can do better. The truth is, lesson planning should be a troubleshooting step assigned by a supervising administrator to find a solution to an identified issue. You're going to want to do smarter plans, have some idea of what you are doing, but not to become rigidly locked into a written plan.
- Time Management You're going to want to get to your extra duties a couple of minutes early. You're going to need to get your kids to the busses on time at the end of the day. You're need to be ready for lunch and other classes. That all means time management. It's not going to be easy when you're just getting started, but remember that you are the captain of your ship. You decide if a lesson needs more time. You decide which lessons can be cut short or combined. In a self-contained classroom, you have the privilege of flexibility, and you are professional enough to call those shots. Just make sure you don't leave empty spaces in the schedule.
- Restroom Management (your own, not the kids) Go whenever you have a break. Go at the beginning of the break, and go again at the end. Drink plenty of water, but be careful: you can't leave your class unsupervised. We need to depend on each other for the occasional three- to five-minute break while we visit the outhouse. You watch my class, and I'll watch yours. Trust me, it happens (more for me, being of a particular age). There's that flexibility thing again.
- Classroom Management Most new teachers experience difficulty with managing students who, despite the clean if/then statements of an educational psychology course, basic computer programming languages, and puppy-training sessions, do not always follow the script. Closer relationships with those students go a long way to getting them to do what they need to do, forget their struggles, and fall into line. When all else fails, learn how to love the currently unlovable, be unpredictable, control the tone and volume of your voice. Use some unique call backs, but no too often. Embed them in in your lesson. Embed everything into your lesson. Don't stop, but be ready to include a social lesson. Discipline comes before any other instruction. Invest up front, so you don't have to waste time later. Keep things positive, but don't be afraid to be truthful with kids.
You're going to excel somewhere, but you're going to make mistakes to get there. Lean on me when you need to. I am confident that I can help you find your niche and hone your skills. Welcome to the party.