5 Ideas for a New Teacher

round-orange-number-5These are from “50 More Things New Teachers Need to Know,” which, aside from being way too many is also geared toward high school teachers. However, some of them had some good ideas.

5. Make copies of good and bad examples of student writing (anonymously, of course–scratch out any visible names) that you’ve corrected, and use them in class to show how papers should be edited. Students love this, and it’s a powerful, practical lesson (also, a good routine). Make transparency copies, or see if your school has those new projectors that display normal papers.

I would recommend using student papers from other semesters.

6. When a student starts slacking off or avoiding work, intervene as if you’re a peer: pull them aside and express concern for them, in a friendly tone, not as a lecture. Ask them what’s going on. Be firm, though: tell them that the behavior can’t continue, and–this is the most important part–tell them that you need their help to make the whole class successful. That almost always gets real results; kids love thinking that we’re partners.

I have no idea if that would work. I’m not sure I want to do it. I was, however, intrigued by the possibility.

13. Don’t try to “convert” your students to a love of reading, or any other aspect of your subject. They are almost certain to come into your class with deeply set prejudices about academic activities, prejudices that you’re not likely to impact. Yes, give them opportunities to experience the joy of your subject, and show them your enthusiasm for it (that’ll be valuable for those who do have open minds), but don’t be afraid to assign reading, writing, and any other kind of assignment as a chore. Your best shot for reaching kids with any kind of meaningful seriousness about most things will be to honestly tell them that whether or not they like it, it’s important and necessary. They’ll groan and whine, but at least you can dispense with the cheerleading and get down to some real content. Ultimately, that’ll reward everybody.

35. PC Myth #6: “Multiculturalism is important.” No it isn’t. Maybe minority cultures play an important role in your subject, or a certain part of it, and maybe not. Whichever way happens to be the truth, your subject is what it is. Don’t warp it to suit anyone’s agenda.

50. Take all advice with a grain of salt. Though there are simple, established things that are more effective than others (read Marzano’s Classroom Instruction That Works), teaching is still more of an art than a science. Everybody thinks they’re a good teacher, but not everybody’s right. Be skeptical about all experts and even “research” (which is rarely as objective as proponents would like you to think). Yes, this includes my lists. All fifty (or 100 total) of these things will not work for everybody. But many will. Your only two sure guides are common sense and experience. Take good notes, always be open to change, be flexible to responding to the needs of specific classes, and pay attention to everything. You’ll do great.

My short list from the last 50 Things list is also available, with references to other sources.

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