Respectfully Decline

Schools always want you to be a super teacher, which is not realistic. Learning to respectfully decline excess expectations is fair. Teachers feel a sense of guilt when they say that they cannot attend an extra event or offer more time to support students. Work can already be overwhelming, and additional requirements are physically and emotionally draining.

You are not obligated to attend every dance, spelling bee, and football game. Rather, find ways to increase engagement in your classroom. Ask yourself if the increasing obligations will help you become an effective teacher while staying at the school site long-term. If you are only going to stay two years because you are dedicating your life and soul to the job, which is exhausting, would it be better to skip the additional events so you are at the school longer? Then, if a student visits, they do not see a school filled with new faces. Longevity and stamina is key.


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The Struggle is a Real Beauty

The first day of teaching is known to be a scary phenomena for those embarking on their new journey into the profession. A first day’s impression has a tremendous impact on the student’s perception of the teacher.

Some suggest that teachers should keep a rigid face with no emotions in order to express a form of superiority complex over the students, while others may recommend playing games the entire class to build rapport. Everyone has their own system. The constant advice and feedback consuming new teachers leads to a plethora of choices. Deciding the best practices can be overwhelming. Take one step at a time.

Plan lessons carefully. Strategically sequenced and targeted lessons can increase engagement. Review the standards, write an objective, plan your exit ticket, and work backwards. Lesson planning effectively takes time, and practicing the skill will help. If possible, look at lessons that are rigorous, and set a high standard for students. The achievement gap is real! Ask yourself how you will get the students to meet those standards. Your students may not know the solution to the objective yet, and each student may have a different path, so plan carefully. You do not know their capabilities until you see them try with the proper tools. Avoid assuming that they cannot do something, rather figure out the process to get them to the desired goal.

Ask other teachers questions. Find people with a positive mindset to support and surround you. If there are toxic teachers, stay away! The poison can seep into your own mindset and consume you with disdain. Work with those who will always be solution-oriented. As for the negative ones who may leech onto you, respectfully remind them your reason for teaching. Always remember your passion!

In your class, focus on the positive rather than the negative. Many teachers call home when a student is not behaving or did not submit homework. Try calling home by sharing a story about a student who took a risk or a student who completed a challenging task. I would highly recommend positive phone calls for students who are not used to teachers sharing such comments. Show students you appreciate them with precise praise and feedback, so they will be more invested.

Do not fear correcting behavior. If a student is talking out of turn, you may let them know, but do not focus on arguing or draw attention. The correction should be quick and the least intrusive. Sometimes while teaching, even walking towards a student can be an indirect way to quiet them, or pointing out positive behaviors that may cause more students to follow the lead. By doing so, you can still teach. Sing praises when you can, appreciate students for taking risks, and be authentic with the positives and corrective behavior. Keep in mind, some students will express themselves in the way that they think you see them. See the good. Always see the good.

Consistency is beautiful. Planning your class rules, procedures, and placement in class will make the year much easier. Constant change can be overwhelming and lead to repetitive correction over the course of the year. We are creatures of habit, and students are bombarded with various expectations in their lifetimes, so minimizing change will lead to efficiency.

Classroom management is an art that takes time to develop. Numerous strokes of paint are constantly added to the canvas with various practices, risks, mistakes, and measures that lead to a personal piece that exemplifies our own vision of education that may not satisfy everyone. The display takes time to be appreciated, but it will grow in value as long as effort is invested into the art.

I know these are several spewed pieces of information. I hope it helps! Struggle can be beautiful, but not to the point where it is overwhelming. Please comment with advice you may have for those about to step into the threshold of their teacher’s journey. I wish you all a wonderful experience.


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Optimal Learning Space

Creating an optimal space for student learning is not easy. Begin by developing lessons that ensure the students are learning. Consider the objective first, connect your exit ticket, then work backwards. Figure out what you want the students to learn by the end of the period. While some activities you find online seem engaging, your lesson can keep the students interested as long as you plan well.

Be careful and strategic about your delivery. Be aware of your goals and work with your students to meet the objective. Avoid spending most of the period lecturing. Rather, have them discuss, inquire, and grow. Put the cognitive load on the students, so they can learn from each other.


Teacher’s Testimonials