Dear Beginning Teacher,
Smile, relax, and relish those butterflies trembling in your tummy!!
Each September the quivers visit me again, and again… and again! I embrace the nerves which motivate us to learn, push us to do better, and inspire us to teach creatively.
Remember, you are teaching children. They are unique and inquisitive individuals. Let’s keep them that way. Make your mission clear. Establish relationships. Build trust. Follow these guidelines and you will arrive at the end of your first year ready to welcome the fluttering wings of those jitterbugs every fall!
- Greet students every day! Personalize it. Make it real. Bid good-bye to each individual personally. We do not know the chaos, hurt, joy, or isolation from which the youngsters in our care arrive.
- Develop trust. If you say you’ll do it, then do it. Even if the ‘it’ seems inconsequential to you… it may be critical to our children. Learn their names, their likes, dislikes, and favorite foods. You can draw on those later to keep building relationships or as referent sources of inspiration.
- Create a safe space. Choose class design purposefully. Think of how you would like your living room to welcome guests, and then create that space for your students. Soft lighting, yielding cushions, cosy corners and nooks to relax in, hide-a-way in, find friendship in. Develop a colour palette which is reflective of whom you are and which creates a sense of consistency for students in your room. Choose two elemental colours for the learning space with one or two accent hues. Consistency creates calmness and soothes anxiety.
- Speak softly. Breathe. Take time to respond. In those first years there will be many moments in which you might be overwhelmed and overcome by emotions. Breathe. Stop. Walk. Find your center, and then speak softly. The trust you build can be torn away quickly by a single torrent of hurtful words.
- Join in. Laugh with students. Cry with students. Play with students. Just do… however it works for you.
- Be yourself. Something we tell our students all the time, but often forget in the flurry of lessons, testing, and surviving. If you are a crazy Star Wars fan then decorate your room with Planets, space ships and R2D2’s. Use a light saber as the talking stick. Assign each student their own space ship on which to explore the galaxy! Again, be consistent. Students thrive in an environment where they know what to expect and what is expected of them.
- Smile. Always. Share that grin often. The shy turn at the corner of your mouth. The loud and raucous laugh. The kind and generous smile. Come from sadness, anger, frustration, and end your day smiling.
- Love always, love everyone, love first. There is something in every person to love. Find that glorious spark in each student and choose to make that your focus when you find yourself disregarding, minimizing, or forgetting a child.
- Grow. Keep your passions, find new passions and never stop learning.
- Make your family and your home your priority. It is the knowledge of our own stability and the love with which we surround ourselves that we are able to share, and nurture others.
Have a wonderful first year!
© Michelle Redman and mredmanwrites, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michelle Redman and mredmanwrites https://mredmanwrites.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/a-letter-to-new-teachers/