First Year Lessons, Part I


I’ve been teaching for the last 3 and a half months, and there’s tons of things that I’ve picked up.  As a teacher, you are always constantly a student as well.  I am constantly changing the way that I teach introductory biology to reach more of my students.  I like to think of teaching as a constant evolution towards perfection, where we are keeping the traits that make us good teachers and finding better ways to enhance students learning.

The first thing I’ve learned is that more comes through when you whisper than when you yell.  In the craziness before thanksgiving break, I learned this lesson.  I was frustrated with one of my classes.  The trick is to allow students to settle themselves down.  I have some of my most disruptive students on my side because I’ve started to wait longer for students to settle themselves down, as well as whispered when students aren’t paying attention.

Another lesson I’ve learned is to create an email listserve at the beginning of the year.  The listserve idea was suggested by my mentor teacher.  It’s super easy to send out a weekly email to parents to tell them what’s currently going on in my class, and have parents checking in with students

A third lesson I’ve learned is that relationships outside of the classroom go much further than the time you have in your classroom with your students.  I run both a Facebook and a Moodle page to stay in contact with my students.  At lunch time, you find me more often in the lunchroom than in the teacher’s room.

A fourth thing I’ve learned (and heard before from George N. Parks) is “If you fail to …plan, plan to fail.”  It’s important to break lessons down into 5 minute increments, with both what the students should be doing as well as what you as the teacher should be doing.

For this post, the last thing I’d like to talk about is the importance of taking time for yourself.  We all live busy lives, and you can get bogged down in teaching.  Make sure you do at least 1 thing per day for yourself.  It might seem like a waste of time, and that you have 100 papers left to grade.  You will get those papers graded quicker if you are happier, I promise.