DC Chillin

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 27 2011

What do you wish you would have learned during Institute?

The first year teaching is brutal. For almost everyone. But I can’t shake the feeling that it shouldn’t be this hard.

What do you wish someone would have told you or taught you how to do before your first year teaching?

For me,
1) I wish someone would have demonstrated how to effectively use betterlesson.com and tfa.net and made me promise to never create my own materials from scratch.

2) I wish someone had worked with me to develop the mentality of “I am the adult in charge of this classroom, and I need to maintain that authority in order for my students to learn.” I’m not sure how this can be done, exactly, but it’s so tempting to want to please or appease your students in the first few months of teaching before you realize that it hurts your effectiveness as a teacher.

4 Responses

  1. I agree with both of your points, but, somehow, they are those words you constantly hear but never listen to until you have your “ah-ha” moment in the classroom. I also think that along the same lines as point number two, CMs need to remember that staying calm (particularly with younger students) and not getting caught up in the day-to-day drama of teaching will get them a long way. I don’t ignore little details, but I know better than to let them throw off my lessons these days.

  2. I disagree with promising never to create your own materials from scratch. Sometimes tweeking someone else’s materials to fit your curriculum is more challenging and time consuming than creating your own. I have certainly found useful things on TFAnet and other websites, but an hour spent looking for something that isn’t there or isn’t right could be an hour better spent.

  3. dcchillin

    You just have to know where to look. Now I know who’s materials align with my curriculum, but if I had put in that investment time up front in August/September, I would have saved myself a ton of work.

  4. I think the “First Eight Weeks” period was good for our CMs in Milwaukee who had jobs, but, for those of us without jobs in August, it was hard to do anything productive with that time. I really think it is hard to plan and prepare when you don’t know anything about your school or class yet!

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From DC public school student to teacher

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