Being a teacher is hard. Expectations are high, resources are insufficient, and children are a handful. I have been a teacher for three years and the challenges of this profession have only increased with each passing year. Nevertheless, making a positive impact on the lives of young people is the greatest benefit of the profession. There are many days when I find myself thinking about my students as if they were my own children. My heart is full to the brim with love for each of them (even the most troublesome).
These past few months have taught me a lot about how to truly grow and make a lasting impact in this profession. I now live by what I like to call “The Five Commandments for a New Teacher”.
Commandment #1: Develop Healthy Self-Confidence
Your profession doesn’t define who you are. As a new teacher it is easy to be come frustrated by the fact that the effort you put out is not equating to great results. Don’t let the children’s results make you feel any less about yourself. Anything is possible once you believe. If you believe that your children can do well and you exude that confidence, they will do well. Children feed off a teacher’s energy. They want a strong, assertive teacher to lead them through uncharted waters. You can’t be that person for them if you doubt yourself. See their unimpressive results as a challenge to find creative ways to introduce concepts and make the learning experience fun.
Commandment #2: Listen to the Wise
You aren’t an island. Don’t be afraid to consult with senior teachers who have a wealth of experience. They were once new teachers. Therefore, they can provide you with tips and strategies to help you master the craft. Listen to their constructive criticism and put what they say into practice.
Commandment #3: Teach Better than Your Favorite Teacher
We all have at least one teacher who we absolutely adored during our time in school. My favorite teacher was my fourth form English teacher, Mrs. Wilmot-Simpson. We feared and loved her at the same time. She didn’t do anything out of the ordinary to convey the concepts to us, but when she taught I understood. She made me fall in love with the language. When I think about her I think about a strong woman who loved her subject. I want emulate her positive qualities in my own teaching so that my students can fall in love with Mathematics.
Commandment #4: Don’t Give Up
There will be days when you wonder if what you’re doing is making any impact. When those days come, make a conscious decision not to give up. The moment you give up is the moment you lose your impact. It’s also the moment when you begin to lose the respect of your students. Make it your point of duty each day to touch at least one child’s life. You may not be able to reach all of them, but always keep in the back of your mind that your efforts are not in vain.
Commandment #5: Do What Administration Says
The pressure that administration places on a teacher is often the straw that breaks their backs. Piles of paperwork, achieving high pass rates, and being an active member in the school community can become overwhelming. Do it anyways.
I am nowhere near perfect and I still face daily struggles. However, I believe that if we live by these commandments we can make a lasting impact on the children we teach.