It's no surprise that teachers encounter all kinds of personalities in their classrooms and have to navigate different methods of dealing with all of them. When new teachers ask me what is the best advice when dealing with student misbehavior, I say, it depends. There are so many different things I have tried over the years that to say "this works" and "this doesn't" is nearly impossible. Instead, I thought of a few different methods I've used multiple times over the course of the years.
I explain the behavior I was experiencing with several students and tactics I used that worked in those situations.
The other day I was talking to a friend who I have known since the very first day I became a teacher. We were discussing how much has changed, not only in the classroom, but with schools and students in general over the past 15+ years. But as the conversation progressed, we realized that there is SO MUCH that has not changed and probably never will.
Oh what the first year of teaching would have been like had I known what I know now….one can dream of being that confident and successful their first year. Or one can read this article and be given some really great advice from a veteran teacher ;)
Over the years, I have had many teacher friends who left the profession. The most recent two who left this past school year seem to be happy, but both miss something from their teaching days. One misses the critical thinking aspect and the other misses the creativity. The grass is always greener, but I can’t help and think that maybe if these teachers had better support they would’ve stuck it out until they got over the, what I like to call, “the new teacher hump.” There are tons of benefits to being a teacher that have nothing to do with actually teaching….can someone say summers off?! Then there are the benefits that do relate directly to teaching and that is the difference you get to make in children’s lives every single day, the creativity and the problem solving.
The sad reality is that even with all of the benefits, teachers are leaving the profession in droves. They say if you can make it past your 5th year of teaching then you will most likely stay for the long haul.
When I sit back and think about my first few years of teaching, there are a lot of things that I wish I had known. Things that would have helped me to sleep better at night and things that would have made the day to day more bearable. Below is that list curated just for you!
I will never forget when I was in my first year of teaching, I would get kicked out of the building at 6:30pm because that is when the custodial staff left and I wasn't allowed to be alone. I would race home to then finish my work by around 10-11pm. Somewhere in between that, I ate dinner, then I'd shower before going to bed only to be up a few hours later to do it all over again. I NEVER felt like I was caught up on anything.
During my second year of teaching things improved for me because I was allowed to stay as late as I wanted! So that meant, getting home between 7-8pm, shoving dinner down my throat and then getting a shower before bed and doing that all over again. See how I gained 2 hours there?
It took me 10 YEARS to realize that life was not good like that and then about another 2 more years to figure out how to change it. Below is an abbreviated list of things I wish I knew my first few years of teaching to save me some time and energy and allow me to have a life outside of school.
One thing I am asked about often is how to grade the work students complete in Socratic seminars. I like to think of it more as tracking and assessing rather than grading. It’s more important to track progress than it is to give students a grade because Socratic seminars are designed to meet students where they are in terms of the many different skills needed to have a successful seminar. In order to monitor progress, I track student participation. For a more traditional sense of grading, I use a rubric to score their writing responses (to the seminar). Using both of those methods, I am able to really assess a student’s understanding of our class novel and identify areas in which they need more support.
Daughter of the King, wife and mother, former upper elementary teacher, curriculum and course developer