From the Trenches: Advice for New TeachersBy Danica Murillo
Professionalism is a must. Parent and student relationships are a major part of teaching, but the behaviors you engage in and your interactions with your colleagues are equally important. Being a professional doesn’t just mean dressing the part; it means acting the part. The biggest mistake I see many new teachers make is texting during class, meetings, and professional development trainings. Texting in class sends the message to students that it’s okay for them to do it since you are doing it. Texting during meetings and trainings is not only rude, but it sends the message that you don’t respect the speaker and have no interest in learning the material. You also need to think about your interactions with colleagues that you might not like or necessarily get along with. Collaboration is essential in education, so you’ll have to learn how to be diplomatic in your dealings with colleagues whose opinions you don’t agree with. Never speak disrespectfully about a colleague in front of students or other staff members. Trust me; it will get back to that person. Your professional reputation is formed during your first year, so be sure to think about your words and actions around students, parents, and staff.
Take time for yourself. Dealing with children and adults all day, as well as paperwork and meetings, makes teaching a stressful profession. There are long days spent in the classroom and even longer nights planning and grading. The worst mistake I made my first year was closing myself off from all the things I enjoyed and focusing solely on work. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you. There will always be one more lesson to plan, another paper to grade, or something to organize in your classroom. Remember, your job does not define who you are. You had a life before teaching, so do the things you enjoyed doing before you became a teacher. Cook, run, take a fun class like photography or painting, read a book, go hiking, see a movie, or just spend a weekend on the couch doing absolutely nothing. Whatever it is, make sure you recharge your batteries. You, and your students, will benefit from time you take to make sure you are rested, happy, focused, and motivated for the work ahead.
About the author
Danica Murillo teaches 6th grade ELAR at Sul Ross Middle School in San Antonio, TX.
She recently celebrated her 10th year in education and hopes to continue growing young minds for many more years.
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