Today I continue my discussion with first-year teachers at my school, Rouse High School in Leander, Texas, to learn what we can do to help make their experience a little better.
The interviewed teachers represented a diverse group of professionals with a variety of backgrounds and interests. They were:
I asked each teacher the same five questions about their experiences. Their responses were varied, but common themes also started to arise as the teachers talked about what they had been through. In today's blog post, I present a summary of their answers to my third question.
What are some things you want to work on more, or learn more about for next year?
Not surprisingly, several teachers answered this question by saying that their biggest area to work on for next year was classroom management. One teacher reported making the classic mistake of thinking that her youth would help her in this area. “I think coming in I was like, ‘I’m young, so all the kids are really going to like me, and I’m going to get along really well with them.’ And I think that just dropping that expectation needed to happen…because that’s just not realistic for them to be able to learn what they need to learn.”
Classroom management is often a struggle for newer teachers, but it sounded as if these teachers were already getting a better grasp on it. For example, one teacher described his goals for next year, saying, “I need to set really high expectations and make sure I do have a plan and routines and roles going into next year, and really stick to those.”
Another area that all of teachers said they wanted to improve on was lesson writing and timing. Many said that they were writing lessons on a day-to-day basis and that they rarely had time to plan an entire unit. On top of that, many teachers said that they were not sure how long their lessons would take. One teacher explained, “This first year, I had no sense of timing. I would plan a 90-minute lesson plan, and it would take half the period. Or I would plan a 20-minute lesson plan, and it would take the whole class.”
Finding time to plan can be challenging for even the most experienced of teachers, because other obligations such as professional development, after-school tutorials, grading, and parent communication can quickly monopolize their time. Clearly, what these new teachers could use is some guidance on how to manage all of these responsibilities and more time to devote to the one thing they all came here to do – help their students learn and be successful.
Next week: What did your teaching certification program prepare you well for, and what did it not prepare you well for?