With the end of our school year rapidly approaching, my class have been reflecting on all the things that have shaped them and their year.
The focus has been on them taking the time to stop and think about the moments that have impacted and changed them, as well as advice they would give to themselves if they were back at the start of the year.
It’s really connected with them, so much so they couldn’t help but suggest,
“You should do one too, but as if you were helping yourself as a new teacher”
I couldn’t say no to that great creativity and initiative.
Dear Graduate Dan,
So, first of all, congratulations!
Just quickly, prepare yourself for many a joke about you studying in order to do some finger painting and babysitting, that you get too many holidays and you only got your job because you’re a bloke. This will get annoying very quickly, but it will also pass fairly quickly (we simply perfected tuning those idiots out).
The first day the classroom door closes and you look down at a group of 28 Year 5/6 students will shake you to the bone.
But, you know what? When in doubt, fake it till you make it.
There’s going to be a lot of full on days and, to be honest, you are going realise how little you know as you continue through your career…it might not seem like it at first, but that’s a bloody good thing. The amount you are about to learn from different people is incredible. How boring would it be to know everything straight away? Or to assume you knew everything?
(You will meet people who believe they know everything – steer clear of them).
Prepare yourself: kids have the uncanny power to make you feel stronger and prouder than you’ve ever felt before, or can rip a hole in your heart with a simple “the lesson wasn’t that good”.
Invest as much time as you can into seeing, listening to, speaking with, copying, watching great teachers. You’re incredibly lucky because you are surrounded by a HUGE number of them.
Invest in those late nights and early mornings. Yes, they will be tiring at times, but what you invest in now will save you MASSIVE amounts of time later on (and actually help you get better at helping kids).
Always remember the kids come first. Don’t just say it like a lot of teachers out there, actually believe it and keep it at the top of the list.
Invest in a fortnightly group email to the parents in your class – one half hour of being proactive will save you multiple reactive hours.
Colleagues are going to be life changing to you, positively and negatively. Learn from both groups and use the experiences to work out what sort of person and teacher you want to be.
Don’t let kids try to preserve organs in glass jars (with loose lids,) in your classroom on a 42 degree day.
When you and your wife first get contacted by a school in the remote community in Western Australia – accept the job straight away. Hands down one of the greatest/toughest/funniest/most exciting/terrifying things you will ever do. You’ll thank me later.
Change is good. Seriously. It’s going to happen anyway, so why would you sit there and waste your time whinging about the changes instead of using them to keep improving?
You’ll hear about Dr Carol Dweck and a thing called a “Growth Mindset”. Get on board early on, it’s life changing stuff.
You will invest hours and hours and hours and hours of time on kids and they will still fail. Even the odd one will choose to hurt themselves. That sucks and will be upsetting. Reach out, there’s a huge amount of people waiting to chat.
Dress up and get into as many school concerts, teacher performances, dinner dances or silly demonstrations you can – the community will love you for it and you will love becoming a part of the community.
Teaching is bloody fun. Seriously, you won’t believe that you get paid to do this.
Nothing beats that moment when a kid smiles because they finally get it.
Nothing beats that moment when a kid really starts believing in themselves.
Nothing beats that moment when that quiet kid does an amazing presentation.
Nothing beats that moment when a kid asks if they can read for longer.
Nothing beats that moment when they look you in the eye and thank you for helping them.
Never stop looking for those moments, they’re addictively amazing.
– Future Dan
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