Monday, August 3, 2015

becoming a professional (part 1)

The transition from student to teacher happens gradually, and then all at once. You have worked so hard in college throughout your courses, practica, and student teaching - as a teacher candidate. Suddenly, you have a job and are expected to be the full-time teacher for a group of students. Exciting! Terrifying! You have committed yourself the the well-being and success of your students, as well as maintaining rigorous standards of professional practice. But what does that really mean?

Spending time this summer thinking about what is expected of you as a teacher can be a really helpful framework for heading into a new school year. There are so many expectations for a teacher, but here are some of what makes a teacher a professional (adapted from Thompson (2009):
  1. Establish positive relationships with every student. How will you plan to get to know your students? In what ways is the curriculum flexible to build on student interests, skills, knowledge? How will you show your respect for students?
  2. Honor your students by having high expectations for all. How can you communicate high expectations? How will you differentiate to help all students succeed at high levels?
  3. Maintain a productive and safe learning environment. How can you use your classroom to support students in their learning? What organizational structures / routines will support student learning?
  4. Accept responsibility for what happens in your classroom. It can be tempting to find many reasons to excuse low student motivation, low test scores, inappropriate behaviors. But taking responsibility for these is empowering. You can do something to fix this! Think about ways to proactively plan for these in your classroom.
  5. Initiate a teamwork approach with parents / guardians. What is your plan for working with parents? How will you keep them informed? How will you invite them to ask questions? 
  6. Be a life-long learner. Being a successful teacher means that you live a life full of learning. Be open to new ideas, from your students and colleagues. Read. Attend workshops with an open mind. Take risks.
Reference: Thompson, J. G. (2009). The first-year teacher's checklist" A quick reference for classroom success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


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