TeacherTools and Advice: Becoming a Teacher?

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Becoming a teacher? Helpful Hints from the School District of Philadelphia for a smooth transition into your new career.

Becoming a teacher is a life-changing decision. As you make a real difference in the lives of children, you will experience fulfillment as your students grow, learn new skills, and express their individual strengths. But becoming a teacher isn't easy. To help you be successful in your first year, consider these valuable tips:

Getting Started:

  • Plan and organize for success. Becoming a teacher means developing a plan for your classroom and sticking to it!
  • Develop good relations with the administration. Remember that you are part of a team with a common goal. Ask for any help you think you may need.
  • Contact parents before problems begin. Once you've established a relationship, keep an open door. Becoming a teacher who is respected by parents and the community will help as you progress in your career.
  • Find a mentor or buddy in the school. This should be someone you admire as a professional and someone who can bring out the best in the angriest, most hostile, or recalcitrant child in the room.
  • Becoming a teacher is a life-long learning process. Read the professional journals for up-to-date information and trends in the teaching profession.

Time to Teach!

  • Becoming a successful teacher means practicing mutual respect. Learn your students' names quickly and correctly. Answer students' questions clearly and respectfully. Really listen to them.
  • Set expectations and standards in simple, precise language.
  • Expect the best from your students, and they will give you their best. Accept less, and you will get less.
  • Kids know when you don't really mean what you say. If, however, you live by the same rules you set for your students, your behavior does not contradict your words, and are willing to work when they are working, you are becoming a teacher of character.

At the End of the Day:

  • Becoming a teacher in today's schools can be exhilarating, but it can also leave you exhausted. Make sure to seek balance in your life, and nurture your own physical and mental health with people and activities that nourish you.
  • You may encounter negativity. Remain focused on the positive aspects of becoming a teacher, and remember to reward and praise your students when they exhibit good behavior.
  • Nothing dispels anger like humor. The ability to laugh at yourself is critical when becoming a teacher.
  • Talk with other teachers about your concerns - especially colleagues who have positive suggestions.

Office of Human Resources, School District of Philadelphia, www.phila.k12.pa.us, 2004.