Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The New Teacher's Toolbox

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The New Teacher's Toolbox

Article excerpt

Summertime Musings of a Former New Teacher

With summer often comes a host of emotions for teachers: satisfaction over completing the school year, regret for poor decisions made, resolve to start fresh in the fall, yearning for rest and relaxation, and excitement for new challenges that lie ahead. Summer is inherently renewing--and forgiving--for teachers. But before you stow the plan book and hit the beach, take time to reflect over the past year and consider some measurable changes for the future. Here are some thoughts to ponder:

What challenges did this year bring? Should you have started the year with more of an iron fist? Was there a lesson or unit you'd like to do over? Did grading get the best of you? Jot down some ideas that you might focus on next year. Identify your strengths and weaknesses now while they're fresh in your mind, then set goals for next year beyond "survival."

If you're moving past your first few years of teaching, consider undertaking new endeavors. Though rookies may struggle to balance school work and personal life, once you get a handle on the grading and planning aspects of the job, you may want to pursue other activities like coaching or advising. Consider taking a course for professional development or to advance your pay grade. As a new teacher, I feared that the time commitment would never improve. I assure you it does, so plan to make more time for yourself and decide how to spend it. You may find that spending time on other things will actually improve your job performance and attitude toward teaching.

If you've been teaching only for a year or two, reflect on your value to the school itself. New teachers are busy learning the ropes--the policies and politics of the school, administration, faculty, and community. It's easy to lose your identity in this formative period, particularly if you teach in a high-pressure school. Veteran teachers and mentors are quick to give advice and share resources but might also brush off good ideas from novices. Like anyone, teachers can resist change to the established system--even when change could be positive. …

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