Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The New Teacher's Toolbox

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The New Teacher's Toolbox

Article excerpt

Back-to-School: Dress for Success

When I was a student, back-to-school shopping was always exciting. It signaled the beginning of another school year but also meant something more. Choosing that new binder and first-day outft was a chance to reinvent myself and make a great first impression on teachers and peers. Now, as a teacher, I derive that same excitement from back-to-school shopping and also the sense of renewal that the cyclical nature of teaching affords us.

Each school year we have the chance to start fresh. Here are some tips on how to make that winning first impression on your own students and colleagues.

Dress to impress. Demanding respect from your students can be difficult for the new teacher fresh out of college, especially when you look almost as young as they do. (When I started teaching, the cafeteria ladies would charge me the student price until I gently reminded them that I was a new teacher.) Use your clothing to set you apart as a teacher, not a teenager. Your colleagues also notice how other teachers dress, as do your supervisors. If your school has casual Fridays or denim days, feel free to participate. Doing so helps to convey distinction for the day and is an opportunity for you to relate more casually to your students. But as a young professional, you shouldn't dress casually every day.

Make light of permanent features. Let's face it: High school kids can be mean. As a new teacher you may be nervous about how your students will react to your physique and personality. Humor is a nice tool for dealing with those insecurities and other situations. As a teacher I was nervous that my students would notice my big ears, for which I was teased as a child. Once after I scolded students for inappropriate talking during a lab, they asked how I could possibly have heard them.

"Are you kidding me?" I replied. "With ears like these, I hear everything!"

The whole class laughed, and I felt much less selficonscious about my ears. You can change your clothes more easily than your baldness, stutter, or big ears. If you can work on being less sensitive, you'll be more confident in front of the class. (Of course, rude or disrespectful comments should never be tolerated, whether they are directed toward the teacher or another student. …

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