Lori Goodson, Editor
Mary Hammel, Technical Editor
Genius Hour, Coding, Service Learning in Classrooms, Flexible Seating, Mystery Skypes, and MORE!
Each attendee will get some fun classroom supplies for next year! SAVE.THE.DATE!
Questions? Contact Dr. Martinez at email@example.com
School district: USD 475 – Ware Elementary
City/State: Fort Riley, KS
Class/content area taught: Kindergarten/How to be humans + every content area imaginable.
What you enjoy most about teaching: The stories that the students have to share and their incredible imaginations!
In what ways has your school/district supported you? My school has supported me in so many ways. Since I completed my student teaching internship here, I was lucky enough to have a few strong relationships already be established. The 1st grade team that I did my student teaching with helped me immensely during the first few weeks of school. They were a listening ear, helpful hand, and even stayed very late in the evenings with me. The Kindergarten team has provided support every day of the year so far. Collectively, they have a very inviting personality and have answered thousands of my questions. The administration at Ware has walked me through many of my “firsts” and been incredibly helpful.
What are some specific ways you believe KSU especially helped prepare you for your new career? During my student teaching internship, I was prepared for the workload that it would require. K-State set me up for success by having very high expectations in all of the pre-service and professional classes. Those expectations were a standard that I became accustomed to and transferred to my work in the classroom. K-State prepared me by exposing me to the classroom setting very early in my undergraduate classes, and I was familiar with the school day setting prior to entering my internship.
Suggestions/encouragement for new teachers: Self-care is so important! You can always work later, harder, and make a lesson better. Do not beat yourself up by striving for perfection. No lesson will every go as perfectly planned as you thought and that is OKAY. We are pushed so hard in our undergrad classes to write 8-page lesson plans and project possible student responses, yet in the daily classroom setting storm…sometimes things happen unexpectedly, and your flexibility is key. Remember to slow down and think of WHY you are doing what you are doing with your lesson, and have a little fun.
Other thoughts? If you walk into your room every morning knowing that you’ll have a good day, you will really surprise yourself. Your positive mindset is KEY to your sanity.
It’s different at the various grade levels. Some teachers may see their first class leaving the building for another school; some may see their first class graduating from the school district and moving on to other stages of their lives.
Whatever the situation, you’ll probably find that you think back to your first year for many school years to come. They will be the group that, for better and for worse, helped you complete your first year in an extremely important career.
Take a few minutes, before everyone dashes out your classroom door, to thank them. While you’ve been the teacher, they have taught you many things, as well.
We found some of your former Curriculum and Instruction professors and asked them, “As a classroom teacher, what’s your favorite memory from your first year of teaching?” And here are some of their responses.
Dr. Brad Burenheide (Secondary Social Studies) — “Being told I was being brought back for year 2!”
Dr. Sally Yahnke (Family and Consumer Sciences) — “I had a middle school student who had no arms (she was a thalidomide baby), so there was a lot of accommodations that needed to be done. She sat on the counter, washed her feet, and made a pizza; she slid a table up to the sewing machine and was able to complete the project, her penmanship was the best in the class. This taught me a lot about what humans can do if they want to.”
Cyndi Kuhn (Technology) — “OH my, when I think about my first year of teaching, I kinda hope no one remembers my name, I think I might have been the only one learning that year. But boy did I learn a ton.”
Dr. Sherri Martinie (Secondary Math) — “I remember doing a lot of great projects, including skits and songs. It was a ton of work, but so much fun!”
Kaylee Myers (Elementary Education) — “How much I learned and grew from my kindergartners. Everyday they had something clever or cute that one of them told me. I should’ve written all of those down then!”
Dr. Tom Vontz (Secondary Social Studies) — “Watching students turn in their final exam on the last day of the semester. The final exam was one essay question, yet most of the students used the entire 90 minutes to write out their answer. I was proud of what we accomplished and how much they had learned – not just about history, but about hard work, study skills, organization of ideas, historical thinking, and a host of other things.”
Dr. Vicki Sherbert (Secondary English/Language Arts, Speech/Theatre, Journalism) — “During Parent/Teacher Conferences in October, a parent told me that her daughter loved my class. She said that she and her husband were always excited when their children were placed in a first-year teacher’s classroom because what new teachers may lack in experience, they make up for with fresh ideas and enthusiasm. Her words encouraged and gave me confidence.”
Dr. Tonnie Martinez (Secondary English/Language Arts) — “I was 21 and they were 18—I dressed like an old woman and stayed behind my podium.”
Dr. Phillip Payne (Music Education) — “I would say the resilience of my band as we returned home from Indianapolis after 1/3 of the band got food poisoning. This tested a lot of what I had learned in school. Seeing the connection between parents, community, and administration was invaluable and really allowed me to see the profession from beyond the walls of my classroom.”
Despite what some say, teachers have plenty of things to do through the summer–whether it’s teaching summer school to help students catch up on skills or student-free activities such as attending workshops or classes. Here are just a few suggestions to help you make the most of those not-so-lazy, hazy days of summer!
- There’s still time to sign up for the EdFest that’s going to be in Bluemont Hall on June 7! It’s a FREE opportunity to gather with other early-career teachers for a day of idea sharing.
- Be looking for ways to improve your lessons. If you’re teaching the same course next fall, spend some time flipping through your lesson plans. Hopefully, you’ve made some notes and done some reflecting on what worked and didn’t work. Where can you add a new element – a brief video or music clip? How can you enliven your lessons to get your students excited? What activities did they seem to like the most AND learn the most? Revise, revise, revise!
- Look for new resources. The Internet provides an endless amount of options for you, including many that are teacher-tried and trusted. But don’t overwhelm yourself; be selective by focusing on pumping up one particular unit for next year’s class.
- Team up with a colleague (as near as a friend who teaches down the hall to as far away as across the nation, thanks to the Internet). It’ll make planning and revising much more enjoyable!
- Find a workshop or course to take that addresses an area in which you’d like to become a stronger teacher…classroom management, special education needs, technology, etc.
Dr. Tonnie Martinez and others are leading an effort to help beginning teachers like you thrive as you start your career! Check out #WeAreEdCats for teaching tips and to stay in touch with the COE! Check out the website at coe.k-state.edu/edcats.
Do you have a question about classroom procedures? Or a suggestion for a topic we should address in Before the Bell? Want to add your name to our mailing list? Or provide a different email for our mailing list? Or, if you’re in your first year of teaching, send us a photo of you at work in your classroom!
Early-career teachers, feel free to jump in and offer suggestions to those who are following your career choice!
We’d love to hear from you, so please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go, COE Cats!