29 Pieces of Advice for New Teachers

19.) You will not change every kid. Every kid will not like you. But, every kid must respect some part of you in order to learn from you.
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1.) Teaching = relationships.

2.) When kids are mad, weird, upset or cruel, most of the time, it has nothing to do with you. Don't take it in and consume it.

3.) Kids do work for you. Don't feel like they aren't taking ownership over their learning when they say "I did your homework" or "You're lucky I did your work." What that really means is,"I know you care that I do this, and I care about you." Refer back to #1.

4.) Take yourself seriously. Take your work seriously. Take the work you assign and the classroom you keep seriously. Your kids will in return take it seriously.

5.) The notorious kid in school who is great for only you is the kid you can trust the most. This kid you can give your car keys to, have him run to your car, grab your copy paper and come back with your keys, ensuring your car is locked and still parked in the same place you left it.

6.) Your kids are still kids, yes, even the 20-year old senior.

7.) Be persistent. Consistency is best even bad consistency.

8.) You are a stable and rational person in your kids' lives. Act like it.

9.) The disruptive kid in class is usually arrogant. He/she is this way because he/she is trying to overcompensate; he/she really doesn't feel great. Make him/her feel and believe he/she is even when you want to put him/her in his/her place.

10.) Speak carefully. Words are things. They matter greatly.

11.) Always remember you are the adult. Act with power and conviction. Own that room with such security and assurance.

12.) Share your life with your kids. Tell them how sewage backed up into your house or how you don't have cable, but don't tell them everything. A little mystery is good.

13.) If you are a female teacher and you tell a female student she's beautiful, you've done something equally as beautiful. I cannot quite explain it, but it matters. So do it. Not all the time and not insincerely, but do it when you feel it. It won't be weird.

14.) When you tell your kids or you think: "Well, fine. Don't do my work. I am not stuck here like you all." Remember you are supposed to be giving them tools to not be "stuck" anywhere. Success means having choices. Give them the tools to be successful.

15.) Say "I'm sorry" and admit when you are wrong. Two or three kids will be cruel about it; they'll be loud and rub it in your face. The other 25 kids take that, register it and remember. Refer to #1.

16.) Take sick days and personal days. The world will not collapse. Your kids need a break from you, too. Your health and well-being matter. Don't be a martyr. Tell your kids, plan for it and plan them for it.

17.) Don't connect your misery or problems with theirs. They need you to be a sturdy, stable adult. Listen and ask follow up questions you already know the answers to. They need a sounding board; they want to be heard and validated.

18.) Most of your kids won't remember how to correct a misplaced modifier. They will remember how you made them feel. We learn the most from relationships and how people treat us. Make of that what you will.

19.) You will not change every kid. Every kid will not like you. But, every kid must respect some part of you in order to learn from you.

20.) I have no children. I don't know the first thing about shaping kids' lives, but I do know how I was shaped and who took part in that. I do know how my parents expected other adults to shape me. I apply that every day. It has worked really well.

21.) Kids love for you to be yourself even if yourself is nothing like them. They respect authenticity and honesty.

22.) Never give your opinion on a situation until kids ask. Then you know they care and will hear you; be ready for it and make it worth it.

23.) Don't give away your trust. Make every kid earn it.

24.) It is awesome to be liked. I love being liked more than the average person, but don't start off with that. Sure, it'll make a class period better and kids will talk about how awesome you are, but you'll grow to hate your job because your kids like you but don't respect you. Kids want boundaries, rules and expectations. They'll obey if you hold them accountable. That is how they begin to like you.

25.) Don't assume that if your kids are people of color or poor that they've been through struggles; therefore things shouldn't "get to them." They are people, so if someone calls them "a little bitch" it will hurt them and throw off their entire day. Refer back to #2.

26.) Apathy is ok. You need it to survive. Apply it when needed.

27.) You'll laugh more than you will yell. There are moments in my classroom when I realize this and that truth fills me.

28.) You don't get to say whether your kids were raised right or not. You haven't earned the right to have any opinion on such a matter. There is no "right" way to raise children. Respect their family and their past. You could learn from both.

29.) When you think you've learned enough to make an advice list about teaching, just look down the hall to the classroom with the veteran teacher who grew up in the community and has taught in your school for 20+ years. He or she could write an advice that would put your little list to shame. Read his or hers, take it in and at the same time, leave it be.

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