The teacher

 

teach-1968076_1920I feel like I just wrote my “school’s out” post, and it’s already time for the “back to school post”! I have been loving the flurry of first day pictures posted by friends and relatives on Instagram.

The way the world is set up nowadays, our children spend a very large chunk of their day in school. Like it or not, they are going to be influenced by and receive formative messages from virtual strangers. In order to be in on it a little, I volunteer in my daughter’s school, and I recently also applied to substitute teach there. (Eeek, stay tuned for updates on that!)

I spent a couple of hours last week in her school’s library, shelf reading. That is, making sure each book is in it’s proper spot on the library shelf.  Ideally, it should be done before the classes start checking out books next month. It’s a tedious, not overly difficult task. Fortunately for me, I was able to observe a couple of very well taught classes while I was sorting out messy shelves. Just what I needed at this moment.

My experience with teaching as a volunteer Bible teacher is done primarily one-on-one with a student. So I have been stressing a bit about how I will keep twenty-some gradeschoolers on task and engaged. And all of this without yelling or losing my temper. I do NOT want to be THAT teacher.

My daughter’s class had a few different substitutes last year. Watching the class and teachers struggle through that made me start remembering my school years. Yup, we were not nice to the substitute, and don’t tell me your elementary school class was the exception to that. Am I right? I didn’t want to do that to myself!

And then, as usually happens in my life, a random conversation (this time with a complete stranger, a mom I met at a park) reignited that spark of an idea. The second time around, I decided to go with it. The thought of making a little money while not detracting from the time and energy I give the girls was already in my head. I am in the school volunteering anyways, so why not get paid to be there? And my random mom friend gave me the boost of confidence I needed. She is a teacher by profession, and she said, “You could totally be a substitute teacher!”

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To calm my nerves about this new adventure, I have been doing a lot of reading. This is what I always do. In fact perusing Pinterest for parenting blogs is what got me started blogging in the first place.

Here are 4 tips for effective teaching that I hope to remember and use:

  • Use positive motivation like compassion and praise.
  • Don’t talk louder than a speaking voice.
  • Let them feel success by starting with an assignment you know they can complete.
  • Keep order by using routines. Keep the number of rules to a minimum. Rules require punishment for breaking them, routines give structure without putting you in the position of enforcer.

I love all of those ideas. I also felt reassured to read that even experienced teachers get nervous on the first day of school.

HowEVER . . . Every day is the first day for a substitute! I won’t know the routines already set in motion by the regular teacher. I won’t know anyone’s name. I won’t know which kids not to pair up for group assignments because they will get too rowdy. Once again I say eeeek!

My observations at school today left me feeling greatly encouraged. I found everything I had just read being modeled before my eyes. The teachers didn’t raise their voices. They allowed for interaction and feedback, but they were able to quickly regain the group’s attention using techniques like counting backwards from five, or clapping a pattern and waiting for the reply clapping. I heard a teacher start the class period by praising his students for how well they had done in that subject last week. The lesson included being read to, doing a treasure hunt, and a worksheet. Very engaging! And when a student’s attention wandered, the teacher simply asked, “Would you like to participate in this activity?” Not a threat, just a simple question. I felt grateful to be able to observe and learn such solid teaching practices. And even more at ease with putting my daughter’s education in these strangers’ hands.

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Realistically, no classroom is going to have the perfect environment 100% of the time. I know from experience that patience at times runs out when you’re dealing with kids. But I also know that when the adults in the room react calmly and dignify the children by treating them like real people, tensions tend to evaporate. Motivation to work hard at anything comes from excitement, joy, interest. If a teacher has the skills to tap into that, the student will gladly cooperate.

My fear is that being in a classroom will probably tip the balance of my precarious truce within myself on the question of homeschooling. I may just end up saying, “this does not work, why are we doing this to our kids”?! If that happens, I will be facing an even greater challenge than motivating a classroom full of kiddos; motivating my own kids!

So, please keep rooting for me. I’m a newbie, and I need all the help I can get. If any of you have experience in a classroom, please share your nuggets of wisdom! You can comment here, on Instagram @standupandlivelife, on Twitter @standuplivelife, or on my Facebook page.

Resources:

5 Quick Classroom-Management Tips for Novice Teachers

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/classroom-management-tips-novice-teachers-rebecca-alber

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Author: standupandlivelife

I'm a mom blogger and freelance writer. I love to live my life to the full and write about it in the process. I hope you are inspired by what inspires me!

2 thoughts on “The teacher”

  1. All I can say is that if I can do it, you can do it! I too struggled with the same thoughts and though I always thought I’d teach I worried about how nervous I would be and if I would have the confidence to maintain control of a room full of kids while making a meaningful difference in their lives. I think I told you I taught in a high school for emotionally disturbed children. I’m pretty sure after my interview the other staff took one look at me and thought I would never come back. Honestly, After seeing how crazy it was, I really didn’t want to but that also motivated me to get back there and face my challenges. I don’t really know what kind of impression I give off to most people. I think some see my quiet mild tempered side and some see my “crazy Latina” side. I can be easy going but I can also lose my patience quicker than I would like. I had to walk the line between letting the students know I was “the boss” so they wouldn’t run all over me but also not letting their actions affect me personally so that I reacted unjustly. As in any relationship, trust is a key component. In the beginning it’s harder because they haven’t established that trust with you but as time goes on it gets better. Kids are also great judges of character. Of course your situation will be much different, the students will be much younger and sweeter although maybe a little more rambunctious;) You won’t be there all the time which means you’ll have a more lasting first impression but they’ll still get to know you and you them. You’ll have the challenge of taking over where their teacher left off which means in some cases it will be easier than others but you know from dealing with your own kids that consistency is key so that even if they didn’t have that with their teacher they can still have it with you and again that helps to build that trust. The long and short of it is that I’m sure you will be a wonderful teacher! Your kids have taught you a lot over the years and you can use those skills to help you teach others. I hope you find joy in it and if not, hey it’s only temporary!:)

    Liked by 1 person

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