Mr. McClung's first year of teaching was a period of growth and maturity which proved to be an invaluable experience. He explains that it's important not to get too caught up in your own appearance. As a teacher, making your students successful is your first priority, not impressing the boss and other co-workers. I have to agree with him. If you're too focused on how you look to others, you won't likely realize whether or not your own students are comprehending. You've got to remember who the audience is!
He also expresses the need to be flexible. While it's important to have a lesson plan to follow, things aren't always going to go as planned. It's more beneficial to everyone if you take the time to make sure the whole class understands, rather than rushing to cover the material in a certain amount of time. I think you have to be able to adjust. If you don't take the time to make sure the students are following along, then you're wasting your time anyway. Lesson plans can always be changed.
Communication is another important factor. Mr. McClung believes that it is the best way to solve any problems that may arise. You're going to see your students and fellow teachers almost every day, so it's better to resolve any issues and figure out how to prevent them in the future than it is to avoid it and let tension build up and make the situation worse. I think if you want your co-workers and students to respect you, then you have to be willing to make sure everyone is on the same page. Good communication skills are the only way that will happen.
He informs us that it's crucial to remember who you're dealing with as well. Students are going to make a lot of mistakes, and they won't always reach the bar that you set for them. That doesn't mean that they should be punished; as a teacher it's your job to keep encouraging them and to help them do a better job next time. I have to agree, sometimes you have to let the students set their own bars. He stresses not to lower standards for yourself either. Don't be afraid of something as powerful as technology just because you haven't mastered it yet. In my opinion, you have to look at it as an opportunity for you to learn along with your students. You don't have to know everything!
Mr. McClung has learned first-hand how valuable it is to listen to your students. You're a vital part of their learning experience; just hear them out. You may be the only one willing to help them, and they'll be grateful that you did. Taking an interest in your students is the only way you'll really get to know them and be more equipped to guide them to success. Not only that, but you have to be willing to do the same thing that you're asking of the class: learn. He says if you can't grow as an educator, then students won't be able to reap the full benefits of your teaching. I'd have to say that he's right on target; you can't expect students to rise to a challenge if you can't even do it yourself.
What I Learned This Year - Volume 4
At the end of his fourth year teaching, Mr. McClung explains to us that for most of the year he still worried way too much about what his superiors thought about him. All of that unnecessary added stress did nothing but affect his mood in a negative way, and that in turn was taken out upon his students. He finally realized that it didn't matter one way or the other whether or not his peers approved of his teaching, as long as his students were benefiting from it. If the kids are enjoying the class and come in eager to learn, changing tactics just to impress others is only going to take away from their learning experience. I plan to make sure that my students are always put first. I'll feel better about the end result, and I will have helped them to reach their full potential. Changing even one life for the better will make it worthwhile; that's what teaching is all about!
The bottom line is: if your students aren't enjoying the lessons that you give them, they won't learn. It's easy to fall into a routine and form lazy habits. Mr. McClung was enlightened when he found out that he would get to teach different classes his fourth year. He noticed that he had relied too much on lesson plans from previous years, and also that he hadn't come up with any creative new ideas to keep his students on their toes. While it's easy to teach something that you've become comfortable with, it's even easier to become boring and monotonous without even realizing it. If kids resent going to class because they hate the experience, then you're setting them up to resist knowledge in the future. As teachers, we should want our students to enjoy learning and be ready and willing to share it with others; not be the reason they are afraid of it.