My Project

Ok PLN, its time to enlist your help with a project I am working on. Let me tell you about it…

I am working on creating a document for first year teachers to help them with their transition into our wonderful profession. This document will serve a few purposes:

A) Provide guidance to new teachers in many areas of their job.

B) Provide insight from many educators, in many positions, in many different schools, in many different cities, provinces/states and countries.

C) Provide a clear picture of the power of PLN’s/Twitter/Social Media as a Perpetual Professional Development tool.

What I need from you is very simple – Answer this question:

“If you could tell a new teacher one piece of advice as they enter the profession, what would it be?”

Here are a few guidelines/important information

  • Don’t read other people’s responses until after you provide your own. I don’t want the topic to head in one direction, but rather organically touch on all areas of teaching
  • Any advice is good advice, even if it doesn’t refer to something in the classroom. One of my profs at the University of Victoria told me “Don’t make any major purchases like a house or car in your first year, you don’t want to have to stay in a job you don’t like just to pay off a major purchase. Wait and make sure you love teaching before you commit to something like that.” Great advice, of course I didn’t listen, and bought a car the week before my first job.
  • Keep it fairly brief, if possible, as I hope to collect many insights and share as many of them as possible.
  • I will not be looking to make any money from what you share with me. I am not preparing to write a book or publish an article, but rather just want to collect the information and share it with any new teacher that would benefit from it.

By collecting this information from the people in my PLN, I hope to show young teachers just how powerful Twitter and Social Media can be in their ongoing professional development. I plan on reaching out to some specific people that I have interacted with in my career, or people whose name may be easily recognized, but most of the information will come from those of you I have connected with on Twitter and through my blog.

Once all of the information has been collected, I am certain that the advice will naturally fall into some certain categories. I hope to collect the information over the next few months, organize it before the end of the school year and then have it readily available before the end of the summer, for all those young teachers heading out on their first job in August/September.

I will provide for you one example that I have already collected, as I feel it is both inspiring and timely. I feel very lucky that I was able to collect this quote, as this gentleman was kind enough to include it when he signed my copy of his book.

“Celebrate the art of imagination” – Sir Ken Robinson

I thank you in advance for your assistance and contribution to my project. I will be sure to make it available to everyone in my PLN when it is completed, so you too can pass on this advice to new teachers in your buildings, your divisions or your PLN’s.

46 thoughts on “My Project

  1. The advice would be to record every thought that crosses your mind about education and your school in your first year – it’s that idealism that you need to be reminded of at times. When you’re in the first year, solutions are more tangible than when you work for a few years. Don’t get worn down by all the nay-sayers in this profession – there are very many!

  2. Smile as much as you can, realise how lucky you are to be alive and to have an amazing, fulfilling and inspiring job and never, EVER stop learning! Be the best you can possibly be!

  3. Focus ALL of your energy on building student confidence. Confident students learn anything. Don’t use any instructional or grading practice that has the potential to disproportionally raise student anxiety. Anxious learners become passive learners who only want information fed to them. Build their confidence and they will exceed your expectations!

  4. Reach out to anyone that you meet, this means custodians, secretaries, subs; anyone you see. You never know when that person will be able to help you, give you advice, or just be a friend.

  5. Wake up every day invigorated and excited to participate in a new experience. Stay fresh and always look for opportunities to learn life lessons (big or small!) – from your PLN, students, colleagues, basically, everyone you meet along the way.

  6. I would say a good piece of advice would be to love your job but make sure you leave room in your life for your other loves be it family, sports, hobbies whatever, maintain a healthy balance in your life!!

  7. Tweet, tweet, and did I mention Tweet. Learn from others around the world and use your classroom as a place where you model your learning. Don’t forget toshow kids you can learn from them as well.

    Finally, learn to laugh at yourself….kids love this

    • My best advice would be to remember balance is critical. Besides the obvious things that you would look at to maintain balance (eat right, exercise, play etc.) I would have to say don’t take yourself too seriously – your have always been and will always be a learner – you may be the “teacher” now but some of the very best lessons learned have been “taught” by the student not the teacher at all. So roll with it!

  8. If something isn’t working, talk to others about it. Don’t be afraid to scrap a procedure, lesson style, or project. Also – surround yourself with positive and innovative people. Make connections to all types of people in your building – don’t just talk to those in your grade or department.

  9. If you’ve entered the profession, your desire to make a difference for kids will have an impact – It’s an incredible responsibility and an honor. It’s a big job, and we don’t do it alone. Connect with your colleagues – surround yourselves with positive like-minded creatures – focused on and excited about kids and their learning. Find a mentor and look to become one – You are on a journey as you develop your own talents and passions – and help those around you discover and develop theirs. Enjoy the journey!

  10. LEARN as much as you can! Carry a notebook and camera with you everywhere because you will forget. Get to know the staff and find a mentor to latch onto and suck all the knowledge out of them.
    Also invest in a good doctor as you will never be more sick then in your first year of teaching!

  11. Be consumed with finding ways to discover what your students know–doing this sincerely will let them know you care. And when they know how much you care, they will be consumed with showing you what they know.

  12. Build relationships – with colleagues, students, community (be a part of your school’s community – building/town) and build relationships virtually – personal/professional learning network via twitter/facebook.

  13. Share your mistakes with your students. Don’t be afraid to say “Well, that really didn’t work. Why?” If your students see that you are learning from your mistakes, they will learn one of the most valuable lessons you can teach them.

  14. Learn right alongside the kids. Don’t be afraid of new technologies, projects, or ideas. Embrace them, learn from them. Let the kids see that you’re a learner first too.

  15. Learning doesn’t stop just because your lesson plan says (e.g.) math is over at 10:30 — go past the time if the students are engaged and learning. Don’t let the clock rule your teaching.

  16. Be ready to accept you’ll make mistakes and that it’s absolutely normal. Listen to your students, your colleagues and seniors. Embrace criticism and don’t withhold your apprehensions and anxieties. Always try to enjoy your lessons as your students will almost always reciprocate your positive energy.

  17. 1a. Enjoy the wonders and possibilities of youth by maintaining eye contact with an omnipresent smile – in your classroom, in the hallways and in the school yard (many are too busy to remember this).

    1b. It’s not about you – find the time to ‘peel away the onion’ and see/feel that the reactions and moods of your students have origins well beyond your classroom.

  18. Education is about forming relationships. To be successful, these relationships should be developed honestly and with respect. It is, after all, through these relationships that we all become better learners. Forming relationships should, I believe, be the goal of everyone in education (whichever role we have at the time: student, teacher, administrator, leader, manager…).

  19. Be flexible, know that everyday will not be sucessful but it is still a learning experience and your kids will love you for learning right along with them.

  20. Be open, sharing and reflective, through a blog or a journal, and build a support network to help you. When you feel the same things coming up then you know that it is time to ask for help or ask some questions. Having a support network with whom you can throw questions out that are in the back of your mind and who can help guide you is so powerful. Know that it is OK not to know everything, but know who to go to for guidance when you are stuck. (Twitter and blogs really help with this)

  21. Learn your student’s stories. Who are they? What are their passions and interests? Once you know about them, you will be able to facilitate learning on a much deeper level.

  22. Keep your passion for learning alive by sharing your learning with your students. It will light that passion within them.

  23. Great project! My answer is perhaps not as short as it should be, and is a little corny, but here goes anyway…

    Learn-the job is always changing, so never think it will get easier or that once you have done it once, you can do it the same way in the future. Ask questions-of yourself, your colleagues and your students-what is working, does anyone have any suggestions? Don’t be afraid to take some chances and learn from mistakes-show students that this is a great way to truly learn, and that they shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes.

    Laugh-despite some of the economic frustrations, this is still the best job in the world-you get to work with talented, appreciative and engaging young minds everyday, and you help them grow. Appreciate all of that. Also, make sure the students know how much you enjoy what you are doing. Students pick up on disinterested, frustrated or unenthusiastic adults, and they will often mimic the same behavior back.

    Love-show the people you work with (students and colleagues) how much you enjoy working with them and appreciate what they add to your life. A smile, a wave, a positive interaction in the hallways or a phone call home to express something positive make a huge impact, build a relationship that is crucial to student engagement, and help build the confidence that all learners need.

  24. Love kids. That’s your most important job and the only reason you should want to be a teacher.
    Always respect and facilitate a child’s desire to learn.
    Maintain a growth mindset. Never stop learning, unlearning, and relearning.
    Smile a lot. Be positive in all interactions with, and in front of, students. Negativity poisons learning environments.

  25. Reach out Beyond the Classroom Walls in all that you do!
    Mentoring New Teachers is my Passion. I started a chat on twitter New Teacher Chat #ntchat last year on 5/5/10 and would highly encourage all New Teachers to join me. I also facilitate a New Teacher Group on and would love to have them join us. Lastly, since mentoring new teachers is so important to me especially as a did so much of that as a former school principal, I started The Teacher Mentoring Project on the EduPLN There are to date 105 educators World Wide waiting to support them and mentor for free! Those are at least 3 things that I would love for new teachers, world wide, to know about and participate in. Thanks for the opportunity to join the comments. 🙂

  26. Your first year is like running a marathon, while riding a roller coaster. Pace yourself because there’s always more work to do and it starts all over again tomorrow.
    Find a way to decompress. Go to the gym, tell someone about your day. It doesn’t matter how, just find a way to let the day go, there’s another new day coming.
    You teach kids, not content. This is just as true if you’re a new high school teacher, so spend more time getting to know your kids, than you do getting to know your content.
    It’s okay to say “I don’t know, let’s find out together.”
    When someone says to you, “That’s not how it’s always been done…” It doesn’t have to apply to you.
    Take risks on behalf of kids. Take risks for you too.
    Be just as excited on the first day of school every year as you are on the first day of your first year.

  27. You will hear that teaching gets easier by your 5th year. What I learned is that teaching will always be a rewarding challenge (and should be!) but you will finally feel comfortable and confident in your teaching style and classroom management routines by your 5th year.

    Never stop learning!

    Be present with your students. When they are talking to you about their passions, stop what you are doing and listen. They want you to hear them. You may be the only caring adult in their life.

  28. I think the biggest piece of advice I have for new teachers is to be kind to yourself. The best teachers are often the ones who see the flaws of the lesson rather than the successes but effective reflection builds true resilience. Make the changes you can for the next class or next day and write down the changes you would make to the lesson next year–then move on. Don’t linger on what you should have said or can’t believe you didn’t see.

    In a moment of pure anxiety in my first year of teaching, I realized how absurd it was to assume I would be great at all parts of teaching right away. It was also offensive to the teachers who have developed their craft over time to think that I would be any different. So I gave myself 10 years to be great. At the time 10 years seemed a long way off but here I am in my 9th year and, while I think I have become a really good teacher in many ways, I don’t feel that I have reached “great.” In this job there is always one more kid to reach and one more way to make the lesson engaging. I am still learning. Give yourself the time and the space to learn a few things at a time.

  29. If i could only give a new teacher one piece of advice, it would be Ask questions. Yes you are joining the ranks of many teachers and coming with great new ideas, that are innovative and exciting, but there are also some true and test methods and practices.

    The most effective teacher A master teachers has a perfect balance between the new ideas and the tested methods and this amazing balance is what makes them the teachers that we remember and strive to be like, when making differences.

  30. Don’t listen to negative people. In any school, you might find cynical people who believe that students are getting worse and nothing can be done. Avoid these people and seek out the positive ones, the ones who work hard, believe in the kids and love their jobs. You should never regret giving a kid a second chance (or more) and you should never overreact even though it might be tempting…

  31. Be fearless – but with integrity. If you’re doing it for the right reason, which is the best interests of kids, then it can’t be wrong.

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