I can’t lie, I am super sad to see school starting again this year and not be a part of it. I never thought that I would miss it so much. A couple people I know are first time teachers this year, and I can’t help but think about how much I didn’t know my first year, and how much I still would have changed this year if I were teaching. I hope to go back someday so here are my notes to myself to make things go just a little smoother!
Top 5 Things I Did:
1. Structured my class so that it allowed for both practice and grading: As ambitious as you may be, you will not have time to grade everything. One of the best things I did for my photography class was set up a system where I would teach a concept, then give them grading-free time to practice. Then the next day, they would then get a “Photo Shoot” as their assignment that would be graded. Surprisingly kids didn’t really goof off during the practice time. Yes they would take funny photos, but they still would be practicing the concepts.
2. Field Trips: Get those kids out of the classroom!! Even if our “field trip” was walking across the street to an empty field to practice filming something, the kids had more fun and were therefore more likely to remember what was taught. Real field trips always went well too (though they were expensive) because the kids were excited.
3. Let Them Choose: Whenever I let my students choose their topics or gave them a few different assignments to choose from, they became much more invested than if I only gave them one option, or chose for them. (Although never underestimate the power of choosing their groups for them if your lacking participation)
4. Reflection/Bell Ringer: Best thing ever! Having something small that they have to do at the start of class every single day gets them into work mode, and gives you a few extra minutes at the start to take roll, help struggling students, or get your lesson together. Plus it can be a great chance for them to review concepts.
5. Student of the Week Board: In my TV Broadcasting class I had a “student of the week” and a “department of the week” board. My students LOVED seeing their names up there, and it gave me a chance to point out good behavior that I really appreciated. Little did they know I tried really hard to make sure everyone got up there at least once!
Top 5 Things I Wish I Did:
1. A Time For Funny: The thing I miss most about teaching high school students is how funny they are! Sometimes though, the assignment called for them to be serious, and some of the funny kids had a hard time keeping the jokes out. I wish I would have pointed out the need for seriousness on those types of assignments, but told them they could be funny some other way, (like do a fake one for extra credit or something) because I really believe that being funny is a great skill, but so is knowing when to be funny. It was hard to mark them down after laughing really hard, because they didn’t truly complete the assignment.
2. Guest Speakers: I wish I would have invited guest speakers more often because not only did it give me a break, but someone new captures the kids’ attention, and provides them with a different perspective.
3. Checked For Plagiarism: My first year I taught Business Communications and had my students do a really huge writing assignment. I had a few kids turn in what I was pretty sure were papers they just printed off the internet, but I felt like I could trust them and deep down I think I just didn’t want to have to be mean and give them a zero. Looking back I feel so dumb! I am 99% sure they were plagiarized and I hate to think that I let them get away with it!
4. Collaborated More: I probably wasted a lot of time trying to come up with everything on my own instead of asking other teachers for ideas and help, especially my first year. Don’t re-invent the wheel! Use other teachers’ resources!
5. Complimented More: I feel like you can never compliment your students enough. There are so many things they are dealing with at that age and a compliment from a teacher can really stick with them. I still remember things that my high school teachers said to me, and I hope I said positive things to my students that they will remember.