Colorado teacher and IT leader Bud Hunt writes for our Voices from the Learning Revolution group blog. He first posted this insightful advice for new and returning teachers in August 2008 at his personal blog Bud the Teacher. Our thanks for his permission to share it again here. Now more than ever, teachers need to be reminded to take care of themselves so they can take care of their students.
Here in my neck of the woods, it’s the weekend before the start of classes. At my house, life got frantic this week as my wife, a high school language arts teacher, returned to work.
It’s about to get really busy if you are at all involved in education. As you gear up in whatever way that you do, I selfishly wanted to jot down a few reminders that I’d be telling myself if I were about to get started.
First. I hope you take lots of risks for the sake of learning this year. Not just for your students, but also for you. Make it a goal to try to learn something in a sustained and meaningful way that has little to do with your classroom life. I’ve been trying to learn photography this year, and while I’m nowhere close to proficient, it has been helpful to be in the mindset of a learner who’s struggling. That’s how many of our students feel everyday.
It doesn’t have to be a big risk that you always take – take little ones, too. Ask the question that you’re hesitant to ask. Share the writing you’re doing with your students. Volunteer to do the silly dance at the assembly. Just challenge yourself a little bit every now and then. We rise to the challenge when we’re pushed. But it’s easy to forget to reach.
Try very hard not to work all the time. I suck at this, at turning off my work brain and focusing on being a dad or a husband or “just a dude reading the paper at the corner coffee shop,” but I recognize the value of being at rest and at play, of knowing that it’s better to let small work things go in the name of preserving long term relationships. You CAN be that hero teacher that everyone loves and is in awe of, but only for a little while. Then, you burn out and fade away and don’t do anyone any good at all.
You need no one’s permission to postpone a due date or modify an assignment for the benefit of a student, or to delay some grading for the benefit of yourself or your family. All will be right with the world if you’re a day late, so long as you had a reason.
Be an expert when you need to be. Be a learner always. You are probably the most experienced learner in your classroom. But don’t assume you’re the most knowledgeable person or object. If you’ve a computer handy, then you’re not. Embrace that. Relationships and mentoring cannot be outsourced or Googled. They take time and genuine concern.
Model always what you want your students to do. You and your behaviors and habits, no matter how much you might wish otherwise, are a curriculum of sorts, perhaps THE curriculum.
Be humble, but fight like crazy for your students.
Have at all times, as Geoff Powell says, “a healthy respect for young people.”
Work on your crap detector. Teach your students to develop theirs. Read and write lots. Let your students make meaningful choices in their learning. Hold them accountable for the choices they make, good or bad.
And share the good stuff. Your stories are all human ones, and they are all special, just as each one of you, and each of your students, is special. There is always someone curious about what you’re up to.
You’ll have nervous days and scared days and failure days. But you’ll also have “yes” days. Write about, reflect upon, and learn from all of them, but build a special place to keep a record of the “yes” ones. Return to it when you need a boost on some of the not-so-good days.
I wish you well. I ask you to be brave and humble and kind and tenacious and wise and caring and gentle and fierce. We so need you to do well. And there are lots of folks out there who want to help. Do good stuff.
Image: Teotwawki, Creative Commons
Latest posts by Bud Hunt (see all)
- Inquiring About Teacher Inquiry - February 15, 2012
- Should Teachers Friend Their Students? - September 23, 2011
- Bud Hunt: Thoughts for New Teachers - August 19, 2011
I wholeheartedly agree with your point about the value of trying to master some new skill. I go so far as to say the reason teachers need to be lifelong learners is so they don’t forget what a struggle learning can be. It’s too easy to think that kids would learn if they were just a little more motiviated or if they just worked harder.
Well written post with a great message. Too often new teachers are tossed out into the classrooms without any real direction. You point out some great points that not only new but any teacher needs to keep in mind as the school year get started up.
This post is just what I needed this morning. I just linked to it in my own post: http://goo.gl/2u6kF
I think we sometimes forget as teachers that there are many people out there cheering us on. Thanks again.
I liked your concers , i am too facing these chalanges that when new teachers join in there is a need for them to understand how to deal with kids , which are their responsibility now and they are the 2nd face they will be seeing most after their parents daily.
But yes learning is not just for the new but for everyone and for always .
PYP homeroom teacher/ Deputy Coordinator
Thank you for this. I will be overseeing our Teacher Interns for the first time this year and while I know and do all the things you suggested, I even volunteered for the faculty play for the first time ever last year, I need to remember to hold these up for those new to teaching.
Too often those of us with experience know that the world will not end if a topic or unit is postponed. On the other hand, students need quick and timely feedback so, putting off indefinitely the returning of assignments is a no go.
I think, new teachers should figure out very quickly whether or not they really like working with kids–if they don’t then the respect will be impossible. If they find they don’t then looking for a new career is the best support we can give them!
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