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A Baker's Dozen of Tips for New Secondary Education Teachers

written by: chemteacher • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 8/2/2012

Here you'll find tips to help you be the best teacher you can. Welcome to the journey!

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    1.Records, records, records.Keep a meticulous record of discipline, whether big or small.Record the date, the name of the student(s), and what the event centered around. This will be beneficial if action from administrators is necessary.

    2.Communicate often.Let administrators know what is going on in your classroom, especially when it’s good news. The same goes for parents. These two groups of people usually only hear from teachers when it’s negative, so retrain them to enjoy a phone call from you.

    3.Try something new. Keep your teaching fresh. Be excited. It will pass on to your students.

    4.Be present. No matter what else is going on in your life, put it aside. All of your mind and energy need to be at school with you.

    5.Refuse to gossip about anything. Talking about things you cannot change is a great way to sabotage relationships and create a tense work environment. Instead, take the high road and find ways to encourage your colleagues.

    6.Know when to quit. Not everyone should be a teacher, and some should change careers at some point. Be honest with yourself and seek help if you’re feeling burned out. Care enough about the kids to change careers if teaching is no longer your passion.

    7.Be prepared. Walk around your classroom before class and pretend to teach the class. Where are the supplies you will need? Is your technology cued? Are routine items, like seating charts, in their proper place? Have an agenda for the day’s activities on the board on a clipboard for you to follow so that you do not forget anything.

    8.Work smarter, not harder. Manage your time by prioritizing. It may be more practical to handwrite a worksheet than type it. Before any activity ask yourself, “is this necessary for instruction? Does something else have priority over this activity?” If you can answer yes to the first and no to the second, that is a good use of your time.

    9.Write the test and then go back and teach the lessons. Don’t teach to the test specifically, but this process does give you a sense of direction and it helps ensure that you teach all of the points you wish to test on.

    10.Play games. Students love games and will remember them better than a traditional class. Use them for review or for teaching specific concepts or content. Use the internet for a wealth of ideas or make up your own.

    11.Mix it up. One of my mottos is that if I’m bored, the students are asleep. Try to use a variety of instructional strategies within a class. Students are used to a culture with sound bites and movie clips. Present your lessons in chunks, inserting media whenever possible. Any change in presentation mode will stimulate a new wave of attention.

    12.You are teaching real people. Sometimes it is easy to discount students’ emotions and opinions because they are often immature. Remember, though, that these kids long for encouragement and recognition. A little of these will take your classroom environment to higher heights.

    13. Catch them being good. Often, teachers keep their hawk eyes looking for the naughty students. Expand this to students that are doing the right thing and publicly praise them for their actions. Not only does this encourage the good students to keep it up, it models the correct actions for the struggling students.