Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What I've Learned This Year


When I arrived in Noel, Missouri last fall I was entering my first year of being a teacher. Being young and inexperienced, I did not fully know what to expect from being an elementary school teacher. Since last August I have grown and matured as a person and a teacher, and in the process I have learned a TON. So, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to share with you what it is that I have learned in my first year of teaching.

How to Read the Crowd
Throughout my college education and teaching internship, I developed a mindset that it was all about me the teacher. Meaning that I was so worried about how I was being assessed by my superiors, that I lost touch with my audience when I delivered a lesson. A common theme that I have seen in a lot of teachers is the fact that they do not make their lessons student centered. They become so concerned with the delivery of the content that they are missing the most important aspect of teaching, and that is checking for student comprehension.

I fell like that this year I have developed immensely in regards to this aspect of teaching. In order to be effective you have to be able to let your audience drive your instruction.

Be Flexible
I have a way I want things done.....sound familiar? While we as instructors like to plan "perfect" lessons, we have to remember that we are performing in front of a crowd the struggles remembering what they brought for lunch that day.
NO LESSON IS EVER PERFECT. THE LESSON YOU TEACH AND THE ONE YOU PLAN ARE ALWAYS DIFFERENT.
At the beginning of the school year I felt like I was trying to control things way too much, and I would beat myself up over lessons and activities that did not go well. I had to get over this. While I always plan to have that elusive perfect lesson, I don't let it get to me and I do not kill myself over my mistakes any more. When things go wrong, simply work with it and try to better the situation.....and make sure you do it with a smile on your face!

Communicate
Communication is the best medicine....I know no one has ever experienced workplace drama, but just in case you know someone who knows a friend that does.....they need to talk it out. Communicating is the best way to resolve any issue in the workplace.

In addition, communication is the pathway to building that much desired rapport with fellow teachers. I know that sounds obvious, but communication is one of the hardest skills to develop, so practice all you can and build those strong relationships with teachers and students.

Be Reasonable
As teachers we hold very high expectations for our students....sometimes they live up to those expectations, and sometimes they don't. Often we build our expectations too high for students, and become upset when they do not meet the expectation.
DON'T.
Teachers can sometimes really loose touch and forget that we are dealing with children. They are not perfect and neither are we. While its fine to have lofty goals for our students, we set our students up for disappointment when a goal is not met and we scold them for not coming through. Our job as teachers is to simply pick them up after they fail, dust them off, and encourage them to try again.

Don't be Afraid of Technology
Grown adults everywhere are afraid of computers like it's a bad horror film and computers are trying to take over the world. Technology is our friend and is essential to living in our microwave society of today. We should not become overwhelmed by technology and simply give up before we start. We cannot expect to master computer skills the first time we attempt them, so jump in head first....the water feels fine :)

Listen to Your Students
You may be the only person that does. Below is an example of a answer that one of my students listed on their end of the year survey that really spoke to me:
I know my teacher cares about me as a person when he.
- Listens to what I say
While this may seem like a standard issue answer to such a question, it spoke volumes to me. I truly believe that teachers do not know enough about the students they are teaching. In order to build the respect that we all seek in a student teacher relationship, it is important to take interest their the lives of our students. It's that important.

Lastly....Never Stop Learning
It's never too late to change your way of thinking, learning, or style. We do everything short of beg students to learn on a daily basis, but sadly some of us refuse to learn and grow as professional educators. We work in a learning environment, so why not soak up as much as you can? We owe it to our students.

In closing I would like to thank everyone that has made my first year of teaching something truly magical. Teachers, parents, bloggers, and of course students....thank you to everyone.

Mr. McClung

26 comments:

grandma mac said...

My goodness. Those are all the qualities of a good parent too :) I was thinking that as I read your post, how if you exchanged "teacher" for "parent"...hum..think you just taught me another valuable lesson! Thanks and I hope you are enjoying your first week of 'vacation'. Lots of good books out there for your "down time"...Enjoy :)

KimWright said...

Hi my name is Kim Wright. I read your blog as a requirement for my class at the University of South Alabama. I am a junior there and I am studying elementary education. I really enjoyed reading your blog! I love getting helpful information from someone who has experience. You can read my post about your blog at kimwrightfall2009.blogspot.com

KimWright said...

Hello my name is Kim Wright. I read your post as a requirement for my class at
The University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed getting information from someone with experience. I agree with you that teacher tend to forget who their audience is. We really need to keep the children in mind! You can read my blog about your post at kimwrightfall2009.blogspot.com

Mallory Burke said...

Hi, my name is Mallory Burke and I am reading your blog as a requirement for my computer class at the University of South Alabama.
I really enjoyed reading "What I've Learned This Year" because I thought it gave some very helpful information to remember when I begin my teaching career. I am a junior majoring in Elementary Education. The advice you gave was great and I thank you for putting it out there for all of us future teachers! I will be posting my own blog about what I read in your blog and if you would like to read it you can at: malloryburkefall2009.blogspot.com

Mallory Burke said...

Hi, my name is Mallory Burke I am an elementary education major at the University of South Alabama and I am a junior. I am reading your blog as a requirement for my computer class. I really enjoyed reading "What I've Learned This Year." You gave some great advice and I thank you for putting it out there for all of us future teachers to read. I will be making a post about what I read in your blog. You can read it at malloryburkefall2009.blogspot.com

Margaret Hines EDM310 Blog said...

My name is Margaret Hines and I am a junior at the University of South Alabama. I am reading your essay as a part of an assignment for Dr Stranges class. I must say that I learned a lot from reading this article. It is very inspiring. Getting information from teachers already in the field is a major plus for me. I can be reached by email: biggmarg1@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Mr. McLung, i too am reading your blod per an assignment for a course taught by Dr. Strange at South Alabama. I am not studying to be a teacher but am interested in how prepared students are going to be for the outside world. Because I live in it too and will depend on the younger generation to run it. The advice you give is very good and I hope teachers adhere to it. Losing touch with your audience, trying to teach a perfect lesson and failure to communicate is a disservice to student, parents and the community.
I'm glad you learned how to adapt early in your career. Keep up the good work!
Ginger Parnell

Ruth's Blog said...

My name is Ruth Nazarian and I am an Elementary Education student at the University of South Alabama. My microcomputing class was asked to read your blog as an assignment and write about it in our class blogs. I really enjoyed your advice to teachers,especially about listening to your students. I think that a teacher will be more effective as a teacher if they show their students they care and that they have their best interests in mind. I too believe that teachers should never stop learning. You can read my comments of your blog atnazarianredm310fall09.blogspot.com .

Ruth's Blog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ham Barnett said...

My name is Ham Barnett and I am an Education Major at the University of South Alabama. I read your blog and really enjoyed it. It is awesome to me to see a teacher that really cares about their students. Thank you for sharing. I would like to learn more. You can find me on twitter at hambarnett13 or my blog http://barnetthedm310fall2009.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Hello my name is Shaneise.
I am reading this post because it was required by my EDM 310 teacher Stephen Sullivan. I am glad that this post was required for the class to read because I enjoyed it. I am majoring in Elementary Education and becoming a teacher for the first time makes me a little nervous but after reading about your experience as a first teacher it helps me see some guidelines that might be useful for me as well. Thanks for the helpful information. My class blog is Shaneise_Taite's EDM310.com.

matt moorer said...

My name is Matt Moorer. I am reading your blog as a requirement for my computer class at the University of South Alabama. I think that my favorite of your ideals has to be the fact that all teachers must be flexible. Sure, you are handed a sylabus at the beginning of the semester by your boss, but it's up to you to mold that basic gameplan into what and how exactly your students need to learn.

Allison Benton's EDM310 Blog said...

HI, my name is Allison Benton, and I read your post as part of an assignment for EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed reading this post because it gave me great insight on how to be a more effective teacher. This post will help me when I do my internship, observations, and when I become a teacher as well. Again, I really enjoyed reading this post; thank you for sharing your reactions to you teaching and the knowledge that you have gained because that has helped me as a future teacher. My class blog can be found at http://bentonaedm310fall2009.blogspot.com/. My Twitter name is zta06. Thank you!

Timeka Hollloway said...

Hi, my name is Timeka Holloway and I am reading your blog as part my assingment for the University of South Alabama. You made some excellent points in your blog. Listen to your students that was important. Because sometimes as a parent I forgot to listen to my son. I must remember that we all have something to say no matter how small we are. Technology is my friend eventhough it is every changing. I know I must be willing to stay one step ahead of my students as a future educater. Learning is a lifetime. I will never stop learning.

Kevin Robertson's EDM310 Blog said...

Excellent information to pass on to experienced and future teachers. I am also a South Alabama student, and your thoughts and ideas are very appreciated. I specifically like the parts about listening to your students, and the "don't stress over the lesson plans and go with the flow" parts. Thank you again. http://robertsonkedm310fall2009.blogspot.com/

dmccarty said...

My name is Daquesheas McCarty and I am reading your post as a part of an assignment for my EDm 310 class at South Alabama.I think that your entire post was dead on and we do sometimes set goals that are unattainable and get upset with the student,thanks for reminding alot of us that they are in fact still just children. Please feel free to contact me at mccartydedm310fall2009.blogspot.com

Henderson said...

Hi! My name is Chrissy Henderson and I read your post as a requirement for my class at the University of South Alabama. I am taking a EDM310 class to enhance my teaching career in the technology field. I really enjoyed reading it, and felt like you made several good points. These were excellent insights for encouraging educators and parents. You had many great ideas for helping teachers become more effective with their students. I especially liked the one you gave about NOT stressing over the lessons...they don't have to be "perfect." I am a perfectionist, and this is one point I struggle with in my own teaching. Thank you for your time in writing this and sharing it with us all. You can read my post about your blog at chrissyhendersonfall2009.blogspot.com. Good luck in your future teaching!

Kim Langham said...

Hello my name is Kim Langham. I read your blog as a requirement for my class at the University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed your article and found it very helpful. It offered some great advice for new teachers. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
You can read my post about your blog at kimlanghamfall2009.blogspot.com

Kim Langham said...

Hello my name is Kim Langham. I read your blog as a requirement for my class at the University of South Alabama. I enjoyed your article and found it to be very helpful. You offered a lot of great advice for new teachers. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. You can read my post about your blog at kimlanghamfall2009.blogspot.com

Kim said...

Hello my name is Kim Langham.I read your blog as a requirement for my class at the University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed the article and thought it had great tips for new teachers. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. You can read my post about your blog at kimlanghamfall2009.blogspot.com

Kim said...

Hello my name is Kim Langham. I read your blog as a requirement for my class at the University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed the article and thought it had great advice for new teachers. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. You can read my post about your blog at kimlanghamfall2009.blogspot.com

Kim Langham said...

Hello my name is Kim Langham. I read your blog as a requirment for my class at the University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed the article and thought it had great advice for new teachers. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. You can read my post about your blog at kimlanghamfall2009.blogspot.com

Jennifer Chambers EDM 310 said...

Sounds like you had an eventful yet rewarding and fulfilling year. I am a junior at the University of South Alabama and your blog was a must do.

Rebecca Classic said...

Hi Mr. McClung,

Thank you for sharing what you learned your first year of teaching. I read your post as part of an assignment for Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama. You can check out our class blog at EDM 310 Class Blog or my blog at Rebecca Classic's Class Blog. I agree that we should listen to our students and not take things so seriously if our lessons do not turn out exactly as we planned. And, I think we should get to know our students and their families so we can better serve their learning needs. I appreciate your honesty and will take what you said to heart when I have my own classroom.

Sincerely,

Rebecca Classic

Malissa said...

Hello, I am in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama and I am pleased with your want to help others and pass on your tips. You must be relieved when you finally decided to go with the flow because plans never go as planned I definitely know that. I though your post was very informative and helpful for teachers who are just starting out. I like how you point out they are still children so cut them some slack we often forget that when we set our goals for our students. You can check out my comments to your post at http://mathenymalissaedm310.blogspot.com/.

Malissa said...

Hi, I am a student at South Alabama and currently enrolled in EDM 310 and Dr. Strange assigned your plost for us to post on. Kudos to you for remembering that they are just children not robots, because we want them to excel we often lose sight of the big picture. We are there to teach but if we don't listen to our students we are missing out on a lot. I really enjoyed your perspective setting expectations of course they are there but are we setting the goals out of reach? You can read my comment on your blog post @ http://mathenymalissaedm310.blogspot.com/