Letter to a New Teacher
I recently received the following email from a career-changer who was beginning their first year of teaching. It got me thinking about the kinds of things new teachers should consider and ideas that even veteran teachers should revisit once in a while.
Letters like this one demonstrate the commitment that teachers have to improving their practice and reinforce for me, personally, why it’s so important that they get the support they deserve.
Here’s the email I received:
Dear Dr. Klei Borrero:
I am getting ready to review your online No-Nonsense Nurturer® Course. Your credentials are impeccable and I thought I would simply ask if you could list the 5 top qualities, or words of wisdom, that sum up your best advice for a teacher wishing to be a no-nonsense nurturing educator. Any words of wisdom would be great. I only limit your advice to 5 sentences so that I do not impose upon your time.
I look forward to your earliest reply. Thank you for all you do for all the children all over the world.
New Teacher in Tulsa
My response below, which is born from teaching in the classroom, serving as a principal, and now coaching educators around the country. Mostly, though, it stems from the kinds of things I had to learn on my own and through the support of mentors throughout my career. It’s a privilege to pay it forward.
Here’s my reply:
New Teacher in Tulsa:
Congratulations on your new position and thanks for reaching out.
That is a big question… let’s see here… the top 5…
1. Build relationships. The youth you are charged with supporting need you to care before they care to learn. Building life-altering relationships with them will not only make a difference in their academic career, but will impact you as a human.
2. Be humble. You are going to make mistakes. That is ok. We all do! Own when you make a mistake with your kids. This will allow them to make mistakes as well and for real learning to take place in your classroom.
3. Face every day with energy and a growth mindset. Teaching is hard but it is also rewarding. Take care of yourself so you have energy every day and on the “bad days” make yourself reflect on the bright spots so you hit the next day with energy.
4. Consistency matters. Youth today have a severe sense of social justice – which I love. Consistency and fairness matter to them.
5. Plan, Practice and Role Play. Great teachers have a Plan A and a Plan B. They also practice what they plan and role play when necessary so they are ready for their learners.
6. (Bonus) Have favorites. Everyone will tell you not to have favorites. I will tell you the opposite. Find the kid or kids that are struggling – falling through the cracks – and make them your “favorites”. Make sure in your class they succeed. You will benefit because if you get through to the kids you find most challenging, they will make you a better teacher. And these youth are often times the ones who need us the most for a variety of reasons. Figure out what makes them tick and spend extra time with them. It is unacceptable for us to write off any student.
I hope this help. Good luck to you in your journey! I hope you love it as much as I do!
Follow Dr. Borrero on Twitter: @KKB_CT3