Among the good advice found in Tensions & Triumphs in the Early Years of Teaching (NCTE, 2006) are these tips for new teachers:
Pace yourself, keep a sense of humor, know that teaching is hard.
It’s okay to take things slowly. Working on the implementation of one area of the curriculum or one classroom structure at a time is an important way to gain confidence and expertise. . . .
It helps to acknowledge that what you are trying to do is hard work. Of course, it would be easier to take out the teacher’s guide and follow the instructions, but that would tragically limit the realm of possibilities for teaching and learning for our students and for us.
We appreciate validation from experienced teachers like Tim O’Keefe (Mills et al., 2004), who reminds us that trying to figure out teaching every day is exhausting but well worth the effort:
Teaching responsively is taxing. . . . But think of what your life would be like if you weren’t planning with and for your students. Imagine if you had absolutely no say in what went on in your room. So the stress . . . may be balanced by knowing how miserable it could be if you had to teach using someone else’s agenda entirely (p. 173) . . . .
Notice the profound and wonderful things they say and do every day. Keep a clipboard or a diary for jotting down their astute observations of the world. Revel in their brilliance.
Relax. Don’t be afraid to show emotion with your children. Laugh, cry, hug. Smile often.
This text is excerpted from Tensions & Triumphs in the Early Years of Teaching: Real-World Findings and Advice for Supporting New Teachers (NCTE, 2006), by Susi Long, Ami Abramson, April Boone, Carly Borchelt, Robbie Kalish, Erin Miller, Julie Parks, and Carmen Tisdale.