I have been invited to do several presentations on this issue. I want to share the information with others that I have not had the pleasure of addressing.
Here are some facts that motivated me to reach out to new teachers. It is estimated that one-third of all new teachers leave after three years, and 46 percent are gone within five years.
I recently retired from teaching 35-years in predominantly Latino communities in the Los Angeles area. The following are ideas I share in my presentations and in my national media interviews.
1. If the students are reading below, or far below, the grade level of the text you are providing them, then adapt the information to the level of the students.
2. Organize it so that 90% of your time in the classroom is dedicated to the 90% of the students that are focusing on learning. My personal 90/90 rule.
3. Provide an environment where the students want to learn the information.
4. Learn how to role play and nurture your ability to be a great story teller.
It's quite common to find classrooms where the majority of the students cannot read the texts and books provided. There are many reasons for this but the point is for you to adapt the material to the students you have.
The second item refers to maintaining a self awareness of how your teaching time is distributed. Dedicate yourself to work primarily with the majority of the kids showing interest to progress. There may be a few disruptive students who want to use up your full attention perhaps believing that the rest of their classmates will support and appreciate their efforts to distract and unsettle the teacher. Focus on keeping the 90% moving forward and eventually the others will follow the flow. In a classroom of 36+ students, you cannot afford to be constantly distracted by one or two individuals.
The next item refers to finding ways to motivate the students where they want to learn the information. Schools can require students to attend, but that does not mean the students always want to absorb. Develop a series of strategies to constantly peek their curiosity. Reminder; students LOVE to talk about themselves, thus incorporate their life experiences into the lessons.
Finally, if I could make policy on what future educators should learn in college I would require ALL persons to take many theater performing classes. Every future educator can draw from the innate student's ability of creativity and imagination. The very best educators, in all grade levels, are normally very good story tellers. They can take the story of Peter and the Wolf in order to teach Pythagoras theorems in geometry. I analyzed the best teachers I could find and I realized that they had this acting ability to make the students laugh or cry with the stories and thus could get their lessons across with it.
I loved it when I would bring in the first grade story book of "The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs" and read it out-loud to high school seniors. This story helped to get many of the economic ideas across. It also helped student to realize how vitally important it was for them to help and cooperate with their parents!
New teachers, let me share that teaching is challenging and difficult. It's commonly shared in discussions amongst teachers that difficulties are the result of parenting, school policy and other reasons. There is some merit in these statements. However, you have signed a contract that states that you will teach to the best of your abilities.
Understand that you are working in an educational system where school administrations and teacher unions may not be providing the full support they should in order for you to succeed. Thus don't take short-term failure, if any, personal.
Unfortunately I can prove my point. Just look at the statistics I provided in this article of how many new teachers are leaving the profession. Many new teachers fail because the system is not working at full effectiveness to support new teachers and insure their continual succeed.
It's best to work with your eyes wide open and with the reality of the classroom and actual student setting. You may find a very wide gap between the theories of what they taught in college teacher prep courses and the reality you are now in. Thus my closing recommendation is- adapt quickly to the realities on order to succeed.
If you can get the students to laugh often and hard together with your silly curious stories then most likely they will remember the lessons you teach for many years to come. It is okay to also be an entertainer.