What three things would you tell a novice teacher about to start their second year of teaching? What’s important for that teacher to know? What do they need to know in the classroom, in the staff room, and in the principal’s office at the end of the year?
Assume that they want three things in the classroom: real, measurable learning; encouraging academic, social, and emotional growth; and fun and participation, a class that kids look forward to. Assume that their school is like any workplace: some supportive, encouraging colleagues; a handful (hopefully only one or two) of jaded, negative coworkers; and a handful of misplaced strugglers. Assume that their principal could be anywhere on the spectrum from a constructive, supportive boss, the kind you dream about, to an adversary who sees them with a target on their back. Assume that this novice teacher looks forward to coming to school, they really enjoy teaching children, they work hard to learn content in depth, pedagogy that is fresh and effective, and the best learning environment for their students. Assume that they’re smart and motivated and they come to school every day to be in the moment and be as good as they can be.
What three things would I tell them about these things?
a) I would tell them to focus on the fundamentals in the classroom. Make a strong lesson plan every day that engages, teaches a learnable chunk of content, and assesses how effective that session was.
b) I would tell them to keep asking questions of the peers that they admire, spend time in those classrooms, observing the environment skilled, experienced teachers create and the methods they use, and to ask those master teachers to observe them and offer feedback.
c) I would tell them to keep every unit plan, every lesson plan, and copies of student work. Copy student classwork, papers, lab reports, tests, homework. Follow specific students to see how they change over the year.
What three things would you tell them about these things? What three assumptions would you make?