Another Perspective of "Becoming a Complete Teacher"

Dominique, our guest blogger, 
Does how you envision teaching match reality? 

Chapter 15, Bridging English
"Becoming a Complete Teacher"

            To begin, the chapter starts with defining oneself as a teacher.  The main concerns that were identified from an analysis of interviews with new teachers were

·         Relationships with

o   students

o   parents

o   colleagues

o   administrators

·         Classroom management

·         Handling the workload

·         Grading/evaluation

·         Autonomy

·         Physical appearance/likeability

The ultimate conclusion of this study was simply that novice teachers get frustrated because of the disconnect between their expectations of teaching and the actual experience.  We would all love to teach fantastic engaging lessons, and while we should (and we can), many of us get ahead of ourselves and forget to really gauge the students’ needs first. One great example that the book gives is of Beth Thompson. Like all of us, Thompson had incredibly high expectations for her classroom.  She had all of these great writing process lessons, but discovered that many of her students couldn’t read. Unfortunately, this is a very real possibility for us as teachers, and it is an incredibly important thing to realize when considering our expectations.


        Shaping a Teacher Persona

        According to Bridging English, classroom context is the most important phase of shaping one’s persona. Doubts about your role as and authority figure will definitely emerge, along with doubts about being an equal to veteran colleagues and parents. Tension and confusion will definitely arise. The book recommends researching styles, as well as staying true to the content that you truly enjoy to find your most comfortable teaching style as well as experiment with alternatives. Most importantly, don’t doubt yourself!

        Building Public Trust

        “Classrooms that work best have strong bonds with the homes of the students they serve” (458). As teachers, we need to always include families to maintain public support. Bridging English recommends three effective ways to build relationships with parents:

·         Include

·         Inform

·         Involve

Something as simple as a written letter to parents that explains expectations can really involve them. Although the parents of middle and high school students may not be as involved as elementary students, we need to encourage them to take a more active role.

        Defining Yourself for Your Job Interview

        I get incredibly nervous about interviews simply because I have no idea what questions to prepare for. To me, it’s like an oral exam that I was not allowed to study for. This table, on page 458, was incredibly helpful for me.

Interview Discussion Topics

Top 10 Tough or Dilemma Questions
Top Ten Interview Topics
What is your philosophy of education?
How do you handle discipline in your classroom?
What are your strengths?
What are your weaknesses?
Describe in detail a lesson you taught.
How would you develop … skills in your students?
How would you set up a program in …?
What if …?
Tell me about yourself.
Why should I hire you?
Classroom management
Student teaching
Personal strengths
Personal weaknesses
Hypothetical situations
Teaching style
Future plans
Employment history
Motivational theories
Health history

        Obviously, I couldn’t write about this whole chapter, simply because there were so many great suggestions. To me, this was one of the most important chapters in this book. I am so incredibly nervous about finding my groove as a teacher, but, as one of my previous teachers once told me, you will be great teachers simply because you do worry about these things. We obviously love learning, so we just need to continue to be willing to learn as we go and improve upon ourselves.

Closing thoughts

Through your practicum/observation experiences, have you already noticed a difference between your expectations of a classroom and the reality?

How do you plan to develop your teacher persona?

How do you plan to involve your students’ parents in their children’s learning? How involved do you want their parents?

How will you define yourself for job interviews?

Bridging English, 5th ed. by Milner, Milner & Mitchell