Christina, our guest blogger,
offers important advice to those moving
from pre-service to in-service.
“Becoming a Complete Teacher” in Bridging English
By Christina K.
Every single day all of us are closer to becoming English teachers. It is a very exciting time to know that all of our hard work will be used for something good. However, although our label is changing from pre-service to teacher it is not safe to assume that we know it all. Also, we cannot assume that we will be perfect on the first day of school. Chapter 15 discusses the essential concerns for becoming a complete teacher.
Defining Yourself as a Teacher
On page 454 in the book, it lists six major concerns for pre-service teachers. These concerns include:
Relationships with students, parents, colleagues, and administrators
Handling the workload
Grading and Evaluation
Physical Appearance and Personal Likability
New teachers often have unrealistic expectations. It is important for new teachers to realize that everything does not happen overnight. New teachers are going to struggle with different challenges.
Margaret Metzger outlines four stages in the arc of a creative and substantive teaching career:
Initial Years: Personal Struggle, Self-Absorption
Middle Period: Curriculum focus, mastery of content and teaching style
Maturing Era: Concern for content that is authentic, honest, and challenging.
Personal state: Internal Exploration, a turn to one’s personal life for teaching insight.
This section covers the topic of shaping a teacher persona. Teachers have multiple layers to their persona. They are viewed based on the subjects they are teaching within the classroom. It is important to stick to what you have to teach but of course spice it up a little bit. Teachers also are judged on how they are viewed within the community. It is important to be involved in community groups such as the PTSA. However, the initial beginning of a teacher persona occurs at the interview. Teachers are judged on multiple things when they are interviewed for a position at school. Please see page 458 Figure 15-2 for commonly used interview questions and topics.
Building Public Trust
The book suggests three ways for students to build a strong relationship between the home and the classroom. It is important to understand that not all households are the same. Some of our students only have one parent raising them, parents who are divorced, or are raised by another member of their family. We should be careful to never assume anything.
Teachers should INCLUDE parents by building a relationship with teachers and letting them know that their feedback and participation is valued.
Teachers should INFORM parents by keeping them up to speed on their child’s progress in the classroom. Parents should hear about the positive and negative things their child is doing in the classroom.
Teachers should INVOLVE parents by seeking their participation in different classroom activities and promoting educational activities for the child and parent to do outside of the classroom.
See page 460 in the book for a list of National PTA “Top Ten Parent Recommendations for Teacher Effectiveness and Student Learning”.
Promoting Professional Growth
It is important for teachers to never remain stagnant in their career. The book lists the following things to do to make sure that you are always growing!
· Goal Setting
· Self Evaluation
· Peer Review
· External Assessment
· Guild Building
· Teacher Association Memberships i.e. NCTE
Many of us became teachers because we do not want to have our names in lights. However, that does not mean that there are not leadership opportunities within the field of education. Teachers need to make sure that they are taking a stand for what they believe in and advocating for their students and colleagues. Of course it is not expected for a new teacher to arrive on the first day of school with his/her leadership pants on. Eventually there will be opportunities. Below are a few ways teachers can take the lead:
· When asked, help,
· Relate to colleagues as you relate to students
· Suggest agenda items for faculty gatherings
· Join a National Writing Project site
· Don’t say “no” to leadership opportunities
· Communicate regularly with parents
· Promote/organize teacher led seminars
· Build a reputation as the best listener in your school
On page 468 there is a chart for the leadership growth path in the careers of all teachers!
I learned a lot from this chapter because it addressed some of my fears for being a teacher. I strive for perfection in most of my day to day activities. I do not want to let my students down, but this chapter calmed my nerves. It proved that it [developing as a teacher] takes time.
What Do You Think?
· Which of the six concerns above do you relate to the most?
· What are some ways to form a strong relationship with the parents/guardians of your students?