What Teacher Educators Don’t Teach You

 

I was exploring the website BAM! Radio for some helpful educational podcasts. I came across one titled “New Teachers: Three Things They Didn’t Teach You in Education School.” Any time I come across a title that has “new teachers” in it, I immediately click on it. Any tips I can get about becoming a teacher I read (or listen to), whether I plan to implement them in my own classroom or not. Thanks to the wonderful world of internet, there are truly endless resources out there for teachers, both old and new!

In this podcast, Dana Dunnan, author of Notes to a New Teacher, shared some of his thoughts and ideas for new teachers. He thought that he knew everything there possibly was to know about teaching, but as a new teacher he ran into some unknowns. Dunnan said he made a few mistakes when he began his teaching career. First, he thought he was too showy in his Stanford attire because he made people feel uncomfortable. I’m assuming that I will have a dress code at the school I will work for, so I’m not sure how often I’d be able to come to school decked out in my collegiate gear. Even so, I’ll keep his tip in mind since it’s never a good idea to make people uncomfortable, especially my new coworkers. Dunnan also said he didn’t join a teaching union right away, which he regrets big time. He suggests joining them right away, and then deciding later on whether or not it’s helpful for you. Lastly, Dunnan felt he got burnt out on teaching because he approached it with such a high level of energy. He compares teaching to a marathon, not a sprint. The school year is long and it’s important to maintain a certain level of energy throughout the entirety of the year.

Dunnan gave a couple of discipline tips, which included trying to anticipate the reaction you’d get out of a student when using a certain technique. Another tip was to let the student feel they have some sense of control over the situation and give them a choice between two consequences. This saves some of their dignity, according to Dunnan.

Dunnan highly suggests bringing in as many guests to your class as you can find. He found that walking up to someone and asking them to come talk to his students worked way better than sending a generic e-mail. The worst the person is going to do is say “No.”

A problem with teaching that Dunnan ran into was evaluations. The things evaluators come up are not always that helpful and do not always need to be implemented. Most of the time they suggest things because it is their job to come up with suggestions. Instead, the evaluators should help set reasonable expectations for teachers.

When asked about how to prepare for the first day of school, Dunnan suggested to instead look at the first couple days of school. The first couple of days is where the teacher has to set a lot of the routines and convey to the students the level of expectations. It is also crucial to give the students a sense of the culture of your classroom. There is a lot you may not have learned in school and you actually will learn more from the teachers who have been at that school for a while. I think it’s a great idea to start the year building strong relationships with coworkers and finding a few that will help you make your first year of teaching really successful.

I think that podcasts are definitely a great way of learning, but I don’t think it has the capacity to replace teachers and schools all together. I think there are ways to incorporate podcasts into the school setting as a supplement exercise. The convenience of them are very appealing, since you can listen to podcasts virtually anywhere. It’s also convenient for students to be able to listen to things over again, especially when working on homework or projects outside of school. I think podcasts would be an excellent resource for teachers to leave for substitutes. This ensures that a lesson is being taught in the way you anticipated. However, I think students of all ages need in class time with a teacher in order to fully grasp a concept. I find it easier to lose focus when just listening to a lesson, rather than actually watching someone talk. I am interested to learn more about podcasts and to see how exactly they are being used in different types of classrooms.