image from Flickr user brennan.v

I am preparing a couple longer posts to make up for my lack of writing here but, in the meantime, the incredibly awesome Dina Strasser has published some of her own words that do a better job than I ever could.  I’m including a quote here as part of my series “That’s What I’m Talking About”.

In a recent article for Ed Week, Strasser responds to a pre-service teacher who is concerned about committing to such a stressful career.  Dina provides some FANTASTIC advice, including this little gem about finding those fellow teachers who will support you:

“Note the names of the cool, respectful, interesting teachers your students mention, and forsake your buddies to sit with those teachers during faculty meetings. Ask for book recommendations from people who are constantly apologizing for their geekiness (this is an excellent sign that they would make good teaching friends). Write embarrassingly honest posts on your teaching blog and solicit comments on them. Attend professional conferences on unpaid time, collecting the e-mail addresses of dedicated teachers like rare coins, and then actually e-mailing these people—even if they don’t e-mail you first.

When you find your teaching friends, ‘grapple them to your soul with hoops of steel,’ as Shakespeare wrote. Do not worry about what you look like while you’re doing it. Kindred spirits will understand.”

I realize now that this is exactly what I did over the past few years when I was lucky enough to discover these types of “teaching friends”.  More than any other factor, these people are the reason that I am still a classroom teacher after ten years.  I hope that they know the impact that they have had, and that I’ve returned the favor by being a teaching friend to others.

Does this resonate with anyone else?

4 thoughts on “Advice for New Teachers [TWITA]

  1. Absolutely. I would also add that new teacher works on telling the difference between a skeptic and a cynic. The former will force us to reconsider and justify our claims. Whilst the cynics will drag you into a bottomless pit of an unproductive professional life. Oh and read John Hattie ‘s ‘Visible Learning’, its all about Feedback!

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  2. Resonates clear & true Paul. Those who are gifted teachers themselves, who then also help you along your own path as a teacher, are truly rare and special. Kindred spirits indeed.

    Also, I really appreciate John Burrell’s clear explanation of the defining line between skepticism and cynicism. Well stated! It can be hard even for an experienced teacher to recognize the difference, in others or even in themselves, especially when within the difficult trenches of our profession. Cheers for that!

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  3. I love this piece, Paul, because the advice that you’ve chosen to share is infinitely doable.

    Sometimes I think the suggestions we give to new teachers are ridiculously overwhelming simply because being a new teacher is already ridiculously overwhelming.

    Simple first steps like the ones you’ve chosen to spotlight will go a whole lot farther in improving the teaching experience for the newest members of our profession.

    When are we getting together to continue our mental synergy supported by malt beverages action research project?

    There’s data to collect, Paul.

    ; )
    Bill

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    1. Bill,

      I think I’ll be in the researching mood in a couple of weeks when I track out.

      Here’s to putting the “mentation” in fermentation!

      -Paul

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