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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Reflections from my First Year Teaching Orchestra and Advice for NewTeachers

I remember in college my professors telling me that the first year of teaching is always hard and difficult and not to worry...that the first year is terrible for everyone, but that things would be better after that. I cant say those words made me super excited for my first year, but i had a great mentor teacher who would say, "can you believe they pay us for this!?" My mentor seemed to always be having fun and he enjoyed his work.  I liked his attitude and enthusiasm.

 I found the mentor's words to ring true my first year (2000). I wondered when things were going to be as scary as my professors said, but that never happened.  I remember there were some interns doing their first year teaching at the same time as me and some of them struggled a lot.  One of them even quit, but my first year was just plain fun. After being told what to do and how to do it all through college and student teaching, it felt great to make my own decisions and run my own classroom.

So, my advice to new teachers......

1. Be Yourself. Sometimes I see and hear of amazing teachers with huge award winning programs and I feel a little intimidated because I dont know if I can ever be as good as they are. But really, I can't be someone else. I have to teach my own way and my own style and not pretend I am someone else. Students know when you are genuine. Let your own passion of teaching and music come through.

2. Have Fun. If it's not fun for you, its not fun for the students. If you have fun, the kids have fun. When I notice that I am stuck in a routine or if I am getting bored, I go home and think of a way to switch things up in class. I play games and I try to surprise my students to keep them interested.

3. Make friends. I remember hearing this in college...make friends with secretaries, janitors, helps a lot!  One thing I regret about my first year is that I did not make strong connections with my co-workers.

4. Trust yourself. You know what you are have had plenty of instruction....go with your gut. 

5.  Be Aware.  I am constantly gauging student reaction to my teaching.  If I see they are bored, I try to change what I am doing.  If they look lost, I try to another teaching strategy.  If they are noisy, I get their attention.

6. Pacing.  One reason why I rarely have discipline problems is because I keep my classroom busy.  The kids don't have time to goof off.  There are some days where I am better at this than others....and sometimes the pacing has to be different based on what we are working on.   I have to keep my energy up and get enough sleep to keep my pacing as fast as I like it.

Feel free to add comments!  What happened during your first year?  What advice would you give a new teacher?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for creating this blog! I've been teaching violin privately for a number of years and just started teaching group violin classes at a private school, which is close enough to an orchestra for my purposes! I am encouraged by the existence of your website!