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Growing into Teaching: Get to Know Your Students


This is the second of 10 in a series of lessons retired teacher Tom Krause says every new teacher needs to learn to grow in the profession.

Welcome to teaching! You are now part of a profession solely dedicated to helping students of all ages learn. It is a profession where the more you give, the more you get in return. Most famous people are eventually forgotten, but teachers live on in the hearts and minds of their students.

First you need to learn the rules and operating procedures of your new building and district.  Once you have that down, it is time to grow into your occupation.

These are lessons every new teacher should learn. Do not expect to learn them all at once, but as you gain experience, you will find these lessons valuable.

2. It’s About the Students (Get to Know Them)

It is normal for a beginning teacher to ask, “How am I doing?” What new teachers learn is to become more concerned about “How are my students doing?” To grow as a teacher the focus must come off oneself and on to the students in the room. The only true way to know how your students are doing is to get to know them.

The natural growth progression of an experienced teacher was once put in the following terms: The first 10 years, one teaches the curriculum. The second 10 years, one teaches children the curriculum. The last 10 years, one just teaches children.

During your tenure as a teacher, you will find that everything changes but the students. Curriculums, standards, expectations, teaching practices, rules of behavior, educational theories, as well as, you will all change over time. Yet somehow students always remain vessels of hope, waiting for you to spark their curiosity with knowledge. How well you satisfy their expectations depends a lot on how much you know about them.

Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life thinking it is stupid.”

Every student arrives with different abilities. They are not all the same. If you have the opportunity, drive by the homes of your students to see the environment from which they come. That could explain why your students may feel your room is the best place they see all day.

What experienced teachers know is that not all students learn in the same way. Some students learn by listening. Some learn by doing. There are many factors that affect a child’s ability to comprehend a subject. What you will discover is the more you know about the different abilities of each student, the wiser you become in your selection of how best to teach a lesson to your class.

Previous Growing Into Teaching Posts

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