A wonderful top ten list for all teachers – yes, even those of us in the hallowed halls of academia. I am still balancing the ‘cheaply acquired resources’ with the need to have ‘stuff’. People laugh (or perhaps run screaming) when they see me crossing the campus with my big rolling art cart (if you’re interested check out scrapbooking and sewing stores – they have the most amazing selections of rolling storage).
I met a remarkable young teacher (male) who wanted to run a developmental play-based program in his prep room and had to do so on a limited budget. It was amazing what he pulled together over a few weekends of garage sales and by haunting op shops and $2 stores. In my previous life as a music educator, I used to run a great unit of work on making musical instruments. The point is that great teaching can be done on a very limited budget. His delightful group of 5 year olds loved him for it – you should have seen their philosophy class!
As to learning from others. I cannot speak highly enough about having the opportunity to watch other teachers in action, the great and the not so great, to really understand and refine my own practices. I would advocate for any situation where you can team teach or team plan. No teacher should try to go it alone. I learned that the hard way.
These are not strategies, they are merely some good pieces of advice gathered over a life time of teaching. And I would also advocate for preparation with a glass of wine in hand. Many of us are so much more creative and interesting that way.
I absolutely LOVED this article by Valerie Strauss. I totally wish I had read this before I started teaching! Ha!
1) Listen to advice (your mentor, teachers in the lounge, books for new teachers) — but trust your gut. Your goal is becoming an authentic teacher, one with autonomy, mastery and purpose. You will inevitably build a practice by stealing ideas from hundreds of people. The concepts you retain and embed into daily work are those that align and resonate with your core beliefs about education, which will change over time. Learn to trust the little interior voice that tells you what “works” for your colleague — her behavior rewards system based on Jolly Ranchers, say — may be totally wrong for you, in spite of the fact that her class walks quietly in a straight line and your kids are straggling and blabbing.
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