By Stephanie Nicoletti
“The best thing about teaching is that it matters. The hardest part about teaching is that it matters every day.”
This quote is from Todd Whitaker – I had the pleasure of hearing him speak last month along with many other education experts. This quote sums up everything being an educator means. I am so excited to start blogging for The Marquette Educator. I want to share ideas that I learn from others and create a network of life-long learning. I am going to start with some reflection from my first year of teaching and advice for those going into their first year.
I walked into my second grade classroom as a brand new teacher, wondering what this career would bring. I felt my classes at Marquette taught me everything I needed to know about literacy, math and how to write extremely thorough lesson plans. My biggest concern: classroom management. I kept thinking to myself, “Any student teaching I did, the cooperating teacher set up routines, we did not have a classroom management class, oh my gosh, what if they eat me alive?”
Other staff members kept admiring and questioning my room layout: carpet in the middle, desks formed into tables around the carpet. It was an open concept with flexible seating. I wondered why there was so much amazement with this layout. I soon realized this was new to some of my colleagues. In other rooms, desks covered the floors in rows. Then, September 1st came around. I taught the students how to choose a good place to sit, built extremely strong relationships with my students, and made learning hands-on. Behaviors seemed to diminish, and students whose past teachers seemed to dread and talk negatively about began to flourish. As I reflected, providing choice in the classroom, an open layout, and building strong relationships is the key to effective classroom management. This is more than anything I would have learned in a pre-service education class.
I am a novice teacher and am learning every day, so my message to brand new teachers is this: you will question everything you implement. Always be confident in what Marquette has taught you and trust your gut. You know more than you think you do, but stay humble enough to know when to ask for help. Be flexible, build relationships, and watch how your students grow immensely.