What new teachers need to know

Check out 50 More Things New Teachers Need To Know at Gently Hew Stone. Number 13 advises:

Don’t try to “convert” your students to a love of reading, or any other aspect of your subject. They are almost certain to come into your class with deeply set prejudices about academic activities, prejudices that you’re not likely to impact. Yes, give them opportunities to experience the joy of your subject, and show them your enthusiasm for it (that’ll be valuable for those who do have open minds), but don’t be afraid to assign reading, writing, and any other kind of assignment as a chore. Your best shot for reaching kids with any kind of meaningful seriousness about most things will be to honestly tell them that whether or not they like it, it’s important and necessary. They’ll groan and whine, but at least you can dispense with the cheerleading and get down to some real content. Ultimately, that’ll reward everybody.

Also, Huston tells male teachers not to tell a girl when she’s dressed like a junior hooker.  Get a female teacher to do it.

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Comments

  1. I never comment on what my female students are wearing. I find my female colleagues are more likely to do so. Why I have no idea.

    I don’t think I’d let my daughter go to school dressed like some of my students do, though.

  2. I have no compunction about telling a student that she’s improperly dressed. Noticing that isn’t the problem, being improperly dressed is. If someone wanted to make an issue of it, I’d claim sexual harassment on the part of the person flashing their body.

  3. Darren, I strongly advise against telling a female student that she is improperly dressed. The potential for her misinterpreting your admonition or making something up about you is too great. Think of it as a cost-benefit analysis. What is the best possible outcome of you admonishing a female student over her dress? She has to go change in the nurse’s office, her parents have a talk with her, and you have upheld a relatively minor rule. The worst possible outcome, however, is that she lies about you to get out of trouble or misinterprets something you said and now you have some serious issues to deal with. About a decade ago a male colleague of mine got transfered to the alternative school and his reputations was shot (he almost lost his job) because a female student accused him of being improper when he wrote her up for a dress code violation. It isn’t worth it, Darren. Let the female teachers handle this situations.

  4. I would not tell the student that they are inappropriately dressed. But if it violates school dress policy I would point it out to the principal who is in charge of enforcing that.

  5. NYC Ed: We do it to help you guys out — so you don’t have to deal with it. I’m not going to get slapped with a sexual harassment accusation.

  6. Gently Hew Stone’s admonitions underscore just how much educators are up against. Teens are constantly exposed to media and advertising that undermine many of the lessons parents and schools aim to reinforce.

  7. Robert Wright says:

    Mr. Wright’s List of 10 Things All New Teachers Should Know:

    1. Do not ever be alone with a female student. If you have to assign a girl detention, be sure to assign a boy, too, or another girl who is not her friend.

    2. Go out of your way to be good to the custodian. The custodian has great power over you. Stay on his good side or perish.

    3. Stay on the good side of the school secretary. When Secretaries’ Day comes, spend a ridiculous amount of money on stuff for the entire office staff.

    4. Always have on hand a couple of screw drivers, a hammer, a pair of pliers, AA batteries, AAA batteries, a flashlight, bandaides and safety pins.

    5. Know that you’ll never, ever have a disagreement with parents when you are praising their child. Even if you tell the most outrageous lie, if it’s positive, they will smile and agree with you. Know, too, that if a parent complains about you, it helps if you’re in the right, but only a little.

    6. Do not admit to having any difficulties at all until you get tenure. What asked how things are going, say things are going great and that you love your job.

    7. Know that you are judged on appearances, not reality. Results are not measured. Don’t waste time and energy on reality if it’s going to take away from time and energy you could be putting toward appearances. There are no rewards for doing a good job so don’t expect any. Twenty years down the road you might get a letter of gratitude from an ex-student. And that will make your day. But don’t expect anything in the meantime.

    8. If the principal has difficulty remembering your name, that’s a good thing. The last thing you ever want to do is make his telephone ring.

    9. Let go of the idea that the primary purpose of school is to educate children. The primary purpose is get through to the end of the year. That’s what the princiapl wants, what the counselors want, what the librarian wants, what 8 of 10 teachers want. Count the days, reach June 12th, and you’ve made it.

    10. On Treat Day, don’t bring donuts. Bring egg rolls with extra red sauce. And don’t forget the paper plates.

  8. 5. Know that you’ll never, ever have a disagreement with parents when you are praising their child. Even if you tell the most outrageous lie, if it’s positive, they will smile and agree with you.

    Actually my mum was furious with one of my brother’s teachers for giving him a high mark for an essay where he hadn’t actually answered the essay question. Mum said he should have gotten zero.
    Of course we had external exams at high school, so marks at school were merely preparation for that.

  9. Tracy: all of our principals are men, so we try to help them out with the scantily dressed girls. In some cases, the mothers show up to parent night/conferences, etc, dressed the same, or I hear, “My mom and I went out to get tatoos together this weekend, see mine?!” In which case, I do try to have a conversation about appropriate dress for the situation — somebody should tell them. A dear friend of ours whose daughter ended up in our neck of the woods for a graduate degree was looking for jobs around here and having no luck. She happened to show up at our house for an event in her interview clothes — which were in nice neutral colors and fabrics, but down to there and up to here — and we knew what the issue is. I sat down with her and explained that she was looking for a job in the bible belt, and she had to put the girls away for that. She really is a smart, accomplished, outgoing person — just needed a bit of coaching so her brain could precede her bust in the workplace. This isn’t my job, of course, but it’s hard to leave the mom at the door sometimes.

    And I don’t falsely praise a kid who is being lazy/a turd. Parents see through that in a flat second — that kid has been a turd since 2nd grade and he darn sure didn’t make an instant turnaround for me. Better to open the conversation with, “I tried x, and it worked a little bit,” or “I’m trying this…” — and then find some genuine praise. That also gives the parents a chance to tell you, “Oh no, that never works, but Mrs. So-and-so last year used to do Y and it worked pretty well.”

    I get little thank you notes from kids and parents all the time. I keep them in my happy folder to out on those really baaaaad weeks.

  10. Oh, my advice to new teachers:
    Find the teachers who are still learning and improving in your building — they could be brand new like you or be going into their 30th year (who went to workshops, took classes, traveled to China over the summer?) Know where they eat lunch. Make friends with them and avoid avoid avoid the bitter ones who think they know it all and can’t possibly do more or better than they’re doing now. You have no time or energy for soul-sucking complainers.

  11. #4 Genius!! Believe it people!

    ” Know that you are judged on appearances, not reality. Results are not measured. Don’t waste time and energy on reality if it’s going to take away from time and energy you could be putting toward appearances. There are no rewards for doing a good job so don’t expect any.”

    Robert, while I agree with you that there are no stickers given to teachers for a good job, I do struggle with your statement. Yes, if my classroom is clean and my bulletin boards are pretty, I will be left alone. I am judged by two minute snippets and the appearance of my classroom. HOWEVER, I do not think this is a reason to focus on appearances to the exclusion of reality. Perhaps I misread or misunderstood your point, but to me it appears that you are saying we should just be a part of the dog and pony show, rather than focusing on the reality of what our students need. If that is indeed what you meant, I find that very troubling.

    Your stuff about the “soul-sucking complainers”…right on! I love to vent, but try not to do it at work where NO ONE needs a Debbie Downer.

  12. I choose not to live in fear that some child will lie about me. It’s happened before and it will happen again, but cowering isn’t in my nature. The day I’m afraid of students is the day I quit teaching.

  13. Richard Cook says:

    Robert you forgot number 11:

    Don’t go into teaching.