This is actually an ancient-of-days thing I wrote many many moons ago for a friend of mine who was beginning his teaching career. But even seven years later I think I have the same general opinion, so I’m offering it up mostly unedited.
Also, I want to try out multi-screen posting. 🙂
This is in response to a question from TJ, who asked me, “Do you have any advice for a new high school teacher? Classes start in less than 3 weeks. I have to admit I’m a bit nervous.” I figure that, after doing this for three years (now ten!), I’m a veteran if not a pro :). And having really enjoyed doing it for most of that time, I think a little introspection is in order. So, herewith, my advice to TJ, to other new teachers, and to myself, lest I forget:
Show the students respect. They want that. At the high school level, they crave it. I don’t mean accept or approve everything they do. They’ll do a lot of silly, mean, adolescent things. But remember: they are adolescents. They aren’t complete human beings yet, despite what they (or their parents) believe. That’s what makes teaching at this level so exciting. And making them into real people is, in part, your job. So don’t expect erudition and empathy – but be ready to be astounded at the depth they display. If your students are like my students, they will be complex and deep – but only along certain dimensions. Treasure their maturity. Cherish their remaining childlikeness.
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