Ironically, the day after I came back from my TFA Preview Weekend, I bumped into a former teacher of mine. Ms. Van Zandt was my U.S. History teacher in high school. It felt like I had come full circle. I was finishing college and was about to become a teacher like she had been. She was a great instructor and because a teacher never stops being a teacher, she left me with some words of advice.
1. You are not your students’ friend, you are their teacher.
– Respect your students and they will respect you. Respect yourself as well.
2. Some students may fight you in the classroom, but it’s not you they’re fighting
- Many times, students with issues at home may bring that burden into the classroom. Don’t take offense to mean things that seem to be directed at you. A lot of times, kids are just reacting to the negative things they are dealing with.
3. You will become some of your students’ greatest confidante
- Prepare yourself, it might be heavy stuff. Students for today go through stuff we never had to deal with when we were in school.
4. Be honest about what you know and what you don’t know.
- There is nothing worse than a teacher acting like she/he knows it all. When the students find out the teacher’s lack of knowledge in an area, all credibility is gone. Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something. That is the beginning of learning.
Other educators: Please feel free to add any other tips to the comment section.
It was great bumping into Ms. Van Zandt. She was an instructor whose actions I knew I wanted to emulate in my classroom. She follows her own advice well. I admire that she was human. She expressed real emotions and spoke her mind. She challenged her students to do the same. She is only one of my many inspiring professors. She has retired from teaching now, and I am hoping to take up her vacated position in the education world. Many I will make the same impact on my students that my teachers made on me.