First off I would like to say Congratulations to all of my friends who graduated from SUNY Cortland this past weekend. It is truly no easy accomplishment and something each and every one of you should be proud of. Now that school is over, many have moved back home and the real world is calling. Many of you will probably start subbing or coaching in order to get your foot in the door of that dream school district with that dream teaching position. I'm here to just share with you what I've learned as someone who has been a substitute teacher/coach for the past two years. I hope you find this inspirational and informational!
1. You Don't Know Everything: Yes, you read that correctly. Although you passed student teaching, passed every course you spent countless hours studying for, and now have a degree in your field of expertise... you still don't know it all (And that's okay!) Take the time to learn something new everyday. Add those little facts or lessons to your memory and keep them for the future. Even as a substitute teacher I thought I knew everything after the first couple of weeks subbing, I'm here to tell you that everyday I learn something. It could be a behavior management strategy or it could a simple little bit of knowledge you learn from teaching a math lesson when your degree says you're a physical educator.
2. Be Prepared For the Good & the Bad: As a substitute teacher, be prepared for anything and everything! The physical education program at SUNY Cortland could not have prepared me for half the things I've encountered as a teacher/coach. Some students are going to be great! Some students are going to be extremely difficult. I once had students rip up assignments in my face and refuse to do any work... what do you do then? Try telling them to sit down? Try calling the office? What if the principal comes up to find a new substitute teacher not being able to control the class? All these things race through your mind, but when it happens once... you'll commit it to memory, reflect upon what you decided, and better prepare yourself if it should happen again.
3. Let Your Personality Show: When talking to the physical education director at one of the schools I sub at, he told the most important thing to do when you're teaching is to let your personality shine in your teaching. Students can tell when you're being sincere and when you're there just to snag a paycheck. Your personality might also rub off on students are a little on the shy side. One time I was subbing for middle school physical education. The teacher had an input for ipods but I couldn't find the ipod for the class. I took mine and hooked it up and started playing dubstep and mashups (all clean versions of songs of course) and the kids loved it! It provided a great energy for the students and I was able to listen to my favorite type of music.
4. Have Fun! As a teacher or coach it's important to remember to have fun! Teaching comes with a lot of baggage. What I mean by baggage is that there are so many tests and mandates that are in place for teachers that sometimes we forget that teaching is fun! It doesn't have to be readings from a book, or multiplication tables. When the kids are having fun, then it reinforces your decision to be an educator. Everyday I can honestly say I chose the right profession because I love working with kids and seeing individuals learn and succeed in something that I taught them. So have fun teaching!
I hope this has helped give you some insight for what is to come in the next couple of months as you transition from the college life to what I like to call the "teaching life". If you remember these four things, then your teaching journey is going to be one thrill of a ride!