Do 50% of teachers really leave the profession within 5 years? A more recent study shows that this number is actually a lot smaller at just 17%. So don’t be discouraged when you encounter difficulties in your first few years as a teacher. If you persist, you will find that as you gain experience, things will get easier. That is, if you are deliberately practicing to become a better teacher – because, let’s face it – some teachers aren’t getting better as time goes on because they aren’t trying to get better. Makes sense, huh?
In looking back at my experience as a teacher, there are a few things I found myself doing regularly:
1. Reflect! Every. Single. Day.
An ever-effective teacher reflects upon his or her practice on a daily basis. He or she constantly evaluates what worked, did not, and how to make it better for next time. This will also help teachers to be more proactive and foresee issues that might arise in the classroom before they actually do.
2. Pay for it now, or pay more for it with interest later.
Teachers who regularly attend professional development will be less likely to struggle in the classroom. This is true for even more seasoned teachers because trainings often get us to think about what we are doing in the classroom, and what we need to be doing differently (#reflecting). Choosing to skip those trainings? You will pay for it with interest later when you need to figure out how to solve classroom issues on your own through sometimes extensive trial and error
3. Build relationships with your students.
Emphasize building relationships with your students. It will go a long way in reaching your students and helping to build their motivation to learn. In turn, you will come to a point in which you will feel an authentic sense of fulfillment and purpose once you see the impact you made on the children you have grown to care about
4. Build relationships with the school community
You are part of a dynamic and living organization in which every stakeholder (teachers, students, parents, administration, community members, etc.) has the ability to add or take away from the school climate. Get involved. Be seen as a contributor. Be seen as someone who genuinely cares about the school, its mission, and the direction the academic program is going. In the process, you will find yourself in the position of an influenced supported by many others in the community. Remember, there is no such things as a dream classroom, or dream school without some real effort being put in by the people involved.
5. Learn and Grow.
Got that B.A.? Of course, you’re teaching now, aren’t you? Have you considered more units? M.A.? How about an admin credential? A doctoral degree? There are numerous online programs and sometimes district offerings that make it easy to earn these salary growing and resume building items. By planting these seeds and growing them now, you will later find yourself with way more professional opportunities. In addition ,you will know more about how to be an effective teacher and find your job to be even easier.
6. Live a balanced life.
Every teacher struggles with finding how to live a balanced life. There is no universal way to be “balanced” but it is seriously important. The last thing you want to do is find yourself being in a situation of burnout. When you reach this point, you aren’t in-tune with your school or classroom, not reflecting properly anymore, and/or are thinking of leaving your job. Maybe it is time to blow off some steam? Already did? Revisit points #1-5