Sunday, September 5, 2010

5 Tips for a Great School Year!

The coming school year is almost at our throats, so instead of being one of those Gloomy Gus teachers who bemoan the start of a brand new year, I thought I'd impart some wisdom to help you look forward to this wondrous adventure. Here are some tips guaranteed to make your school year a smashing success!

Tip #1: Make sure you work at a great school.
I can't tell you how many "newbies" overlook this one. I made the mistake of working at a crappy school for most of my teaching career, and boy, was it the wrong thing to do! The students were disrespectful and rarely worked hard. Then, after a couple of decades of teaching the toughest kids, I decided to "shift gears" and work at a great school! I can't tell you the difference it made in my professional career! Not only do the students learn more, but I no longer have to carry my wallet in my shoes!

Tip #2: Make sure you have a great principal. Now you might think this goes along with the first tip, but it doesn't always. There are a few great schools where the principals are horror shows, but not many. So how do you know whether the great school you've chosen to work at has a great leader? Simple! On the first day of school, walk right into the teachers' cafeteria and say in your cheeriest voice, "Hey, our principal is the greatest guy ever!" (If the principal is female, you may want to adapt the above). If you walk out of the cafeteria unscathed, you'll know your principal is a winner. If you walk out festooned in rancid cole slaw, you'll know a change is needed.

Tip #3: Made sure you have the best students. This is crucial. Just because you're in a great school with great leadership doesn't mean you have the best kids. You're going to be evaluated on the performance of your students, so you need to make sure you have only the best. Hop on over to ARIS and check to see how your prospective students did on the ELA and math exams last year. If their scores don't meet your expectations, be sure to speak up! March into your principal's office and say in a calm but assertive voice, "Hey, Mr. Principal! (Again, adjust for female principals). (Don't say what's in the parentheses). Did you even look at the drek rosters you gave me? How's about some smart kids? I mean, this is my career we're talking about here!" Your principal is sure to admire your initiative and reward you with the best program the school has to offer.

Tip #4: Use your preps wisely. You only have so much prep time per day, so you need to maximize its value. Lesson planning is a bore and will rarely help you advance, so make up your mind to spend those precious periods acting as a liaison for your principal. To do this, spend as much time as you can with your peers and listen to what they say. You'll be amazed at the things you'll hear. Then bring those tidbits to your principal. He (or she) will surely appreciate it, and reward you next year with the best classes (see Tip #3).

Tip #5: Ignore the latest trends. Trends can kill you! Some recent teacher books give you exactly the wrong advice! For example, the bestseller "Teach Like an Olympic Javelin Thrower" tells you to "stand next to students who are talking inappropriately and they will soon get the message." Yes, they sure will--the message that you're the enemy! Inner city teachers can be shot for breaking up conversations. That's why you should look for your teaching tips from a reliable source, such as yours truly. If you followed Tip #1, for example, your chances of getting shot for any reason are greatly reduced.

That's all you need to get started. Just follow my advice for a happy, productive, and relatively bullet-free school year!


NYC Educator said...

I think you neglected an important point--before doing any of the above, it's a good idea to be born with billionaire parents. This provides a convenient fallback position in case any of your suggestions prove problematic.

It's never too early to start planning!

Groucho said...

I haven't met a principal that shouldn't be fired, or jailed for that matter. Having positive attitude went out the door after my first year.

Chaz said...

Mr. Talk:

I do respect your suggestions, especially the last one). However, I take my classroom management lessons from the greatest teacher I know.
nyc educator.

ASTRAKA said...

Stop terrorizing new teachers, please! ;)

Anonymous said...

Being a snitch to your principal is not a very good suggestion. Work hard and choose your friends wisely. You will be rewarded if you do the right thing instead of trying to get others in trouble. Speaking from personal experience, although it was a rough 2 years, I am now a better teacher because of the experiences I had as a new teacher in an inner city school with unmotivated and horribly behaved children with an unsupportive administration. I am now truly appreciative of the wonderful children I have the privilege to spend time with everyday.

NYC Educator