I have a lot of teacher friends. Not colleagues or coworkers – friends. I hang out with them on weekends and watch Packers games with them. Some are related to me, some by blood and others by marriage, so we share in family gatherings. And, yeah, we’re Facebook friends. Like anyone, they post about the joys and frustrations of their jobs occasionally (within reason – no name dropping or boss bashing). And some of these friends teach at the college level.
This post is directed at my younger readers – the teens who are not yet in college and the young adults making their way through higher education now. Kids, when I say I know what you need to do to get ready for college, it’s not just because I’ve been there before. I may also be friends with your future professors. They tell me things – things that probably should be common sense, but apparently isn’t since they’re dealing with this stuff on a daily basis. So consider me your inside source on college professors and take this well-meaning advice, both for your sake and theirs. Keep reading!
“It’s kind of hard here, isn’t? You have to figure out a lot on your own, don’t you?” The other sub was older than me, in her forties at least, but she was looking to me for advice. She’s right; we subs aren’t given much guidance, but I hadn’t really thought about it until she started asking her questions. I know how to manage a classroom, even if I don’t know the particulars of school policies, so I just do what comes naturally. And between all the moving, subbing, and starting over, I’ve had a lot of practice at making a good first impression on a room full of teenagers.
I connect well with my students. It’s probably my biggest strength in the classroom and a trait that has carried me well over the years. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve walked into a new class for the first time, either as a sub or as a long-term teacher. While I’ve never really had the opportunity to see if I have staying power beyond one year, I do know that I can make a good first impression.
So in the spirit of the Weekly Writing Challenge, this advice goes out to my fellow substitutes, or to anyone else who may need to walk to into a high school classroom for the first time.
1. Come in with a smile. Now, I’ve heard the quips about not letting students see you smile in the first week, and I understand the reasoning. Students need to know to take you seriously. They need to know you mean business. But I’ve learned that I can be firm without being grumpy. A smile lets the teens know I enjoy my job, and I enjoy sharing a room with them. That’s important.