4 Things That Educators Should Know About Preparing For Their First Year of Teaching

By this time, you have accepted your calling to teach and have identified the dispositions to become an excellent teacher. However, in order to maximize the effectiveness of a learning environment, a teacher must have the proper knowledge and experience. Experience is the key to optimizing a teacher’s skills, the classroom environment, and student potential. But how do we gain the experience that we need to be effective?  Gaining practical teaching experience is a process. Prior to any classroom experience, teachers must first learn the components and development of lesson plans, how to use various teaching methods, how to adapt lesson plans to a school’s curriculum, and how to apply these skills to the classroom environment.

After learning the basics, teachers will gain experience by participating in observations, practicums (field experiences), and student teaching. Teachers will use these experiences to develop their own personal teaching portfolios. After receiving a certificate and/or license, teachers must secure a teaching position, and create a classroom environment that is conducive to learning.

This article is the practical, “how-to,” culmination of the series. It will discuss all the components of preparing for that first day of teaching, and how to succeed in your first year. Your immediate needs and interests as a pre-service teachers are examined in detail as are the situations you can expect to encounter in the near-future as you progress through the preparation for and attainment of your professional career.

How do I enroll in a college of education? InTASC’s dispositions can assist you in deciding whether you are truly called to teach. Admission to many colleges of education are granted when students meet the college’s education program requirements. Most teacher education programs require that you pass the Praxis I Skills Test or its equivalent before you are formally admitted.

At this point, you must select elementary or secondary education as your major, and choose your subject area as well. In order to earn a degree and receive licensure in a subject area, you must usually pass another test, such as the Praxis II or its equivalent. These are more focused instruments that specifically test your subject area knowledge. Passing this test will allow you to become certified to teach.

What is involved in field experiences? As part of your teacher preparation program, you will have to participate in field experience. Field experiences will likely include observation, distance learning, and student teaching, often under the eye of a coordinating/mentor teacher in collaboration with your college supervisor. Field experiences provide first hand exposure to as well as understanding of the importance of learner development, learning environments, content knowledge and its application in innovative ways, student assessment, planning and strategies for instruction, and adequate reflection and collaboration.

How can I secure a teaching position? When looking for a teaching position, it is important to first know what and where you want to teach. Contact your career services officer and create a placement file, then start contacting districts. Develop a concise resume, a portfolio, and secure references and reference letters. During the application process, you will have to submit a credentials file, including your resume and cover letter, your letters of recommendation and references, your transcripts and test scores, and your portfolio. Make sure you are adequately prepared for the interview. You should be well-groomed, smartly dressed, and confident. Prepare by doing research about the position, the school and district, and suggestions on responding to sample questions.

How can I succeed in my first year of teaching? Mentor teachers can be very useful in guiding a new teacher, not only in the issues teachers face in the classroom, but in day-to-day minutiae such as finding equipment. During your first year, you will have to undergo a number of evaluations. View these as opportunities to learn and increase your skills. Clinical supervision includes the supervisor’s meeting with you, classroom observation, analysis of the observation, and a post-observation meeting with the supervisor.

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Click here to read all of the articles from this series.

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