Feeling a little trepidation as you embark on your teaching career is only natural. If you're a little tense, check out these suggestions that will help you keep calm and grow comfortable in your new role.
Having a case of the jitters when starting a new job is natural for every profession, but new teachers find themselves in an especially stressful position. If you flub your first sales call or misplace an important document right before a meeting, it's easy enough to recover without anyone noticing. Teachers, however, have 20-30 pairs of eyes following their every move, meaning there's little room for error and the stakes seem higher.
As scary as it may seem, fear and nerves are no reason to put a stop to your fledgling career! If you're on the verge of starting or have just begun teaching, you can take comfort in the knowledge that just about every teacher before you has had to deal with the same set of nerves and pressures, and they made it through.
The following sections include some of the more common worries, and more importantly, what you can do to overcome them and succeed as a teacher.
One: What If I'm Not Ready?
If you ever find yourself doubting your own credentials, just think back to the veritable mountain of assignments, projects, and theses you had to complete in order to get where you are today. You're never going to feel 100% prepared, so trust your instincts and training and you'll do just fine.
Fortunately, this is also the first fear to be conquered. As your level of experience in the classroom continues to increase, so too will your worries diminish. Better yet, you're only going to get better as time passes. Experience is indeed the best teacher, and every single day you'll learn something new that will make you a better educator.
Two: What If I Make a Mistake?
Although to err is human, your students may not always see it that way. Unruly students are constantly looking for ways to undermine your authority and will jump on any chance to point out your faults.
Internally, remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes. Nobody's perfect and even the best teachers misspell a word or temporarily forget a mathematical formula. Just because you're not a student, it doesn't mean you can't keep learning. If you notice that any particular subject is giving you trouble, spend a little time reacquainting yourself with the material to avoid future missteps.
Externally, find a way to take things in stride without letting your students see you sweat. For example, give out small rewards to any students who can find a typo on an assignment. Instead of an embarrassing mistake, it looks like a teaching moment, with your students none the wiser.
Three: What If I Can't Control My Students?
A deep understanding of the academic content is only half the battle when it comes to managing a class of 20 or more students. You'll also need to keep control of your students, and that can mean dealing with unruly and challenging kids.
At times like these, it's a good idea to reach out to more experienced teachers. Ask your coworkers for advice about dealing with rowdy classes. There's also plenty of online support, such as these Study.com articles on dealing with challenging students and connecting with smart but rebellious pupils
Four: What If Parents Give Me Trouble?
As if dealing with students wasn't hard enough, you'll also need to contend with their parents. While the majority of parents are only too happy to cooperate with and support your efforts, you're bound to encounter a troublesome parent. They may be completely uninterested in their child, or they may be too interested (the dreaded 'helicopter parent' is not just a myth.)
When dealing with uncooperative or aggressive parents, it's important to remember that you're on the same side. You both want what's best for the child, even if you don't agree on the best way to go about it. Keep your cool, stay professional, and be patient; giving into your emotions and engaging in an argument will accomplish nothing and could lead to disciplinary action. Remain composed and stand your ground; in time, you will reach a solution.
Five: What If I'm Not Good at Teaching?
Perhaps the most common fear in all professions, not just teaching, is that of inadequacy. Whether you're a professional athlete or career politician, everyone has his or her own moments of doubt.
As with the fear of not being prepared, you need only look back at how much you've already accomplished. Colleges and universities don't just give degrees to anyone, and between your bachelor's and master's degree programs, certification exams, and whatever else you've had to go through, you've more than proved that you're capable of enjoying a long career as an educator.
Don't let one bad day early on in your career scare you off. Everyone goes through a rough patch, but if you keep at it, your persistence will pay off when a compliment from an administrator, a parent, or a student will lead to the acknowledgement that, yes, you are a good teacher!
Closing Pep Talk
There's no doubt that teaching can be a nerve-wracking and stressful career. That being said, there's no reason to doubt yourself. You're a competent and skilled educator, and you'll do just fine. With a little perseverance and hard work, you'll soon find yourself feeling much more confident and comfortable in the classroom.
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