I loved so many things about college, but some of the things I loved most (besides weekend extracurriculars...) were my elementary ed classes. I attended a tiny liberal arts school with a reputation for high standards in central Illinois, and my el ed program had a total of 12 people in it. We got super close during out methods classes junior year, got each other through student teaching senior year, and graduated ready and excited to teach and inspire the youth of America. But were we really ready?
|My and my El Ed BFF from college--we both graduated with teaching jobs. |
Look how unsuspecting and naive we are here...
|I was so excited to set up this first classroom!|
|From my blog my first year...|
|My blog looked very different back then :)|
The interview got me thinking a lot about the things I wish I'd learned in college. Here's my short list:
- How to teach literacy using a reading series as a starting point--My liberal arts school was all about literature circles, novel studies, text sets, and interdisciplinary units. Those are all beautiful and wonderful things, but they are not the reality in many districts that require use of a reading series. I wish I'd learned how to navigate a series and supplement it with other high quality texts.
- How to teach guided math--Many districts have been moving towards guided math in recent years, including mine. I didn't graduate too terrible long ago, so I don't think it's unreasonable to say it would have been awesome to learn a little about guided math structures in undergrad. This has been a tricky one to learn on the fly!
- Different ways of structuring guided reading time--This was one of my biggest challenges early on my first year. Like I said, we didn't learn much about guided reading itself in college, but we DEFINITELY didn't learn what to do with the rest of the class when you are doing groups. I wish I'd learned about Debbie Diller, Daily 5, and Reading Workshop in college so I'd have been able to choose one that worked great for me and hit the ground running my first year. It took until Thanksgiving for me to have a real Daily 5 structure in place!
- Formal and Informal Assessment--I could have used a whole class on this. Enough said.
- MANAGEMENT!!!--I cannot say enough how important it is for new teachers to learn different philosophies and strategies for management. Many universities don't teach too much about management at all, so all new teachers have to go off of is instinct and whatever systems their cooperating teacher used during student teaching. I wish I'd have had a whole class in management where we could explore many different systems and philosophies.
So much of teaching just needs to be learned on the job through experience, but I really feel like university programs could do a far better job of preparing young teachers. I'm sure nothing could really have prepared me for the zoo I walked into my first year, but I wonder if I'd have had a few less tears if I'd learned a few of these things in undergrad!!
What do you wish you'd learned in college before you started teaching?