First Year Teachers vs. Veteran Teachers: The Elementary Edition
As a stakeholder, knowing the perspectives of various educators will help you target your marketing to better meet the diverse needs of educators. Last year my future daughter in law, Hailey Carlson, was gearing up to do her student teaching. She has since graduated and started her first year as a Kindergarten teacher in Iowa. I may be biased, but I feel those students are lucky to have her. I wanted to interview her and get her perspective on things that I was curious about and compare that to my perspective as a 25+year educator to see if we had more things in common besides my son!
What is the best part about teaching at an elementary level?
(New Teacher)HC- One of the things I love the most about teaching at an elementary level is the students’ excitement and love for learning. Because I teach kindergarten, most of the content is new to my students, and it is so fun to watch their “aha” moments. They see learning as fun rather than a chore. Another thing I love is the sense of humor and the funny comments they make. There is never a day where I go without laughing or smiling in my room.
(Veteran Teacher) TM-I love teaching at an elementary level especially grades third through fifth because these students haven’t learned to “hate” school. I feel like I can make a difference.
What is something you wish you knew before you began teaching?
HC-One thing I wish I knew before I began teaching is the importance of having an optimistic growth mindset. In the first few months of teaching, I faced several challenges and felt like I was being weighed down by self-doubt. Recently, when I’ve faced challenges, I’ve chosen to view them as learning opportunities and give myself some grace. I have also started to shift my mindset to not focus on the negatives as much, but rather appreciate the things that I love about my job.
TM- Parents can be more difficult to deal with than the behavior of my students.
How well do you feel your educator prep program did in preparing you for the classroom?
HC-I feel that my educator prep program did a pretty good job preparing me for the classroom. One thing that I wish I had more of is field experience. I believe that the best way to learn classroom management and flexibility is by actually teaching and working with students.
TM- I feel my ed prep program did a pretty great job since we were in the classroom since freshman year. I’m not sure classroom management was a class, but it should have been. That was rough my first year!
On average, how much time do you spend preparing outside of the classroom?
TM- Since I’m a school librarian, I can’t take my work home with me. I do a lot of other additional duties such as adult education and planning literacy nights, and book fairs throughout the year. In this way I feel very fortunate because I really can’t do much outside time.
HC-I would say that typically, I spend at least an hour a day Monday-Friday preparing outside of the classroom. On the weekends, about 3-4 hours lesson planning and prepping materials.
What has been the most challenging aspect of teaching?
HC-The most challenging part of teaching so far has been creating routines and expectations that meet the needs of my students. It has felt like a lot of trial and error with my transitions, routines, and classroom management tools, but I finally feel like my classroom has a “flow” that is working well for my students.
TM-The negativity about teaching in the media. I love what I do and having parents talk bad about other teachers is really hard for me. “Parents” really wasn’t something I imagined would be a challenge. I even attended a class called Dealing with Difficult Parents to help combat this issue.
We have many things in common, but our love for teaching stands out the most. While we may feel our educator prep programs prepared us to begin teaching, actually we were both terrified on our first day! We both acknowledge that teachers spend a lot of time outside of their contract hours to meet the demands of their jobs, but also are mindful that there needs to be a balance. Teaching in an elementary setting is rewarding, but has its challenges. Having support from various stakeholders can help us meet those challenges.
Written by: Teresa Marchant
School Librarian at LOCKWOOD SCHOOL DISTRICT 26
Teresa has been an educator for over 25 years. She holds a Master’s in Educational Technology with an emphasis in Online Instruction from Montana State University as well as a certificate in School Library Media from the University of Washington. Over the years she has served in many capacities at the state and local level. Highlights include being the Vice Chair of the Certification Standards and Practices Advisory Council to the Montana Board of Public Education, a member of the School Leadership Team and Chair of the Professional Development Committee for her school district, and a member of the Montana Library Association board. She loves learning and enjoys helping others!
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