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Category: Teaching and Instruction
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Students have many interests outside of the classroom. Many want to be involved in sports, arts and performance groups to help hone their skills. In order to get clubs off the ground, students with a particular interest usually need to find a teacher sponsor. These sponsors agree to host the club, be a responsible adult for club meetings and support the growth and development of club members.

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By Stacy Rucker and Lindy Guadiano

To all newly minted teachers: CONGRATULATIONS!!! The final semester and student-teaching experiences have come to an end. Commencement celebrations have concluded, and the signed teaching contracts have been finalized. So, now what? What is most anxiety-inducing to the novice teacher is the unknown. Questions are screaming out of your head: Will I be prepared? How will I set up my classroom? What will the first day of school look like? Will the students like me? Will the other teachers like me?

These questions are not exclusive to one teacher, and they could overwhelm most new teachers when they prepare to enter the classroom. However, by remembering these four rules, you can allay the first day of school jitters of teaching in your classroom.

Rule One

You are a star to your students and their fresh minds. They look to you as a leader and a gem and someone who is in control. They will not see your fears and worries. All they see is someone to look up to for the next year and the provider of fun learning experiences. Smile and welcome students with open arms.

Rule Two

Classrooms are a sensation to learners. They enter through the doors anticipating the excitement of what they will be learning and doing. Design this space with this in mind. Placements of bulletin boards, nametags, cubbies or the reading corner will not matter to your students. Give them a place that is safe, motivating and creative. Allow them to grow in their social, emotional and cognitive skills with the support of the classroom community.

Rule Three

Anyone can make it through a day. Just be prepared. Teaching is a sprint and not a marathon, much like other new experiences in life. You do not need to plan for the last day of school. You need to plan for each day knowing the classroom is productive, safe and engaging. Show students compassion, energy, empathy and kindness. Let them see there is no other place to be but right there in the classroom with their peers. Make them feel equally important and independent. They will be forever grateful for this lesson and foundation.

Rule Four

Finally everything you need to know you already know. You have spent countless hours in classrooms practicing for this moment. You have celebrated your accomplishments and jumped over hurdles. You have anticipated this moment for the last few years. You are prepared, and you are ready! Smile, love and most importantly teach.

Stacy Rucker received her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and her two Master’s degrees in Early Childhood Education and Organizational Growth and Leadership. She is certified in Early Childhood Education and is a K-12 Reading Specialist. She spent 10 years teaching in pre-k through third grade classrooms in the public school setting. She is currently the Assistant Director of education programs, teaching in the higher education classroom environment, and working toward earning a PhD in Cognition and Instruction.

Lindy Gaudiano received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an Emphasis in Elementary Education Reading.  She is certified in Elementary Education and is an Elementary Reading Specialist. She spent time teaching in a first grade classroom in the public school setting before transitioning to Higher Education. She is currently Director of Education Programs, teaching in the higher education classroom environment, and working toward earning a PhD in Industrial Organization.

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By Marissa King
Chief of Staff, Teaching & Leading Initiative of Oklahoma

And Emily Pottinger
Faculty Chair, College of Education at Grand Canyon University

During our first years in the classroom, we watched in awe as veteran teachers transitioned back to school with impressive parent night plans, organized lesson plans and effective procedures for getting things done—some even with fresh summer tans! For newbies, it felt like watching a magic show, teacher style. How did they do it all?

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By Rebecca Reynolds, EdD
Faculty Member, Grand Canyon University

As a teacher I love to see when my students reward themselves intrinsically with self-pride. The kind you see when they smile because they succeeded at accomplishing a learning goal or project. This intrinsic self-pride encourages students to keep working hard and is inspirational to others. As teachers we have the unspoken job requirement of inspiring our students to find their own intrinsic self-pride. Self-pride is a learned behavior. I help my students recognize when they have done an outstanding job, and when they have led learning amongst their peers.

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Students ought to be engaged in their courses. If they are not participating, teaching can become twice as difficult as it needs to be. Encouraging students to speak in class is often an instructor’s most difficult challenge.  Students that take an active role in classroom discussion take interest in the course material, and speaking to an audience prepares students for their academic and professional lives as speakers, thinkers and listeners.

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English class wouldn’t be the same without a lesson on Shakespeare. And in fact, the new Common Core standards require students to study the Bard. There’s no question that Shakespeare was a genius who deserves to be studied, but it’s definitely challenging to teach such inaccessible writing to students who may not even like to read at all. But never fear—as an aspiring English teacher, you can put modern curriculum ideas to work for you. Try these effective strategies to liven up Shakespeare for your students.

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Aspiring educators who have an adventurous spirit and an enduring desire to reach out to others might consider teaching abroad. Before you make a decision, consider what comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “teaching abroad.” Do you picture yourself leading South African girls in a singing activity? Do you see yourself teaching a large high school class in Japan or South Korea? If you decide to teach abroad, look for an opportunity that corresponds closely with your mental picture. You’ll be more satisfied with the overall experience if you’re immersed in a culture that you’re genuinely interested in.

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By Kennedy Lane
Professional Writing Major, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

As a new teacher it is critical to establish an environment that is conducive to learning. There will be times when students exhibit challenging behaviors, and it is important to know how to handle those situations when they arise. Here are some ways to handle those situations.

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By Dr. Stephanie Knight
Faculty, College of Education

While driving my Kindergartener to school, I’m flooded with questions. No, I’m not analyzing life’s deepest thoughts at the moment, but rather, my daughter has her curious hat on, and she’s wondering about the concept of termites today. Yesterday, it was what is gluten and do nuts have it in them.

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