Week 3

I'd like to share some wise advice that comes from my now three week long teaching career.

  1. Don't post homework early. I print off my PowerPoint as handouts for my students to take notes on. The last slide has their homework assignment on it. I soon realized that some people will ignore the lesson to do their work in class, even though I only assign 4 problems. I know Harry Wong and other education gods recommend posting your assignment in the same place every day so students know what to expect. I do warm up exercises at the beginning of every class and it's set up so that students see it on the Smart Board as soon as they come in to class. I think what I am going to do with homework is each day write what is due that day so students know what to look for. I'm still not going to put out the homework for that day until class is done.

  2. Don't spend all your money in the summer and have to wait on your first paycheck. It sucks.

  3. Don't spend your whole lunch period in the lounge. Make an appearance, enjoy your lunch, then make a quick exit. The longer you stay, the more negative it gets. And some people are just weird. Give yourself a few minutes alone to get some peace and reset your focus.

  4. Encourage other teachers at every opportunity. As a new teacher, I had one day where I was just doubting all of my abilities and feeling totally overwhelmed. It felt good to hear other teachers encourage me. (Even though I wanted direct instruction instead of a pat on the back.) And I think when there are new teachers, people tend to focus on them and forget about the not-so-new and the older teachers. Give as many authentic compliments and niceties as you can. Even a thank you, excuse me, nice shirt, or a yes sir can at least make people feel noticed.

  5. It takes courage to find what works best for you. You need courage to take risks and try something new. You need the courage to admit when those new things don't work out. You need courage to accept the advice of others. You need courage to not be manipulated into doing something that isn't best for your students. It takes courage to keep going day after day when you feel like you have no idea what you're doing. It takes courage to stand in front of people day after day and put your knowledge on display. It takes courage to be set apart, different. It takes courage to teach.
And my last piece of advice can be applied to any person with any job ever:

Dress professionally every day and strive to behave the same.


  1. As a corollary to your last piece of advice:

    It is easy to notice and criticize your colleagues who are clearly not dressed or behaving professionally. It's also difficult to ignore them and not criticize them in front of colleagues and especially students, who are just as savvy as you are and will make their own comments that you have to learn to deflect.

    The only person you should consider talking to is a superior that you respect and trust, someone who you know will take your concern seriously and deal with appropriately (NOT a person who will go to the unprofessional colleague and say, "Ms. Cal.Q.L8 tells me...")

    Otherwise, you really just have to keep your mouth shut and worry about making sure you are professional in every way you can be and how you will set an example. This is an incredibly difficult thing to accept and follow, but it is absolutely critical!

  2. Yes to not hanging out in the lounge. We (my department) usually all eat lunch together in one of our rooms. It makes it look like a department meeting, but really we are just shooting the breeze (sometimes venting). It is a good thing we all like each other.

    Use that Wong advice about teaching procedures. I wish that book was available 22 years ago when I started teaching. Reading that was a revelation to me.

    I don't know how many students you see each day but one thing I try to do is to collect something everyday to stamp to make sure they are on task.

    Work hard and you'll have a blast! Keep posting also. I like reading about people new to the field and how they are doing. It is a great career you've chosen!

    Sources of problems: Here are a couple I've used over the years:



    I just googled "math performance assessment" and this was one of the top hits:


    It looks promising.

    There was a web site out of Queensland AU called SMARD (Secondary Mathematics Assessment and Resource Database). I can't find a working link right now. It was pretty good.

  3. Thanks for the links and your comment, I'll take help anywhere I can get it.

    I would eat lunch with my department but I AM the department. lol

  4. I wish I was half as aware as you are when I was a new teacher. With your willingness (and ability!) to reflect on your work the way you do it will not be long before you are a master.

    These are all good thoughts!