What I Learned My First Year of Teaching
Guest Article by Kari Mosbacker (missmosbacker.wordpress.com)
Well, here we are. Nearly one year since my last blog post.
It’s amazing what you can learn in a year. A year can make you, break you, and change your life. My life has been irreparably changed. I waded into a most familiar, unfamiliar world. Let me explain.
I’ve been encapsulated in the educational sphere my whole life. I grew up with a father who is not only an educator, but a seasoned pro who travels the world consulting and is set to be a keynote speaker on Christian education in China this year. I’ve been behind the scenes for years. I’ve witnessed the triumphs, tragedies, and the occasional and unavoidable politics. I had a pretty good sense of what I was getting myself into.
No amount of insight, knowledge, or preparation could have prepared me for my first year of teaching. I was given a chance. There were people who took a chance on me, and it was something I vowed never to take for granted. It was the hardest year of my life, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I learned more in that year than all of my years combined. I survived it and so can you! Here is a short synopsis of what I learned:
Give it all you have. Everyday. You will mess up (goodness knows I made some mistakes). Learn from them, try to pick yourself back up, and work harder. Preparing lessons, making tests, grading, writing project rubrics, studying your material takes hours upon hours to prepare. Stick with it. Put in effort on the front end and it will pay dividends later.
Be a team player
The most important thing you can do as a teacher is remain teachable. You don’t know it all, so don’t act like you do. To be a good teacher, you have to be a good student. Some days you will want to vent to a colleague (or 7). Choose them carefully. Create bonds, but don’t become known as “The Complainer”. To do this ministry, you have to partake in a gospel-centered community as Christ intended.
Continue your education
Being in a classroom everyday has made me miss college very much. I enjoyed writing papers (most of the time). I enjoyed creating something by hand. I loved creating a thesis from something as simple as a coed’s scrapbook. It was like dreaming on paper. Keep stretching your knowledge of your subject matter. Staying stationary is a recipe for boredom. It’s hard to find the time for this, but do whatever you can. Read a book, watch a TED talk, take a class, get a degree.
Set a “bedtime”. Turn off your email. Sleep until eleven on a Saturday morning if you have to.
Rely on Jesus
This is the most important advice that I can give. You will be tested on this spiritual battlefield. Any weakness you have will be thrown in your face. The enemy will whisper, “You aren’t good enough.” Your only hope of survival is looking at his death. He made your atonement possible. You may fail, but He didn’t. Remind yourself of the gospel everyday. Love others in the best way you can. Anticipate their needs. Know when to seek help from others, whether from a professional counselor, your peers, an accountability partner, your spouse, family, or friends. You can’t do it alone. No one can.
As I embark on my second year, by no means do I have it all figured out. I will make mistakes this year. I will have to ask for forgiveness. I will have to beg the Lord to use me despite my shortcomings and failures, but I will give it my all. Why? Because “Jesus paid it all, so all to Him I owe.”