Education seems to be a constantly changing landscape. State mandates, federal mandates, new administrators, new schedules, new students - all of this adds up to a teaching atmosphere that sometimes can feel outside of our control. But there are many aspects of our teaching that we can control and many skills that can help us succeed in this ever-changing role that we call teaching.Here are some must-have skills to succeed as a modern educator:
- Get Connected. Don’t try to do this job in isolation. Make sure you are connected to your colleagues - both in your building and around the world. Use Personal Learning Networks (PLNs), Twitter hashtags and Facebook groups to stay connected with people in your profession. Find people who think the same way you do and people who think differently. Find teachers who encourage and inspire you and remind you why you keep doing this crazy job.
- Use Technology. As teachers we are forced to use technology to some extent, but use it to your benefit. When possible, use it to make tasks like grading assignments and papers easier. If you don’t have to worry about eye fatigue from looking at a screen, make your classroom paperless so you don’t have to carry assignments around with you. Use social media to stay informed and to help keep your parents and students informed. If you want to learn more about a newer technology, don’t be afraid to ask your students for help. You might be surprised what both of you learn!
- Keep Learning. Most of us have a love of learning. It is why we started teaching in the first place - so we could share that love with the people around us. Don’t forget what it is like to be a student. Take a class and remember what it is like to have the pressures and demands of producing the assignment rather than giving it. Pay attention to how you are being taught and use your knowledge to help make your own classroom and teaching style better.
- Stay Positive. Teaching is hard. Especially right now with educator effectiveness and artifacts and budget cuts and whatever else you are facing in your school, department or classroom. Keep a good attitude and try to stay away from the people who will constantly remind you how bad everything is. Focus on the students you are serving and the growth you are seeing in them. Take a few minutes at the end of the each day to write down a few positive things that happened.
- Do What You Love. A good way to stay positive is to put as much time and energy as possible into doing what you love. Keep your energy focused on teaching and working with students. Remind yourself how good you are at inspiring students and seeing them light up when they get a new concept or idea. If your schedule allows, tutor after school or coach a team or be an advisor. Seeing your students as people who need your guidance and attention will remind you that teaching is still your first love - despite the crazy climate that it has become.