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May 13, 2023

What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Teacher

(Words of wisdom from the teachers at iteach)

This article was originally published by our partners at iteach, a part of our parent company K12 Coalition, on July 22, 2022.

Many of our staff members are former teachers. Their years of experience in the classroom have provided so much insight as they work to prepare new teachers for success. For a brand-new teacher, it is difficult to know what to expect going into that first year. There are so many things you just learn from mistakes and failures along the way. We can all benefit from the insight of someone who has walked the road ahead of us to guide us as we are venturing out on a new journey. We asked around the office to find out if the expectations going into teaching were different from reality and what information would have been helpful to know when they were first starting out. We posed the question, “What is something you wish you knew before becoming a teacher?” Here is what our staff had to say…

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I can think of times that I was in a bind and thought it was my own personal problem, but then so many people would step in to help me – other teachers, the principal, the librarian, even the school nurse. If I had just asked for help from the beginning, things would have been easier.

Kelvin Bonneau

Kelvin is the State Coordinator for iteachLOUISIANA. Before joining the iteach team, he taught 7th grade English and Media for 5 years.

Every great teacher is a great student.

If you think you know everything, you are one smart aleck junior and his Mac Book Google search away from being made a fool. Be a learner with the kids. You are not a sage on the stage, you are on the journey with them. They actually enjoy those moments when they can teach you something. One of my favorite quotes I heard from a professor at Colombia’s Teacher’s College was, “Whoever is doing the talking, is doing the learning.”

Kimberly Thaggard, Ph.D.

Dr. Thaggard taught AP/IB History for 10 years, served as the International Baccalaureate Coordinator for 3 years, and was in administration for 5 years. She has been an educator for 18 years total. She is now the Western Region Program Director for iteach.

Use your available resources.

You do not have to reinvent the wheel for everything you do in the classroom. We live in a YouTube society, so use YouTube and online resources to your advantage.

Try anything and everything.

If you think something is awesome and you want to try it, go for it! Or if you see something that someone else is doing, don’t hesitate to utilize it. If it’s great for their kids, it’s probably great for your students too.

Jamason Fowler, M.Ed.

Jamason taught 1st grade for 10 years before joining iteach as the Program Director for Tennesse.

Dare to be great.

You are new, and you have fresh perspective and positivity that just might be the difference your colleagues and students need. So, be a confident team player. You’ve got this!

Be a positive comment in the car or at the dinner table.

Send parents a note saying how excited you are to be their kid’s teacher. Tell them how you can’t wait to partner with them for their child’s success.

Act purposefully to keep things in balance.

For every ‘constructive’ email or call you send home, call or send at least one ‘praise’.

Write your purpose visionary statement on paper and display it on your desk.

Why did you become a teacher? Reading this statement will encourage you through the tough days.

Amy Anderson, Ph.D.

Dr. Anderson is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for iteach. Prior to her role here, she taught 8th Grade Math and Algebra 1 for 10 years.

You don’t have to be perfect.

Kids will learn even if you are not.

Be flexible.

You will need this probably every single day.

Meredith Sherwood

Meredith was an elementary art teacher for 6 years and taught 2nd grade for 5 years before joining the iteach team as our Payments Coordinator.

Find a teacher buddy in your hall.

They can help with everything from how to set up your curriculum and grades to where to find the copier.

Stephanie McLeod, M.Ed.

Stephanie spent 22 glorious years with middle schoolers, 12 teaching and 10 in administration. She is now the Program Director for iteachTEXAS.

For more insight, check out this video from Hailey Katelyn, a first year kindergarten teacher, on what she wished she knew as she reflects back on her first year teaching.

About iteach

iteach is a competency-based educator preparation program helping to fill the void the nation faces with the unprecedented teacher shortage. iteach enables paraprofessionals, substitute teachers, and others seeking to become teachers to get the affordable, time-saving education they need to become licensed. Their program combines the convenience of online learning with a full year of face-to-face mentorship during a teaching residency. Notably, iteach is the only non-university educator preparation program to achieve accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).


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