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If you've been listening to this podcast for awhile now, you know that I have dedicated this website and my podcast to talking about all of the things that we need to know so we can become fantastic teachers - but that we aren't necessarily taught in university.
And, one of those things that comes up over and over again, whether it be inside my R.E.A.D.Y. for School Academy in conversations among my students, or in our Beginning Teacher Talk Private Facebook Group, is how unprepared so many of us feel when we first graduate from college and then need to set up our own classrooms and teach on our own after completing a four-year degree.
I think it often takes us by surprise when we finally graduate because we've been looking forward to this day for so long and we feel like we have so much more experience. It's a surprise to us that we don’t feel more prepared because we have invested so much time and money and effort into this amazing degree, most of which we really will need and will use in our teaching careers.
However, what I've come to understand over the past two decades of working in the field of education is that the reason we are feeling so overwhelmed when we graduate and the reason that so many of us struggle is because there truly is a gap between what universities are able to do to prepare us and what we actually need to know in order to do this on our own.
It's not the university's fault because there is so much that teachers need to learn before you get to this point. (Almost) all of the courses that you take in university are required courses for a reason. You do need that foundational theoretical knowledge to understand teaching theory. But what we come to realize is that when we graduate we are not prepared the way we need to be.
Probably a lot like you, I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher. I have a little brother named Chris and he learned how to read before he went to school in kindergarten, not because he wanted to necessarily, but because I made it my mission to bring home my little 2nd grade readers and teach him everything that I had learned in school that day in our little backyard playhouse.
We would play school for hours each day because I had decided that it was my job to teach him and to share everything I had learned with him each day. And usually when I share this story, so many of you write back to me and tell me about your experiences of always wanting to be a teacher. Some of you have told me that you used to line up your stuffed animals and teach them in your bedroom, or how you too would teach your younger brothers and sisters. For so many of us, teaching is our calling, and we can’t imagine doing anything else.
But I will never forget the day that I was finally handed the key to my first classroom. I remember walking down that hallway and being so excited that I could barely stand it - all the butterflies and all the excitement and all of the "I cannot wait to do this - to create my own classroom!" All of those feelings we're welling up inside of me.
But then, when I turned that key and walked into that classroom and saw the four bare walls and nothing around me, the overwhelm of what was ahead of me hit me immediately. I realized how much work I had ahead of me and I realized that I essentially felt like I had no idea where to start.
That's typically when new teachers find me. And, that's also when the confusion sets in. Why do I not feel better prepared?
Well, let's talk about it - and what you can do to fill that gap between what you learned in college and what you actually need to know to prepare for your first years of teaching.
I hope that this episode is helpful for you as you start thinking through how to best prepare for the school year (after taking a much-needed break)!
Until next time, remember, just because you're a beginning elementary teacher, there's no need for you to struggle like one.
Dr. Lori Friesen | Beginning Teacher Mentor
Creator of the R.E.A.D.Y. for School Academy, Dr. Lori Friesen has mentored thousands of beginning teachers across the country through her workshops and courses. Host of the popular podcast, Beginning Teacher Talk, and creator of the innovative literacy program for 1st and 2nd grade, Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed, Dr. Lori is dedicated to serving educators and inspiring learners. Learn more at drlorifriesen.com and at howdogshelpkids.com.
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