Hello — I am pleased to host CEC’s blog for new teachers for the month of November. I am Jane Humphrey from Kevil, KY. I recently retired from teaching Mild to Moderate students at Heath Middle School in W. Paducah, KY. Learning Disabilities (LD) is my passion and I earned BS and MA degrees in LD from Murray State University. I am also National Board Certified in Mild to Moderate Exceptional Children and Youth, Birth to 21. In addition, I was honored to be named CEC’s National Teacher of the Year in 2003. I have had many wonderful experiences in both my special education classroom and in collaboration classes with my colleagues. I am currently serving as a mentor to National Board Certified Teacher Candidates.
To get started, I have begun to make a list of things I wish people had told me when I first started teaching. I will continue to share this list as the month progresses. My very first recommendation is to ENJOY YOUR STUDENTS! I think that I was so worried about meeting the students’ needs, making sure that I was writing the lesson plans correctly, completing all of the paperwork, and pleasing the administrators that I might have forgotten why I chose to be there. So, every day, PLAN to enjoy your students. Show interest in their lives, their likes, their dislikes, their hobbies, their plans, etc. These things will not only help you understand their background but will better equip you to meet their needs. Your students will begin to bond with you and want to please you because they will sense that you care. And besides, enjoying your work will have a positive effect on both students and colleagues and make the workplace more pleasant for everyone.
I don’t mean to imply that teaching special education is always going to be fun, pleasant, and pie-in-the-sky. In fact, there are many complex issues that will be part of your daily routine. But don’t let them rob you of the joys of teaching. Building that relationship with your students and making sure that both of you are better off for being together that day will make your load — and theirs — so much easier.
Secondly, LOOK FOR HUMOR in difficult situations. This is another way of building that relationship with students. It may allow everyone to let off some steam and loosen up. Again, it may also work with your colleagues. Of course, humor must only be used when appropriate, but it is a great tension reliever. King Solomon advised that “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”
I have lots more to share and will focus my next post on some things you can do for yourselves. I invite your comments and questions and will be happy to respond.
Jane H. Humphrey, NBCT