My Advice to a New Teacher

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2. It’s all about the pencil. It took me far too long to realize this, so I’m telling it to you up front. New teachers often get trapped in a struggle with kids over supplies: where they are, why they didn’t bring them to class, losing them, borrowing them. It’s exhausting and it often keeps you from doing what you need to be doing. In our zeal to teach readiness and responsibility we mistakenly make having supplies a hill we choose to fight for and die on. Stubborn teachers do and kids suffer.

I once worked with an incredible social studies teacher named Karen whom I observed frequently. I watched her quickly lend supplies to any kid who was without during her lessons. I asked her about it later and she said, “I simply have too much to do with kids to get bogged down by supplies. I won’t let anything get between my kids’ learning and what I have to teach them each day. You shouldn’t either.” I have incorporated that theory into every decision I make and you should, too.

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