Welcome to this edition of #firstyearteacherme! We are collecting words of wisdom from NCCE friends, trainers, and staff to share with early career teachers and other educational professionals through our blog. Experience brings understanding, and we know that if we could do it all over again, we would all approach things in a bit of a different way.  This time, we’re chatting with Maria Turner, NCCE’s Coordinator of Professional Development.

Maria Then and Now

Maria then: “I started out teaching 2nd grade.  Fifth grade is what I wanted and where I spent most of my teaching career, but at the school I wanted to teach, 2nd grade was the only opening.  I taught/survived two years teaching second grade and then moved up to fifth grade.  Fifth graders were my people.  That was 30 years ago!”

Maria now:  “Now I have the pleasure of working with trainers and teachers, making an impact on students of all ages and in all subject areas as a Coordinator of Professional Development for NCCE.   My role is to help NCCE trainers in any way I possibly can.  In addition, I continue to work with teachers and administrators through a variety of trainings.”

What I Really Wish I Had Known Early On

Enjoy every second!  So often this advice is given to a parent, but it is true for a teacher too.  There are so many things coming at educators each and every day of the school year.  A new test, a new curriculum, a different pedagogy, additional paperwork.  These demands can pile up and begin to eat away at the joy of teaching.  We must be planners as teachers, but we also need to be in the moment with our students.  If we want students to love learning, we need to show them how much we love sharing that learning.”

Maria’s Top 3 Pieces of Advice For First-Year Teachers

  1. Do something every week that reminds you why you wanted to be a teacher. There will be days when you question why you selected this profession.  Do something that will remind you.
  2. See all those experienced teachers around you, who you think have it all together?  They started just where you are at.  Don’t be intimidated by them, instead ask them questions, share ideas with them.  Teachers want their students to succeed and their peers too.  Reach out to them and trust them, many would love to learn from you, too.
  3. You are the teacher.  All those faces that are looking towards you, some with challenging looks, want a teacher who is in charge, respectful, and a champion.  Even when they treat you with little respect, respect them.  When they try to challenge your authority, continue to lead with compassion and understanding.  Acknowledge their efforts and challenge them to do more.  You are the teacher, leader, champion and cheerleader.  For some students, this will be the first time they have been treated with respect.  For some, it will be the first time they have had a leader to look up to.  For some, you will be the first person to cheer for them and champion their causes.  Be the teacher they will always remember.


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