Becoming a teacher is a rewarding experience, but no one ever said that it would be easy. In fact, what makes teaching so difficult is that you have no idea what the students will present to you until you’re in front of them. You can make the job a little easier through setting realistic goals for each classroom, along with taking care not to take things personally. Teaching is your profession, but it’s not your entire life. You don’t have to beat yourself up if things start going sour.
What does it really mean to set realistic goals? Well, the first thing is to get a good picture of your students as a group. Are you teaching high school? In that case, it would be wise to brush up on how teenagers learn and process information. This is a time of transition for many young people. They’re thinking about postsecondary education, their careers, their lives. There is a lot of focus on hope sand dreams being fulfilled, as well as a fear that nothing good will ever come their way. As the teacher, you’re going to be in charge of not only their studies, but also their moods. You can’t change someone’s mood if they refuse to let you, but you can be a positive role model. You can model good academics but sharing what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and how it impacts your life.
If you’re in a collegiate setting, you need to look at whether you’re dealing with newcomers to collegiate-level learning, or more advanced students. For newcomers, it is important to set up the structure of study in a way that is accessible to them. While they will have more freedom than ever before, they will also have more responsibility. Make it clear to them that they must become the masters of their own educational path. They will have to motivate themselves to study and to focus, because no one will be there to remind them of these items.
CME standards are evolving and changing, but that doesn’t mean that other areas of education should be ignored completely. The more that you put into the classroom, the more you will eventually get out of it.