Dear Future Self,
Hopefully you’ll read this and be thankful for these small reminders -- the little things you knew you despised as a student. Since you’re already a teacher, I’m sure you may have already forgotten certain pet peeves you had that you promised never to do yourself once you started teaching.
To start off, I hope to God you’re not that teacher who only calls on students who are not raising their hands. Nobody likes being unexpectedly called on and embarrassed in front of the whole class. Also, if someone has an 89.89 average, please tell me you’re going to round that up without hesitation. You know there is going to be that one student who will email you until you round it up anyway, so you might as well be one step ahead of the game.
And when the bell rings, don’t hold back your class from rushing off to lunch. They want to eat, you want to eat; let's make everyone happy here. Speaking of the end of class, don’t stare angrily at your students if they pack up a few minutes early. Although you may be a lovely teacher, everyone has places to be.
On the first day of school, don’t force everyone to go around the room saying their name, grade and a sport they play. This only increases social anxiety (I know from experience, since I have always been athletically challenged).
More importantly, when you aren’t in school and there is a substitute, never assign book work. Just let the class watch "Nemo" and catch up on work the next class. Also, when your class is in a good mood on a Friday afternoon, don’t kill it by assigning homework due Monday. Because not only are your students going to strongly dislike you, they probably won’t even do it. Basically anything due on a Monday is a bad idea; leave tests and quizzes for another day.
Let kids eat in class; a little Goldfish never killed anyone. Drinks other than water are fine too; everyone needs their coffee. There’s nothing worse than those teachers who eat snacks in the middle of their class and yet do not allow you to have anything but a bottle of water on your desk.
But if you are going to take anything from this letter, take this: Always talk to your students; do not talk at them. Listen to the ideas they have, even if they differ from yours. Classes spent where everyone talks about what they did over break are not wasted, but time well spent. Keep in mind your class is not the only class your students are taking; don’t bombard them with work. But challenge them.
Constantly remind them how their mistakes aren’t permanent and only build character. Never forget to write feedback on each and every paper you have to grade, regardless of how tired you are. Give constructive criticism, but never stop encouraging them. Lastly, thank your students. Because although your job is to positively change their lives, they are the ones who are endlessly changing you. Best of luck.