Monthly Archives: November 2014

Advice to New Teachers: You Can’t “Touch” Every Student

Last week, as we approached the end of the trimester, Jacob came to me dejected. He was frustrated at his lack of success in his first trimester of teaching. Too many students seemed to be falling short of his goals for them. Too many of his goals were not met. I tried to console him.

As a new teacher you cannot be too hard on yourself. Your frustration at not “getting to” all your students shows that you have very high standards for yourself. That’s good. However, do not take it too far. You are not going to touch all your students. Rather, you should strive to have a positive effect on some, perhaps most, of your students.

The superior students will grasp the concepts and material easily and reinforce your worth. There will also be students who are simply not interested in your course. (Jacob teaches a required course at our school.) Try to identify and focus your energy on those students who wish to learn and with whom you believe you may have a genuinely positive impact–a genuine “delta” of improvement. Nurture these students as best you can in class but also in one-on-one sessions on the margins of the formal classes–the few minutes before and after classes, and during extra help sessions.

If you focus on your impact with these motivated and interested students, you will feel a genuine and justified sense of accomplishment at the end of the trimester.

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