Wait, You’re Not The Best?

Your first parent night as an educator.  Man, was that a night to remember.  You spent all day practicing your welcome message to parents, decorating the bulletin boards, and trying not to get anything on your newly bought dress pants.  The day seems to fly by and next thing you know you’re standing outside your door welcoming parents.  One after another, parents file into your room anxiously awaiting to hear how you are going to prepare little Johnny for his future as a world-renowned doctor or help miss Suzy become the next President of the United States.  It is at this precise moment that you realize that your students’ parents don’t care that your a first-year educator fresh out of college.  All they care about is that you are the best 2nd, 6th, or 11th-grade teacher in the school and have all the tools to prepare their students.  That’s right, you’re a first-year teacher with the expectation of being a thirty-year veteran.

This is the reality of education.  Parents don’t care about your educational background or that you are fresh out of college.  All they care about is that you are going to be the best teacher for their student.  Now take a second to think about that.  Educators who have the most important job in the world, with so much at stake, are expected to be the very best from day one.  And we can certainly argue that this expectation isn’t a norm for most professions.  No one expects resident doctors, apprentice electricians, or novice pilots to be the best from day one.  Expertise in these professions happen after years of learning from the best, but teachers don’t have that luxury.

So with this daunting reality, here are three things that an educator can do to ensure that they are striving to be the very best for their students from day one:

  • Find the Best
  • The 3 R’s
  • Be Open to Feedback

Find the Best

If you want to know what the best for students looks like, seek out the best teacher in your school.  Immediately find out who that teacher is in the school and latch onto them.  By simply working with them you will immediately improve your practice.  Remember, the only way to truly become the best is to learn from the best.

The 3 R’s

Read.  Read.  Read.  To become the best you need to immerse yourself in education specific literature.  As an educator, the worse thing you can do is pretend that your four-year college provided you with everything you need to know to be successful in the classroom.  Ask your colleagues for a recommended book, blog, or magazine and set aside at least 10 minutes every day to read. Next thing you know you’ll begin to have all the answers a veteran teacher has.

Be Hungry For Feedback

Ironically, the best teacher in the school doesn’t think of themselves as the best educator. They are constantly searching for ways to improve and regularly seek out feedback that will take their instruction from exceptional to phenomenal. It is this hunger and willingness to learn that qualifies them as being the best. A new teacher may not be the best from day one, but by simply soliciting feedback from teachers, administrators, and specialist they can quickly become one of the best teachers.

The expectations parents have for their student’s teacher can be overwhelming, but can we really blame them. Would we not want the best for our children? So instead of worrying about if you have what it takes to be the best, just start doing what the best teachers are already doing. The best teachers in your school have a go-to person that they consider the best, they are reading anything and everything they can get their hands on, and they are hungry for feedback that will help them become better. Focusing your efforts on these three strategies will prepare you to be the best for every one of your students. Oh, and their parents.

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