How to be a Better Teacher: Advice from Teaching Fellows

The National Teaching Fellows at Citizen Schools are an incredible group of young educators. For some, it is their very first job out of college. For others, it is their first time in front of a classroom. But for all of them, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to teach kids, grow professionally and serve their communities. Our first year Fellows are in the middle of their second semester. In just a few short months they have already learned valuable lessons that are helping them become better teachers, and better professionals. All types of teachers can learn from their words of wisdom…

kid with phone“If I had to sum up what I have learned in the last few months from the Teaching Fellowship in one word, it would be perseverance.  As a Teaching Fellow, you are asked to juggle responsibilities, manage competing deadlines, and face the uncertainties and quickfire challenges of working in urban schools.  Perseverance is what allows us to deal with each day in good humor, and to put in the hours that help drive the growth that we wish to see in our students. Most of all, perseverance is what makes us drive impact with our students, because the big changes we seek are built from the minute and incremental improvements we work so hard for every day.” – Max Milder

“I would not be able to function in this job without the support and encouragement of my team. Finding joy in work has made the past six months a huge blessing.  Whether it’s laughing at the darndest things kids say, or celebrating a long week with a good meal together, I come back to work every day because I want to see my friends, I want to work for my kids’ futures and I know that my team is counting on me to step up to the plate every time. I’ve persevered because, if for nothing else, I owe it to my students, my team and myself.  Reminding myself daily of my responsibility to these three groups is perhaps my greatest lesson of all.” – Robin Baird

“I could create a long list of all the things I have learned as a Teaching Fellow, but the constant thread connecting them all is the need for flexibility. I have learned to be more flexible in the last semester than at any other time in my life. I have had to adapt lessons, challenge prior understandings of education and find ways of connecting to students constantly. This struggle in flexibility has pushed me to see my work, my impact and my purpose differently. In this new found flexible state I feel the push to go deeper into my work, finding new ways of supporting those around me and inherently becoming a stronger educator, slowly but surely!” – Jennifer Walsh

Science-of-Soccer“The lesson that has most resonated with me from my first semester as a Teaching Fellow is the ability to not take misbehavior personally. By this I mean to understand the roots of a certain student’s misbehavior. With this understanding, I have been more effective at maintaining a calm presence in the classroom, which has translated into a much more well behaved classroom. This awareness will help me rationally explain what my expectations are, and what specifically the student is doing that is not in line with those expectations.” – Matt Hillard

“I have learned the value of getting to know each student in my class on a personal level. It has become the ultimate teaching tool to know what motivates my students! Also, communicating with their families allows me a chance to understand their lives outside of school and therefore better understand their behaviors during school. Learning more about each of my students motivates me to keep momentum thriving in my classroom and also inspires me because I know how hard they’re working and how much they might be juggling.” – Elizabeth Black

The National Teaching Fellowship is a challenging, but extremely rewarding job. As young professionals, Teaching Fellows learn to roll with the punches, find joy in their work and understand the importance of connecting with their team and their students. By persevering every day, our Teaching Fellows have changed the lives of thousands of students across the country. Don’t miss the chance to join the Teaching Fellow Class of 2015. The last deadline to apply is April 29th. Apply here today!