His first advice is to make sure you concentrate on the lesson you are giving. He talks about how when he was student teaching he was more concerned on how to delivered his message so that he could impress his supervisors. He states that you need to focus more on the students though. I completely agree with this, but this is a hard one. When student teaching, most teachers just want to pass and get through. They are nervous the whole time the are teaching because they are being graded. It is important though to remember WHY you are teaching though. Surely if you teach to the students then you will end up succeeding no matter what.
His next advice is to be flexible in your lesson plans. He says, "No lesson is ever perfect. The lesson you teach and the one you plan are always different." Most teachers, especially first years, try to control everything. If you have control in the classroom then you are doing a good job. This isn't true though. If a student isn't learning your lesson plan a certain way, then change it.
He also says it is important to communicate with students and other teachers.
Being reasonable is another piece of advice. He believes we should not set expectations for our students because we will become disappointed if they fail. He says, "Our job as teachers is to simply pick them up after they fail, dust them off, and encourage them to try again."
Another piece of advice he gives is to not be afraid of technology. A lot of people are scared of using technology, but just try experimenting with it.
Listening to your students is something he recommends as well. It's important to get to know your students. Listening and learning about them will help them see that you care about them.
His last piece of advice is to never stop learning. We need to grow as professionals for our students. Nobody can know everything, but we can learn something everyday.
I then decided to read McClung's What I Learned This Year from 2011. I thought it would interesting to see how it went his third year teaching.
His first lesson he learned is knowing who your boss is. He says that we should always focus on the students and what is best for them, not what is best for the adults you may be trying to please. Students should always be our main focus and not the administration. Although I do agree with this, this sounds easier said than done. If you believe something is best for your students, but the principal disagrees then you might end up losing your job if you go against him or her. When I first read this I immediately thought about Rafe Esquith's book, "There are No Shortcuts." When he was student teaching he believed he was right about letting his students learn from watching a play; the principal disagreed. He ended up becoming angry and having to repeat a semester of student teaching. So yes, I do agree with McClung about how students should be our priority, but I also agree you should pay attention to what the administration wants. You cannot help your students learn if you are fired and have no students.
His second piece of advice is to not expect others to be as excited about change as you are. You have to enjoy your teaching and believe something will work. Do not allow others to stop you from trying something different.
His third piece of advice is to not be afraid of being an outsider. You don't have to fit in with the other teachers, because this is about the students. McClung claims that it is okay to eat lunch with your students and be immature. You don't have to go to the teacher's lounge and fit in with others. It may be hard at first and you may feel alone, but this is about the students.
He then gives his next piece of advice called, "Don't Touch the Keyboard." This basically means not to take over your students' work. If you take over it then they will never learn. You have to have enough patience to let them try on their own. They might fail a few times, but in the end they will succeed. McClung says, "This means that our students will struggle a little bit in the front end but it will help them excel in the end game." This may be something difficult to do because we want to feel like we're helping and letting our students fail while trying something is not ideal. If we do it though then they will really be failing.
McClung's last piece of advice from this school year is to not get too comfortable. It is easy to slip into a routine with teaching and grading papers, especially after teaching for years. However, falling into a routine will only hurt our students. McClung says, "While routines are good in the sense they allow me to be more effective, they can also be bad because they can foster apathy." I agree with this. We need to make sure we change things up some so that we can make sure we do not just fall into routine.
I really enjoyed reading McClung's blog posts. It was great to read something from a new teacher that is trying out different things so I know what might work when I become a new teacher.