Roxanna: How Rookie Teachers Can Avoid October Blues

From Roxanna Elden's NPR interview:

ELDEN: ...And sometimes the changes that you need to make are pretty simple. Like I had - my first year, I taught fourth grade and I had this star chart where, you know, if students were behaving they would be shining stars and if they were misbehaving they would be falling stars.

HEADLEE: Right.

ELDEN: And the main problem with that system - which I spent I can't tell you how many hours setting up - was that there were really only three levels.

HEADLEE: Right.

ELDEN: And when I switched to a system with nine check marks I was able to enforce little misbehaviors in a way that I wasn't before, and just by doing that it helped the behavior improve in my class a lot.

HEADLEE: But for the teachers who were there, new teachers or not, who are experiencing what you call the disillusionment phase as we speak, who are listening to your voice now, what do you say to the teacher crying in his or her car after school today?

ELDEN: First of all, you have to hang in there because you have to know that it's that time of year. And also, it helps to know I think, the great teachers of the future know they're not great yet. They want so badly to be everything that these students need them to be, but at the same time they are very hard on themselves when they fall short.

So if you have those moments where you're wondering - like what I wondered was, you know, how did these teachers get - these kids get stuck with a teacher like me, that can actually be a sign of kind of a point in your growth. It's a low point that it still points in becoming a teacher that you hope to be.

Well said.

1. Know that little changes can improve your classroom climate*

...*if and only if they're the right changes! Our 2nd year graduate students (full-time rookie teachers) describe specific classroom challenges in essay assignments; then they write a plan of what to do; then they get feedback on those plans from our faculty in 30 minute, 1-on-1 meetings.

2. Forgive yourself.

It's football season. If you Google "Quarterbacks need short memories," you get 30 million hits. QBs throw interceptions. But their team needs them to bounce back and lead, with authority and confidence.

Teachers mess up. But you kids need you to bounce back and lead, with authority and confidence.