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Diary of a First Year Teacher

Joseph Herr
Barbara Zielinski

Diary of a First Year Teacher

Joseph Herr

Joseph Herr

Joseph Herr is a kindergarten teacher at Claremont Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia. He has a B.A. in history from the University of Rochester, and an Ed.M. in elementary education from Nazareth College.

April 2004

Joseph's Educational Philosophy

Teaching and entertaining have a lot in common. Both of these professions require an attentive and happy audience. If you fail to please your audience, then you might get tomatoes thrown at you, just like that famous Muppet character, Fozzie Bear. But, hey! If Fozzie Bear can keep on going, so can you, first year teacher!

A teacher must be a good entertainer to be sure that the "audience," the students, experience the joy of learning and become life-long learners. Learning must be fun and enjoyable for everyone. Similar to actors and actresses, teachers must be creative, flexible, and proficient in using a variety of props to get their message across. These "props" might include read aloud books, visual aids, auditory tools, intrapersonal journals, musical instruments, kinesthetic paraphernalia, and interpersonal activities. The challenge is to find a balance, but it can be done.

It is important to create an environment in which students feel safe. Students work better and achieve more when they know that the teacher will not criticize them for every mistake that is made. We all make mistakes, as first year teachers know painfully well. Students need to see that teachers make mistakes, too, and that these mistakes are just little bumps on the path to learning and growing.

Patience and caring are two traits every teacher and parent must have. Children will do things that will test your patience every day. However, patience is required in order to have a good working relationship with your students. Children can grasp when an adult truly cares about them. If your students feel nurtured by you, they will be willing to take risks and be challenged.

In the entertainment industry, there are Oscars and Emmys to commend the ultimate performances of actors and actresses. There are very few awards in teaching, but you strive for the ultimate reward, which is being a part of the growth in your students as learners.

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First Year Teacher was a pilot project of Reading Rockets, which is service of WETA, Washington D.C.'s flagship public television station. Funding for First Year Teacher was provided by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs; The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; and The Overbrook Foundation.

© 2004 WETA