First Year Teacher Self-Study Course

First Year Teacher is a self-paced professional development course for novice K-3 teachers, developed by Reading Rockets. The program provides teachers with an in-depth knowledge of reading so they are prepared to guide their students into becoming skilled and enthusiastic readers.

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Diary of a First Year Teacher

Barbara Zielinski

Barbara is a first grade teacher at River Plaza Elementary School in Middletown, NJ. She received her Ed.M. in early childhood and elementary education from Rutgers University.

Barbara's educational philosophy

As William Butler Yeats stated, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." As an elementary school teacher, I will spark the interests of my students so that they have the desire and encouragement to learn. First, children must believe in themselves. Once they develop confidence, they can then take on the world as long as they have the opportunities to do so. I will provide my students with the self-assurance, motivation and opportunities they need to make learning a priority.

Just like students, teachers vary in how they learn and share information. When I think of myself, the words "patient" and "motivated" come to mind. These qualities, I believe, will help me as a teacher. Not all children learn on the same level. Some quickly absorb information while others need it repeated various times. Patience is essential in helping children to learn so that they feel comfortable with the pace that they are learning at. This reassurance will help reinforce positive self-esteem. Also, if educators are not motivated to teach, students will not be motivated to learn! Enthusiasm goes a long way in the classroom, and I will share mine with as many students as I can.

Because not all students learn in the same manner, I will adapt my lessons to reach as many learning styles as I can. To reach kinesthetic learners, I will include various hands-on lessons so they can actively participate in learning. There will be small and whole group discussions so auditory learners can listen and learn from others. Students will also have opportunities to read aloud in class. I will incorporate visuals into lessons so visual learners can excel. Videos, transparencies and models will help the students visualize what they are learning. While I know that I cannot incorporate every learning style into every lesson, using different teaching strategies to reach these learners will help all students learn and stay focused. By using many different teaching methods to adapt to all learning styles, my students will feel positive and academically excel.

It is easy for teachers to go into a classroom and "fill a pail" instead of "light a fire." By understanding my students and how they learn, I can guide them in developing the self-esteem and enthusiasm needed to keep their "yearning for learning" burning throughout the rest of their lives.

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"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase