We asked alumni, friends and faculty to share their advice and words of wisdom to the College of Education’s new alumni who graduated Saturday, May 13. We compiled a list of 10 tips we received and heard.
Invest in duct tape.
“Literally: It is one of the handiest tools ever invented. It will repair torn-out hems, broken sandals/flip flops, holes in britches, folders, binders, and the list goes on. Figuratively: It is amazing for adding extensions to the must-have snorkel for all beginning teachers! Yup! I, too, felt like I had been pushed out of a plane my semester of student teaching. My mentor teacher’s advice for the real deal: ‘Remember to breathe. You’re gonna need a snorkel to do so and you’ll need to keep adding extensions, but you gotta breathe.’ The visual of a snorkel with a mile’s worth of extensions patched together with pretty duct tape always did the trick!”—Elizabeth Chapman ’13
Trust that you are ready.
“You’re going to have kids and students who come into your classroom and ask for your trust. How you hold their hand, rather figuratively or literally, will determine their next steps in life. . . . Trust that you are ready. Trust that you are ready to be that classroom teacher who has the confidence and tools to face any hurdle.” —Michael Clinkscales ’98, ’02, ’12
Respect your elders.
“There are times when ‘old school’ versus ‘new school’ will be front and center. You won’t agree with the ways kids are still being taught and that’s a good thing given the rate at which our world is changing. Even so, there is something to be said for someone who has been teaching for 10, 20, 30, 40 years: They’ve survived multiples changes in administration, staff, pedagogy and trends. More recently, they’re being ‘sent out to pasture’ with little more than a card and pat on the back. Since the odds of making it past one, two, let alone five years, are significantly stacked against us, respect for the profession and for those who have walked the walk needs to happen.”—Elizabeth Chapman ’13
It’s OK to be the new kid on the block.
“There may come a point in your first year of teaching where you are mistaken for a student by a veteran teacher, or even worse your thoughts and ideas are not taken seriously because of your perceived lack of experience. Try not to take it personally, and don’t stop sharing those thoughts and ideas. Veteran and new teachers alike have much to learn from each other. Embrace your newness and use it to your advantage. Try those ideas you spent time developing in college. Use what you learned from your student-teaching experience and soak in everything you see amazing teachers doing around you. Ask questions and take notes! It will only make you stronger and more confident in your ability.”—Katie Robinson
Use your voice.
“Ms. Klarpp, my Latin teacher, taught me much more than how to conjugate verbs and nouns. She made something that seemed so far removed from my life relevant. And she got me to stand up in front of others and speak Latin — something I was very uncomfortable doing. But from that, I learned the importance of using your voice no matter the situation and no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel. Use your voice. That’s something no one can take away from you. And encourage those students who come into your life to use their voices.”—Dean Mary Ann Danowitz
Don’t be too hard on yourself.
“You will make mistakes. You will have really terrible days where you may wonder why you became a teacher. Take comfort in the knowledge that it happens to all of us. Don’t let those days be the dominant highlight reel in your head. Learn from those days and get up the next day with a renewed sense of purpose and passion.”—Katie Robinson
Take a stand.
“When I started teaching online in 2008, in most circles, it was kind of like being country before country was cool. I recall sharing with a former professor that I was teaching law students online. The response was ‘Oh,’ as if ‘And we thought she had such potential.’ It wasn’t many years later though until some of the same folks knocked on my door and said: ‘Hey, tell us about this.’ You may or may not believe in online learning in the way that I do, but I bet you believe in something just as passionately. . . . [T]ake a stand for whatever that passion may be. Even when it’s not in vogue – especially if it’s not in vogue.”—Ellen Murphy ’98, ’14M ED
Revisit your why.
“Your Philosophy of Teaching probably includes this, but you’ll want a much more condensed version. Think something you can easily write on one sticky note. Then make multiple copies and put them everywhere/anywhere you’re likely to see it when you need it the most. Not into bright Post-its and handwriting? Type up your Why as a note in Google Keep and send it to yourself as a reminder with future dates spaced out during the school year. Don’t be afraid to change your why; just be sure you have one.”—Elizabeth Chapman ’13
Don’t abandon hope.
“You are in the field of education, and you are working with some of the most pressing issues facing our society. With that there are and will be challenging, frustrating, and heartbreaking days ahead. There will be days when you say to yourself, “I can’t do this anymore.” When those days come, do not abandon your hope. Think about those special teachers who made a difference in your life. And think about why you have chosen the profession of education. Over the past year, since I became dean, I have heard many of you talk about why you’re going into education. You have said that you want to teach a child to read; that you want to make math more accessible to students; that you want to encourage a girl to become a scientist; that you want to give exceptional learners a place to belong; and that you want to help children and youth realize their potential. Remember these reasons why. And remember the responsibility and opportunity before you.”—Dean Mary Ann Danowitz
Stay connected to the College of Education.
Come back to visit the College of Education at NC State! There’s something about walking the campus, enjoying a scoop of your favorite flavor of Howling Cow, and taking in the current hustle and bustle that brings back that sense of purpose and helps reconnect to the why of #ThinkandDo. Be sure to sign up for the Beginning Teacher Institute for your first three years and never, ever forget:
The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.—Rudyard Kipling