I recently read an article by Jonathan J. Doll, a PhD level teacher, about his experience in the classroom. This article was actually a confession (Confession of an Ineffective Teacher, Huffington Post 10/7/2015) that he felt that he was ineffective as a teacher early in his career. His journey is not unusual. In fact he talks about his observation that so many teachers struggle and face hardship in the first five years of their teaching career and how too many promising teachers give up on the profession.
Dr. Doll credits his transition from those early days of being a self-assessed ineffective teacher to becoming a master teacher to the help he received along the way from some of the principals he worked for. He also offers the following tips to other teachers on that journey:
Find mentors from among the best teachers in your community.
Record your lessons. This is about doing an honest assessment of your performance in the classroom. You need to know what you are doing to change it.
Garner feedback from colleagues and your students.
Maintain a journal. This can help you see your progress over time.
Take responsibility for your success of failure in the classroom. You cannot get better unless you take responsibility for your performance.
Dream big. Set your personal and professional goals high.
Take responsibility for your own professional development. Work on your weaknesses as a teacher.
It is also interesting that he talks about the importance of classroom management skills. He references both Harry Wong’s book “The First Day of School “ and “Preventing Classroom Discipline Problems “ by Dr. Howard Seaman as essential to his transition to becoming a better teacher. This goes to my message that the first step to becoming an effective teacher is mastering your classroom. To be an effective teacher you must first prepare your classroom and your students to be taught.