Connecting with Students: Advice from Fifth Year Teacher Rafael Huerta

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Rafael Huerta, ESL specialist, UTA Teacher Certification Graduate, and fifth year teacher shares advice about connecting with students, goal setting, and more!

“Every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be.”-Rita Pierson

Here we go! Are you ready? You chose this job or like me this job chose you. I am going to give you 5 tips to help you not only survive your first year as a teacher but to excel and be a champion!

Tip #1- Build positive relationships.

Establish a professional and positive relationship with your students. Rita Pierson said, “If a student doesn’t like you, they won’t work for you.” I believe this to be very true. Would you work for someone you don’t like? Chances are you wouldn’t. You will more than likely be on a teaching team so you should also work on building a positive and professional relationship with your coworkers. These are the people you will be working with for 8 or more hours Monday through Friday. Also, your coworkers will be your biggest sources of help, knowledge, and wisdom on your first year of teaching. It is important that you get to know them. Treat all your coworkers with tons of respect this includes custodians and cafeteria workers.

Tip #2- Set small goals.

Sun Tzu stated, “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” Start the school year setting small goals, these small goals should be your own personal and professional goals. Accomplishing these small and attainable goals will help build your confidence and momentum throughout the school year.

Tip #3- Keep it simple.

Basically don’t try to do super cool artsy things you see on Pinterest. Trust me, this is your first year you will not have enough time to do all that. Know what you need to teach and teach it using what you got.

Tip #4- You have personal days and sick days, use them as needed.

A former leader/administrator once told me that her biggest regret was not using her personal days and sick days like she should have. If you are feeling sick do not be afraid to call in. Do not be that teacher that looks like a zombie at school. Take the sick day, your body will thank you for it. Use your personal days to take care of your personal business. There will be times when you will want to take off for a special event, a family emergency, or just for your own mental health. Do not hesitate to use your personal days as needed.

Tip #5 Weekends are made for fun and/or relaxation.

Whatever you do, do not take your work home with you on the weekends! This will become a habit and ruin the little free time you have for yourself, family, and friends. Make it a point to finish all your work like grading papers and lesson plans, at work! You have Monday through Friday to do what you have to do, so make sure you do it so you can enjoy your weekends. This might mean you have to stay late after school during the weekdays but trust me it will be worth it. Enjoy your weekends you deserve to, so do something that you makes you happy.

This is my 5th year as teacher and these tips help me excel every year as a teacher because they keep me focused, centered, and motivated. I hope these tips help you and inspire you during your first year of teaching! Good luck!

What advice from Rafael resonates with you? What are some of your teaching goals? Feel free to leave comments below! ~Dr. Peggy Semingson, UTA New Teacher Blog Facilitator

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