After student teaching at a public school, I found I fit better into teaching at private schools, so over the last seven years I have worked at five different private schools; two Catholic schools and three private Christian schools — one international, one urban, and one suburban. Private schools have a different culture than public school that that takes time to learn.
Have you started teaching at a private school? Want some tips on how to transition even more strongly into that school’s culture? Here you go:
–Realize that you are in a new culture, and what you did during student teaching or at your last position might not work. My first job after student teaching (which was large classroom teaching with 25-28 students) was at a small school in Costa Rica with classes of 6-15 students; I didn’t know that large and small class teaching were different, so I learned it the hard way of trying my large classroom methods on the small classes. Some of those methods weren’t necessary and didn’t help me connect with the students.
–Try to embrace the new culture by connecting professionally and personally with the students and their families. If a lot of the students are into sports, try to go to some of their games. I didn’t do this during my last teaching job, and I wished I had because getting a personal connection with students as fast as possible helps with classroom management.
–Be who YOU are, even if you are a different type of teacher than the students are used to. The Catholic school cultures I’ve been part of have teachers who are loud, who shout when they mean something, and the kids are used to that. I came into my last school as a quieter teacher who wouldn’t hardly yell at them, and I would just give the students consequences. My way took a lot of energy and students received many negative consequences, but they did listen overall. I learned that in large Catholic school classes there is a method of scaring the students into submission by quickly punishing the whole class if one or two students choose to act out; I didn’t do this, but if I teach in a Catholic school again, I might do it. After the whole class receives the harsh consequence, then they push each other to not act out again. I tried the opposite way: punish the individual, and that took more time and energy. Looking back, I’m glad I did it the way I did, but I see the efficiency of the other way because it made the class as a group “afraid” of disobeying the teacher. I’m happy I introduced those students to a non-yelling teacher because as they move through school and into the workforce, they will have all sorts of teachers and bosses, and some of the best bosses never yell.
–Realize that entering into and being accepted by a new culture just takes time. Building relationships takes trust, and if the students have had many teachers come and go, it takes them a long time to trust and connect with you. If you are consistent, you eventually will connect with at least some of the students; especially with junior high students, they might not let you know they appreciated your teaching until after you leave. For example, the eighth grade class I had last year took so much energy—especially the guys—and who are following me on Instagram now that they are in high school? Some of the guys that I gave consequences to the most! You never know how you influence the students you are given—just know that you are, and never give up on them.
Here’s some of the love I received at the end of the school year–for me and baby:
P.S. Thank you for stopping by! I insert affiliate links, such as Amazon, into my posts to share interesting books and products. If you buy something or start a registry, I receive income, for which I am thankful. So…
— shop on Amazon
–shop at my Etsy photo card/notecard/art shop: Trees of Transition Art & Design
–keep on reading this blog.
Thank you again, and peace to you and your family!