Getting the Most from Teacher’s Institute

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So you’ve committed to teaching school, and you’re headed off to Teacher’s Institute. Or you’ve been teaching for several years and are going back to it again this Fall. Maybe you’ve been teaching more than ten years, and you’ve been at many teacher meetings and sat in many classes. Whatever your experience is, you can benefit from attending a teachers’ meeting.
Many of our teacher’s meetings have topics for school board members. Board members can benefit from attending and can also show their support for their teachers. One can get useful insights into school life by attending classes intended mostly for teachers. You might be surprised how challenging teaching can be.
Teaching is a large task with many different facets of responsibilities. Sometimes it’s hard to even know where to start in preparation for the coming year. Is it preparing a theme for my classroom and decorations? Or is it in bulletin boards and job charts? What about classroom structure, planned procedures, a schedule, and rules? What about the books I must teach? All of this can swirl through a teacher’s mind and perhaps overwhelm them.
Attending teacher’s meetings is one good place to start to sort this out. Yes, it takes time out of a busy summer to attend, but it will pay off in the coming year. There are several good places one can go but do go and get all you can. Plan to attend classes that directly relate to your grades. But remember much can be learned from sitting in on classes for other grade levels too. So don’t skip out just because the program feels like it doesn’t have something specifically for you. Remember also that we need reminders about teaching good character, shaping children’s spiritual lives, considering the teacher’s influence, etc. And don’t rush off before the program is over. The closing message might be precisely what you need for the coming year. Remember, you will want your students to stay with you to the end of the class too.
Here is one good place to feel what students will feel when they enter your classroom. Place yourself under your instructor and seek to learn and participate. Take notes, collect outlines, and even pick up recordings for later review. Ask the questions that come to your mind. Seek to fully understand what is being shared. If you’re somewhat new to teaching, don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek input. Be careful about promoting too high ideals and unrealistic expectations that you have not proven yet with time and experience. If you are a seasoned teacher, do share your perspectives with the class. You need the energy and charisma of the youth! They need the wisdom and experience of the seasoned! Seasoned teachers can often be challenged to shore up an area on which they have been lax. Novice teachers do appreciate when veteran teachers take an interest in them and their teaching. Answer their questions and share from your experience. And do welcome questions through the coming school year.
Another value of attending teacher’s meetings is the connection we make with other teachers. Friendship with other teachers who are teaching similar classes and grades is a year-long priceless help. So take time to make those connections and exchange information. Do remember that these friendships, in turn, will influence your life and our schools. We should consider carefully where we go and with whom we connect. There are a variety of school meetings available to attend. And generally, teachers attending those meetings come from a variety of church groups. We will learn the values of those we associate closely with.
Teacher’s meetings are an excellent place to collect ideas for art projects, bulletin boards, job charts, etc. Make photocopies of things you think you could use, take pictures of displays, and take notes of books that contain ideas and teacher’s helps. Remember, midway through the year you may wish for things you saw at these meetings and failed to secure for yourself.
If you have never taught before, you might find teacher’s meetings a bit overwhelming. Obviously, we talk about the best classroom experience, the right way to teach, and the correct responses to the many challenges. Then there is the information overload that can happen when you spend several days focused on this teaching work. You may find yourself asking, “What did I ever promise to do? I can never measure up to all this.” Please don’t fret about it. Know before you go that this will be a part of the experience. Learn what you can. Trust God for His help and strength. Get your rest, so you’re refreshed each day. Take one day at a time. God doesn’t ask us to copy others. He asks us to do our best by His grace.
And remember that when you come back next year, more will make sense to you. You will comprehend more of what is being talked about. You will be able to absorb more. So do plan to teach at least several years and plan to keep coming back to these meetings.
May God bless you as you prepare for this important work. The church is counting on you. The families are entrusting you with their children. You are about to shape the future of the children you teach. And God smiles on you and will reward you richly with wages that are out of this world!