February 19, 2010

Saint Theodora winners offer advice for new teachers

By John Shaughnessy

After nine years of teaching, Laura Williams has this advice for new teachers: “Relax and enjoy the young people that you teach. Listen to your students because they are also teachers. You need to listen to the ‘stories of their lives.’ They teach lessons of perseverance, compassion and forgiveness.”

A religion teacher at St. Barnabas School in Indianapolis, Williams offered the advice as one of the five winners of the archdiocese’s Saint Theodora Excellence in Education Award for 2009-10.

The other four winners shared these tips for new teachers:

The power of prayer

Patrice Payne, resource teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas School in Indianapolis:

  • “Embrace and accept each child in your heart and soul.”
  • “Pray for each of your students by name.”
  • “Pray for yourself that you may be able to show your students their potential.”
  • “Challenge your students to be their best.”

Take advantage of the opportunity

Providence Sister Maureen Fallon, science and math teacher at Providence Cristo Rey High School in Indianapolis:

“Always remember that we have the chance to make a difference in the minds and hearts of students every day.”

Be flexible

Amy Weigel, fourth-grade teacher at St. Louis School in Batesville:

“Every teacher needs to remember that some lessons are going to go exactly as planned and others are going to be revamped to provide optimal student learning. At school, there are so many factors that affect the day, and the best way to be prepared is to be flexible. Schedules change, students have social and academic issues that need to be addressed, and, of course, there are technology glitches that require teachers to test their flexibility.”

Have the passion to teach

Mary Pat O’Connor, science teacher at Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School in Indianapolis:

“Have a passion for teaching. It’s too hard if you don’t like what you are doing. While it is wonderful if the students like you, don’t let that be your goal. The students will respect you if you respect them, and are prepared and willing to help them, succeed. Have fun with your students. Don’t hesitate to try new things.” †

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