March 4, 2011

Saint Theodora winners offer practical advice for new teachers

By John Shaughnessy

After 15 years as an educator, Patty Mauer offers this advice to new teachers:

“Celebrate the things that go well, but don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I have learned just as much from things that didn’t go well.”

A fourth-grade teacher at St. Patrick School in Terre Haute, Mauer gave the advice as one of the five winners of the archdiocese’s Saint Theodora Excellence in Education Award for 2010-11.

The other four winners shared this advice for new teachers:

Never stop caring

“If a new teacher truly cares—about the students, about their learning, about doing a good job, about making a contribution to the school—he or she will give the gift of zeal,” says Mary Rose Collins, a high school English teacher at Lumen Christi School in Indianapolis.

“The energy and caring you give to this first year will set you on your course for a great profession. Give it all you have, and keep caring. You won’t go wrong.”

Be humble in yourself—and proud of your students

“Talk with students, not at them. Give up being the sage on the stage because students in many ways know more about a subject they are passionate about,” says Marsha Sander, an English teacher at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis. “Teach the idea of sharing knowledge. Admit when you do not know something and then look it up for the next day.

“Implement technology if available. If it’s not available, teach the same skills in some creative, artistic way. Students like to see their work on the wall, whether in an advanced placement class or grade one.”

Keep a balance

“Slow down and teach. You cannot push students to the next level if they aren’t ready. It may backfire on you,” says Lisa Hannon, a first-grade teacher at St. Malachy School in Brownsburg.

“Emotions can interfere with learning. Strike a balance. Have high expectations but know when to pull back a little.”

Expect the unexpected

“You must continue to grow and learn in the field of education,” says Stephany Tucker, a junior high teacher at St. Anthony of Padua School in Clarksville. “Be open to changes and challenges. Always expect the unexpected. And live out the mission of Jesus by living out the Gospel through your teaching and being a good role model.” †

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