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Welcome to Success! What Every New Teacher Should Know

Over the summer, almost 400 new teachers joined the Success Academy family. Brand-new to the profession or more well seasoned, teachers came from every corner of the country and even other parts of the world. All of them have the same goal: To be the best possible teachers for their scholars.

To help new teachers adjust to their first year here, we asked eight returning teachers to share one piece of advice they wished someone had given them when they started teaching at Success Academy. Here is what they said:

“I am going into my eighth year of teaching at Success Academy, so I’ve learned some important lessons along the way that seem appropriate to share: Laugh every day—kids are hilarious; get to know and love your colleagues—think of them as your new intellectual domestic partners; learn to love feedback—someone is taking the time to help you get better; remember why you became a teacher, especially on those cold winter mornings; lastly, buy some comfortable shoes and enjoy the journey!”
Allysa Axelband, special education teacher at Success Academy Bronx 3

“Teaching is hard. You will very likely struggle, and some lessons (or let’s be real, days) will very likely flop. But don’t flop in silence! Ask for feedback. Reflect on what went well, what didn’t and why. And accept that you won’t become a pro overnight. A little bit of healthy struggle goes a long way to help you grow.”
Mallory Easton, content lead science teacher at Success Academy Cobble Hill

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“It is easy to get overwhelmed and work day and night to prepare for classes. Don’t forget that a work-life balance is a must. Take time every week to do things you love, whether it’s going out to dinner with friends, Bikram yoga, a walk through the park, or dancing in your living room. By making time for yourself, you will be a more energetic, focused teacher who is ready to tackle each and every day!”
Liz Gosselin, content lead dance teacher at Success Academy Harlem East

“Do not let the fear of making mistakes stop you from pushing yourself and your scholars. We will all stumble many times this year but those are the moments that make us stronger teachers.”
Maggie Jones, second grade lead teacher at Success Academy Crown Heights

“Authenticity is key! We have so many excellent teachers in our network, and the ones I know have different teaching styles. But all of them share a common trait: they are genuine and authentic with their students. As you prepare for the new school year, focus on finding your voice and a presence that is most authentic to you. You will struggle to gain buy-in from students, establish authority, build relationships or be engaging if you are trying to be someone you’re not. When in doubt, remember why you became a teacher at Success Academy in the first place and let that passion shine through in your teaching every day!”
— Nick Simmons, leadership resident at Success Academy Harlem Central. He was a seventh grade math teacher last year.

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“When I first started teaching, I didn’t want my scholars to think I was mean. I wanted them to like me. For the most part, it seemed my scholars enjoyed having me as their teacher. Yet, I often struggled to get them to follow directions and invest them in learning. I could not figure out what I was doing wrong until a scholar told me one day that I was being “too nice.” I realized then that my students didn’t need me as their friend; they needed a teacher who demanded 100 percent from them every day. I saw major improvements after I started expecting a lot more from scholars. They were completing their assignments and the quality of their work was much stronger. Most importantly, my scholars were actually learning and genuinely happy to be in school.”
— Jun Yoon, math teacher and debate coach at Success Academy Harlem East

“Always treat every scholar with respect, kindness, and consideration—even during your most frustrating moments. I often think about my own daughter and how I would want her to be spoken to. I speak to my scholars in the same caring way. And if you need a break or support, reach out!”
Geri Seder, pre-kindergarten and blocks teacher at Success Academy Harlem 1

“You are the architect of your own talent. In the most challenging of times, remember you are one of the most influential figures in your scholars’ lives. Let their success be your driver when you feel overwhelmed. Create, question, collaborate, and speak up. Your voice is valued.  Enjoy your first year and welcome to Success Academy. “
Sol Caceres, soccer coach at Success Academy Upper West

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Written by Success Academy August 20, 2015

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