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How can I make the most of my second and third years of teaching?

As a second or third year teacher, you now have a foundation of experience from which to build more sophisticated understandings of students and learning. Like all teachers, you will revisit certain questions year after year.

Your challenge as a professional educator will be to increase the depth of your understanding and complexity with which you consider those questions. For example, Grossmail, et al. (2000), studied the growth of teachers from their last year of pre-service education through their first three years of teaching. They concluded that:*

The pedagogical tools provided by teacher education, along with a reflective stance toward teaching, provided these teachers with a vision of teaching writing that has stayed with them. In the second year of teaching, concepts and ideas began to resurface in important ways. Tools that seemed superfluous during the difficult first year of teaching suddenly found use as second-year teachers reconstructed their understandings and practice. (660)

As you move from your first year of teaching into your second and third years, your focus will most likely become more and more student-centered. Second year teachers are more likely to focus on issues such as getting students to think critically and meeting the needs of diverse learners. You can use the Assessing the effectiveness of your teaching tool to focus on your areas of strength and weakness.

The New Teacher Center at the University of Santa Cruz publishes the Continuum of Teacher Development that might serve as a helpful reference in reflecting on your development. Their continuum addresses the following teaching standards:

  • Assessing student learning
  • Developing as a professional educator
  • Engaging and supporting all students in learning
  • Creating and maintaining an effective environment for student learning
  • Understanding and organizing subject matter for student learning
  • Planning instruction and designing learning experiences for all students

To view the last four continua, contact the NTC directly or view their products and services online at www.newteachercenter.org.

*Grossmail, P.L., Valencia, S.W., Evans, K., Thompson, C., Martin, S., & Place, N. (2000). Transitions into teaching: Learning to teach writing in teacher education and beyond. Journal of Literacy Research, 32, 631-662