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New and Future Educators' Blog

By Lisa Neubert

A second-year teacher in Marshall

  • Young teacher rethinks her future

    As a new teacher, it is hard to know exactly how all the craziness in the Wisconsin government will impact me. All I know is the uncertainty is really taking its toll on my calm exterior. 

    I have been a teacher for almost two years. In these two years I have struggled to make bills, while my husband finishes graduate school, but through all the financial worries I knew I was helping students and making a difference in their lives and that has been what mattered the most. 

    Throughout the past two months, I have seen many teachers question why they devote their lives to this profession ... a profession that at this time seems like scapegoat for all the governmental problems. I struggle with many of the same questions that these veteran teachers are asking themselves, but through it all I see my students growing and becoming conscious of ...

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  • Mentor provides invaluable help to new teacher

    By Lisa Neubert

    Last year my school had a mentor program in place for first-year teachers. Although I teach science, I was paired with a veteran English teacher. At first I couldn't find much in common with my mentor since we both taught very different things and I wished I had a mentor in my department who could talk with me about science, labs, and curriculum.

    As the year wore on I realized that my mentor, although not a science nerd like me, was really making an impact on my teaching. She observed my classes, gave me feedback, and even came in to be a subject in some labs. The bond that we formed throughout my first year teaching is something I will never forget.

    My mentor helped me feel confident as a first-year teacher and was invaluable when it came to answering questions about daily routines (whom do you ...

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  • A little 'me time' makes for a better teacher

    By Lisa Neubert

    Last year was my first year teaching high school science and by the time the WEAC Convention rolled around in late October I was EXHAUSTED. I remember thinking, “How am I going to get through a year of this?”

    The teaching itself was getting to be more routine, but the long hours of grading and lesson planning was taking its toll on my mind and body. I was the first car in the parking lot almost every morning and the last to leave each night. I think we all know teaching is NOT a 9-5 job, but I truly didn't know if I could be any more sleep deprived at that point last year.

    Then the best thing that could have happened occurred... I got REALLY REALLY sick! I know that might not sound like the “best thing,” but it caused me to slow down and remember ...

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  • Building rapport with students

    By Lisa Neubert

    Building a trusting and respectful relationship with students is a hurdle every new teacher must traverse during his or her first year. You always hear in college education classes, “You need to build rapport. You are not the students' friend.” But what does that look like for a beginning teacher in a classroom?

    During the first month of school, every beginning teacher struggles to learn names of the students, and learning the culture that exists in every school can be even more challenging than teaching itself some days. As a first-year teacher, I found a few good tips that help make building rapport and becoming part of the school's culture a little easier.

    One tip is be inquisitive. Don't be afraid to ask questions about your school's history, the town you teach in, or some unspoken rules that may be present at your school.

    The next tip ...

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  • No reason to dread your first parent-teacher conferences

    By Lisa Neubert

    Now that the school year is maturing, it's time to think about parent-teacher conferences. Most veteran teachers get excited during this time, because they get to speak with the parents about their student, but as a first-year teacher I was scared out of my mind. Last October was my first ever parent-teacher conferences and I can tell you I lost a lot of sleep leading up to that week. I was nervous that I would make a bad impression on the parents, that they would think I was too young to be teaching their children, or that they would “be mean” to me.

    I soon found out that all the dread I had inside about parent-teacher conferences was for nothing. The parents were genuinely interested in how their son/daughter was doing and they were not out to attack me. A few things that made the conferences easier ...

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  • Taking time to pick up some 'tricks of the trade'

    By Lisa Neubert

    As a first year teacher it is hard to keep your head above water some days, but as the year goes on and you start to feel more comfortable with the challenges in and out of the classroom, professional development is something that should be in the forefront of your mind. As teachers, we are often confined to our one classroom and it can feel very isolating at times, especially when things are going wrong. Attending a professional conference not only gives you some much needed adult interaction, it provides new “tricks of the trade” to make your classroom better.

    As a first-year teacher last year, I wanted to go to a professional development course on Non-Violent Crisis Intervention. It was a two-day course, and it was offered right at our school. I thought it would be a great way to learn how to deal with some ...

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  • Taking time for yourself

    By Lisa Neubert

    As fall settles in and the new school year matures, the excitement - and nervousness - that new teachers felt at the start of the school year can be replaced by feelings of being overwhelmed. One of the main things that helped me through my first year teaching was to let some of the little things slide. You want to be the best teacher you can be, but you will inevitably have bad days. Last year was my first year teaching science, and I remember during the first few months there were great days and there were days that I wished I could do again. At first I would come home, on the verge of tears, and be so frustrated that my lesson plan flopped, the class was rowdy, or just bad things happened. I quickly learned that if I kept thinking about my teaching this way ...

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  • 'No' is not a bad word

    By Lisa Neubert

    Teaching is not a 9 to 5 job, especially when you are a beginning teacher! During your first few years teaching there are hours of lesson plans to create, students to build relationships with, and parents to keep in contact with. Beyond the classroom there are a multitude of other interests that can also pull your time away from you. One of the hardest things I found during my first year teaching was to say “No” to the endless tasks I was asked to take on. At first I said yes to every athletic event to supervise, extra curricular to coach, and every dance to chaperone, but I wasn’t having any time to myself. I didn’t want to say “No” to my principal or fellow co-workers, but I was getting stretched too thin.

    Finally when I was asked to coach freshman girl’s basketball, I got up the ...

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  • New and veteran educators share questions, advice on starting the school year

    By WEAC Staff


    Teachers who are about to join a district for the first time shared questions with veteran educators this summer in preparing for the new school year. Here are some the responses:



    “How do I setup my classroom?”

    Iris Leske

    Madison Metropolitan School District (bilingual teacher, Leopold Elementary)

    Edgewood College


    “Debbie Diller’s “Spaces and Places” has good ideas for designing classroom layouts for those teaching PreK-5th. In addition, she has step by step hints for organizing materials for whole group instruction, small group instruction, classroom libraries, and literacy work stations. The book is sprinkled with lots of photos (some before/after).”

    Lori Cherf

    Hillsboro Elementary School


    “The children will create an atmosphere that you will need to adapt to. Depending on your needs and use of electrical outlets, pods and pairs usually are nice to start, unless you have tables. No. 1, make sure ...

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  • Talking with parents who are upset

    By Lisa Neubert

    My next tip for beginning teachers has to do with something they do not always prepare you for in college … talking with parents who are upset. No beginning teacher, or veteran teacher for that matter, wants to end a long day of teaching with a heated call from an upset parent, but unfortunately the call may come and it is best to be ready for it.

    My first such parent call came after I assigned and graded a project. The classes, made up mostly of freshman, were doing their first scientific research of their high school career and most were very unsure how to tackle the new task. We spent a week going through the project step by step and not a day went by that I didn’t mention something about plagiarism. When I began grading the projects I found two students who had decided ...

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