Faculty & Staff Blog

Welcome to the Villa Joseph Marie faculty and staff blog! In this space, you'll learn more about our teachers and staff, their classroom styles, their suggestions for other teachers, and what they've learned as education professionals. Please check back often for new insights from the Villa faculty and staff.

February 2019

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By Maggie May, Social Studies Chair

Are you student teaching or in your first year of teaching? If so, then this Villa Blog Post is the one for YOU! Becoming a teacher can be daunting. Here you are in front of a group of students for the very first time. You want everything to be perfect. You’ve been waiting for this moment for so long.

That first year can be nerve-wracking, stressful and overwhelming. And, to put it bluntly, no amount of class time can prepare you for the “real thing.” You will encounter challenges throughout your career. You will be blindsided by issues that force you to think on your feet, and each day it will be up to you how you handle it all. It isn’t easy, but you can do it. And while everyone’s experiences are different, a little advice from those who came before you never hurts…

I’m excited and grateful to have had the opportunity over the course of the last few weeks to gather together some teachers at Villa Joseph Marie High School to give you their words of wisdom. We sat down and talked about everything teaching-related. From our favorite teaching tools, how to handle stress, and the best advice we’ve ever been given. Some of the responses can be found below, while others have even been captured on film.

In the wise words of Laurie McBrinn, veteran teacher of 40 years here at Villa, the best piece of advice she has is this: “Well, here's what was said to me: "Be a strict martinet until December and then ease up a bit." It's true that you must establish your authority and discipline routine if you want to be able to actually go into a classroom and teach. You can't teach if they're hanging from the ceilings! Over the years, however, I've found out other things as well: Don't pretend to knowledge you don't possess; Don't be afraid to admit you've made a mistake; Give yourself a break and realize that, in the first two to three years of teaching, you're as much a student as they are; Don't be afraid to ask for help from your mentor or department chair - no one's judging you if you need help; Don't burn yourself out and model your passion and enthusiasm for your field. And, last but not least…Have Fun!”

Some teachers featured in this post have been teaching only a few years, while others have been in the profession for longer than you’ve been alive. Some have moved on to administrator roles while others came from teaching at the undergraduate level. Some taught in public schools for several years and others have always been here at Villa, therefore, each teacher featured offers valuable and unique perspectives that should leave you with a sense of reassurance and a bit of motivation to be the very best teacher you can be. You are joining the best profession there is, after all.

According to Mrs. Carr, someone who had taught almost every math course offered at Villa for 15 years and is the current principal -- the best thing you can do is “go with the flow.”

Mrs. Carr goes on to explain how “A new teacher often feels “very regimented” with lesson plans and using a precise format that they must follow exactly. Realize that no classroom will ever be the same every day. You can plan as much as you want but you have to let the students and the lesson lead itself. And no matter the activity, if there is a lot of interaction and dialoging between teacher and student it will be much better.”

The best piece of advice that she has is: “Be confident in your ability to teach your lessons, but know that they will not always go exactly as planned.”

The best piece of advice I was ever given was to BE YOURSELF. Kids read “fake” in an instant.

And finally, if Ms. McBrinn could travel back in time, before her first year as a teacher she wishes she knew “that the greatest joy I would receive in the classroom was the spark of recognition, enlightenment, epiphany...the light that appears in a student's eyes and suffuses her face when she "gets it." Truly a wonder.”

And now it’s your turn.

Enjoy the rest of the advice in the video and know that here at Villa we’re cheering you on.

Principal's Office

Lauren Carr
Principal
215-357-8810 ext. 195
lcarr@vjmhs.org

Vincent D'Andrea, Jr.
Vice Principal
215-357-8810 ext. 207
vdandrea@vjmhs.org

Tina Schuster
Executive Administrative Assistant
215-357-8810 ext. 199
tschuster@vjmhs.org