Dear First Years,
You are embarking on a journey that will challenge you to grow, challenge you to change, and challenge you to become a new person. Like the pains of child birth the experiences in the Mississippi Teacher Corps are challenging and painful, yet they are also rewarding. Here are some things to consider.
Managing the class is among the most difficult tasks you will undertake. I am far from perfect, yet here are some of my tips. Good luck! Remember that the situations during the summer school, no matter how crazy they are real, but also expect crazier.
1. Come off like an evil tyrant on the first day.
2. Remind all the new freshmen that this is high school, you failed an entire class of freshman last year and have no issues with doing the same to this class. (Facts do not matter as long as they think you did it will work.)
3. Use assigned seats.
4. Explain every rule and procedure in pain staking detail.
5. Have the students working on assignments on the first day.
6. Give the students homework on the first day.
7. Call all parents the first week to touch base and tell them something positive about their child.
8. Touch base with all the staff that helps run the school.
9. Be consistent, constant and fair with the consequences.
10. In my opinion, the south is far more relationally based. To succeed you need to be in control of the class from day one and gain the support of a variety of people who help keep the students in line and help run the school. Do these things and you will succeed!
Surviving the Culture Shock:
Unless you are a local, Mississippi culture can be hard to manage. I have lived in many different places and have been exposed to a variety of different experiences. I lived in small towns in North Dakota, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. I lived in big cities in Vancouver, Calgary and Kitchener. I assumed that I had been prepared for any cultural experience. I was ill prepared. Mississippi’s culture is unlike anything I have ever seen. Here are some tips for surviving the culture.
Surviving the Culture Shock Another Top Ten:
1. Remember you are only here for two years, you are not going to change the entire system over this time
2. I have never been in a location where respect was given/demanded for paper titles like it is here in Mississippi. The odds are reasonably high that your superiors may be your inferior in their intellectual abilities. Expect this…
3. People may express political views that make no logical sense. Remember, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
4. People are extremely friendly down here, expect to meet many people who go out of their ways to help you out.
5. This society is extremely segregated. This may have its origins in racism yet this is not always the case. Because of former racism there seems to be two distinct cultures in the south that have evolved. Currently this may have more to do with personal interest than a hate of different skin pigmentations.
6. Church is king down here but people are people. Expect to be preached at by people who perhaps have not fully comprehended the teachings found within their sacred scripture.
7. The grammar of this state is different. Expect to encounter a heavy accent and learn new words. The students will expand your vocabulary even more.
8. You may be isolated and have to rely on your fellow teachers to be among your peers. Expect this. The Mississippi Teacher Corps teachers will be your greatest allies.
9. Remember to find joy in the small victories at your school.
10. Remember to enjoy your time off so you can keep whatever sanity you have left.
General Advice: I am sure you already know.
In life there are a few thing that everyone knows. I hope that everyone knows but here are a few tips for general things that will help teachers succeed in Mississippi. (These tips were derived are from the book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”)
General Tips Another Top Ten:
1. Avoid criticizing others or complaining.
2. For all your students give honest and sincere appreciation.
3. Show an interest in your students and others
5. Remember people’s names
6. Encourage others to talk about themselves
7. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest
8. Always show respect of other views
9. If you are wrong admit it quickly and empathically.
10. Make the others feel important compliment them sincerely
Well, these are the majority of tips that I can leave you with. Use them with a grain of salt. I hope that can help at least someone. This program is a great program but you need to be prepared for some severe craziness.