Veteran teacher shares advice, experiences with first-timer

Back to School

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – As a new school year arrives, several teachers across the city are preparing to face students for the first time. In an effort to find out what advice a long-time teacher would give to a newbie, WANE 15 moderated a discussion between two instructors at Concordia Lutheran High School.

Chris Murphy has been teaching for more than 30 years and leads classes covering a range of topics including preforming arts and algebra. Katie Underwood moved in to the room next door to Murphy, where she plans to connect to students through art. She student taught virtually last year, but is seeing students in-person for the first time.

“My grandfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I thought this proves to me that I need to do what I want to do and do what I love,” Underwood told WANE 15. “So, I went back [to school] and I went for Art Education. Because, not only can I use my gifts as an artist, I can use my gifts as a teacher and share this with as many people as I possibly can. Starting with students is just the way to do it, then they grow up with a life-long love of art.”

Murphy reflected on his first time teaching decades ago as he talked with Underwood, who admitted to experiencing a range of nerves and excitement ahead of the first day.

“I distinctly remember my first year in my first position with fourth graders and just the excitement, the nervousness of knowing if what I’m doing is right,” Murphy said.

Murphy explained to Underwood that a his relationship with a student is at the center of his process ensuring success in the classroom. He added that teachers should be intentional in getting to know students.

“I haven’t so much seeked out advice, other than just looking back on my own experiences and the teachers that I remember and the teachers that really had an impact on me,” Underwood recalled about relationships she has had with teachers. “I just, I hope that I can be that person for someone, even if it’s just one student.”

Among other tips, Murphy pointed out that Underwood will get advice from several people, but reassured her she will find her own style.

“I have lots of things I’m uncertain of,” Underwood added. “But I’m confident in my ability and I’m confident in my faith, that no matter what happens, I am going to be given the tools to handle it. So, whether that means, oh my gosh running next door to Chris and saying this is happening in my classroom I don’t know what to do about it, or just saying, you know, a quick prayer before a tough class comes in.”

Concordia’s first day of school has been set for Tuesday, August 10 with New Student Orientation scheduled the day prior.

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