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First-Year Teaching Success: Insights from Larry Tomiyama

Updated: Jun 7

Hello, EduMagicians! Welcome back to another episode of the EduMagic Podcast. As graduation season is upon us, we have a truly special guest today, Larry Tomiyama, joining us from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Mr. Tomiyama is here to share his invaluable strategies to help you transition smoothly from campus to classroom as a first-year teacher. Trust me, you don't want to miss this!

A Journey of Passion and Dedication

Larry's journey in education is nothing short of inspiring. With 32 years of experience in K-12 education, including a focus on at-risk and vulnerable students in his final years, Mr. Tomiyama has a wealth of knowledge to share. His last role as a principal at Our Lady of Lourdes, a school dedicated to educating the most vulnerable students, was transformative. It led him to his current passion: teaching future educators at St. Mary's University and sharing his experiences with anyone willing to listen.

Creating a Safe Learning Environment: Larry’s Core Philosophy

One of the most powerful takeaways from Larry's conversation is the emphasis on creating a safe environment for students. He believes that nothing sustainable can occur until students feel safe. This involves creating predictability in their school experience—knowing how they'll be treated, what's expected of them, and ensuring their basic needs are met.

Mr. Tomiyama's story of "Billy," a grade three student with severe behavioral issues, exemplifies this. Through patience and consistent care, Larry demonstrated how building trust and safety can lead to significant positive changes in a student’s behavior.

His mantra is clear: Safety first, then security, and finally trust. When students feel safe and secure, they are willing to take risks and trust the learning process.

Words of Wisdom for First Year Teachers

Larry shared an abundance of tips collected from his interactions with first through fifth-year teachers. Here are some key highlights:

  • Plan in Chunks: Avoid day-to-day planning. Instead, plan in larger chunks (weekly or bi-weekly) to manage time effectively and reduce stress.

  • Be Okay with “Okay” Days: Not every lesson will be groundbreaking, and that’s perfectly fine. Aim for consistency and incremental improvement.

  • Find a Trustworthy Colleague: Having someone to share your experiences with can make a huge difference. Find a mentor or a trusted colleague for support and advice.

  • Balance Work and Life: Teaching can be all-consuming. Make sure to engage in activities that bring you joy and do them on your way home from school to ensure they actually happen.

  • Don’t Compare Yourself to Others: Social media can create unrealistic expectations. Focus on your unique journey and growth.

Real Talk from the Trenches

Larry surveyed recent graduates to gather their insights and advice. Here are some standout pieces of advice:

  • Take Risks: Don’t be afraid to try new things. If it doesn’t work, you can always adjust.

  • Stay Humble: Recognize that learning is a lifelong journey. Embrace the process and be open to continuous improvement.

  • Eat Lunch with Staff: This is a great way to build relationships and stay informed about school happenings.

  • Keep Your Joy: Whatever brings you joy, make it a priority and incorporate it into your routine.

Get in Touch with Larry

Larry's passion for education and helping new teachers is evident. If you have questions or need advice, especially about working with diverse learners, don’t hesitate to email him. He's more than willing to share his resources and stories to help you succeed.

Final Thoughts

First year teaching success cover art

As you embark on your teaching journey, remember that you have the EduMagic within you. Embrace the challenges, celebrate the small victories, and keep growing. Thank you for tuning in, and until next time, keep the magic alive in your classrooms!

Remember, EduMagicians: You have the power to transform lives, one lesson at a time.

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