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Kem Smith

Advice Columnist

Dr. Kem Smith is Chalkbeat’s first advice columnist. She is a full-time 12th-grade English teacher in St. Louis, Missouri.

Be each other’s safe spaces. Collaborate on solutions. Get together outside of school and learn about your colleagues as people.
Follow the teacher’s lesson plan. Form relationships with students. When all else fails, use your acting skills.
Learn your rights. Allow your students a voice. Make available recent young adult books. Fight oppression.
If you decide to leave, coach a mentee to succeed you. Look for ways beyond teaching in a classroom to support school-aged children. Find your next step.
Technology can be your friend. Use help from ELL teachers, students to communicate with families who don’t speak English. Stick to district-approved technology for communication with students.
If you’re new to a school, make friends with teachers and colleagues. Unpack and settle in. Be flexible with change.
Consistently alert students and parents to what you expect to prevent problems and establish a healthy work-life balance.
Vote. Use social media to fill classroom needs. Set routines in the classroom. Make every day a fresh start.
Set professional and personal goals. Find a mentor. Make a date with yourself to follow one of your passions.
Use technology, your school community, and online resources to connect their interests to learning.
It’s harder than ever to juggle all the demands of being a teacher. Advocate for yourself with the administration.
Introducing Dr. Kem: Her new weekly Chalkbeat column is the place for teachers to share joys and frustrations (we know you’ve got them!) and get answers to teaching questions.