“Many new tchrs think success comes from “stuff”- resources, programs etc. Success will ONLY come from them&sound personal philosophy” Sean Grainger
This week #edchatters discussed how new teachers should be prepared to enter the classroom for the first time. There were so many suggestions, twitter could barely keep up with all the twitter chatter. These are the 5 useful tips from the #edchat discussion that should be helpful to new teachers, administrators, and mentors.
Even if you are placed with a mentor, take the time to find mentors that you trust and respect. As one teacher suggests, cover them in cookies or kind words because this person will be your knight or knightess in shining armor. Mine sure was; thanks Mrs. Nicholson! If you are a veteran teacher, be willing to engage with new teachers. Open your classrooms and your heart to them. If your school doesn’t pay you for your efforts, see it as a way to give back to your profession, your students, and your school.
Become a Learner First and a Teacher Second
One of the complaints about first year teachers and from first year teachers is often that they do not understand the curriculum. It is ok to admit that you do not know it all and ask for help. Find a cohort of new teachers to meet with and create a safe place to share frustrations, reflections and encouragements. Also, make and take time to keep up with what’s new in education. One easy way to do this is to build a professional learning network. For many teachers, it keeps the desire to teach alive while providing daily tips and tools.
Observe and Reflect
Personally, I believe this is one of the most important parts of enhancing your teaching methods. Take a personal day to observe other teachers, including other grade levels and subjects, as well as teachers at your school and teachers at other schools. Find out what successful schools and teachers are doing well and try it. Discover what isn’t working and steer clear. Most importantly, observe yourself. Record yourself teaching throughout the year. Take time to reflect on your lessons, units, days, and experiences. One #edchatter, @SteveMoore, blogged every week during his first year of teaching. Check it out here.
You have no time to waste! Don’t be afraid to speak up about what you think might work better for your students or yourself as a learner. For example, if you are receiving a lot of philosophical advice and you need practical support, speak up! Let your administrators and coaches know what it is you or your students need most. I felt so overwhelmed and under supported my first year of teaching, even with my graduate school mentors, school leaders, PLC, and Teach for America directors. But all I had to do was make my needs clear and things changed. I received the type of support I needed most and my students benefited immediately.
Take time for YOU, Find a Balance
My first year in the Teach for America program my cohort was attending graduate school full time while also teaching full time. Our first course was technology in education. I laugh now because this is my biggest passion. At the time we left at 11 each night, most of us crying from the stress of it all. The following year the first course for the new cohort was no longer technology in education, but an emotional wellness course. The point is, new teachers need to take time for themselves and find a balance, otherwise they will quickly get burned out. Teaching is an emotionally tolling job, with so many wonderful benefits. However, it is important to make time for you. Don’t volunteer for anything beyond your teaching responsibilities your first year. Your administrator’s will understand and appreciate your dedication to your students, your profession, and yourself.
Near the end of the chat, @Cybraryman1 suggested the creation of NTLB – No Teacher Left Behind Program. All jokes aside, he has created a website dedicated to new teachers. Check it out here. For new teachers ready to begin learning about how to harness technology as a teaching and learning tool, also check out my new e-book, The Beginner’s Guide to 21st Century Teaching and Learning.
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