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New Teachers 

Nearly one quarter of teachers leave the profession within the first three years.  New teachers who leave complain that they were unsupported in an atmosphere of “trial by fire.”

Below are ten simple things that new teachers can do that may help you cope better with the very difficult first years.  

1. Create an informal network of veteran teachers who are willing to support and collaborate with you.  Although everyone is very busy and time is compressed, most experienced teachers understand how difficult the first years are and they will frequently help as much as they can.  Below are some things that you might do with your network:

  • Have a veteran help you design a teaching lesson

  • Organize an informal brainstorming session with your network where the topic is “How to thrive during the first years of teaching.”

  • Have a veteran introduce you to support people in the school and, when appropriate, the district.

  • Have a veteran show you where things are located; the “ins” and “outs” of your particular school

  • Ask veterans how they cope with the pressures of teaching

  • Ask experienced teachers to share their favorite materials, “things that work for them.”

  • Review some lesson plans of experienced teachers.  Remember that you don’t have to build everything from scratch. 

  • Observe veterans teaching

  • Have experienced teachers observe and critique some of your lessons

2. If possible, team teach a lesson or unit with a veteran.  When you actually plan and deliver a lesson or unit with a master teacher you will gain loads of insight and hands-on learning.

3. Find an experienced teacher to help as your “colleague mentor.”  This should be someone you trust so that you can discuss honestly and openly about the pressures, stress, and challenges of teaching.  Set up regularly scheduled times for conversation. 

4. Establish an informal support group with other new teachers.  Use your time together to discuss strategies, best practices, and tips for survival.

5. Seek classroom management tips.  Before students arrive, ask a few veteran teachers to provide you with the “dos” and “don’ts” of the two “biggies”: discipline and classroom management.

6. Consult with your principal.  Ask for a short meeting where you ask the principal to share his or her insights about achieving success during the first years of teaching. Inquire about professional development opportunities for new teachers.

7. Participate in professional development opportunities.  You can build productive relationships, find helpful resources, and develop an important sense of professionalism by participating in inservices, committees, and/or conferences.  Of course you have to be careful not to overextend yourself or gobble up too much preparation time.

8. Don’t neglect parent involvement.   Don’t forget to keep the communication lines open with parents.  Keep them informed about what they can expect, how they can be involved, and how they can support your teaching efforts.

9. Be prepared, but flexible.  Plan and over plan, never go into the classroom without a well conceived blueprint of where you want to go, but expect surprises.  If something doesn’t work, stop it and move to something else. Remember that you are teaching kids, not lessons.

10. Keep your career in perspective.  You are going to be criticized, not everything will work as you hoped, not every student will love you, mistakes will be made, some lessons will flop, bad behavior will happen, you will feel overwhelmed, and your “to do” list will be way too long.  But remember two important things: You don’t have to be perfect and teaching will gradually get easier and less stressful.

 

 

 

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