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