“How was your second day of school?” I asked a new teacher.
“Not so good,” she replied. “I’m finding more things I need to learn and figure out.” She wondered how my day was. I noted that it was going well, but I was very tired. She agreed and wondered how long that lasts. I told her it was usually a couple weeks until we were feeling adjusted and not so worn out from the days at school. I remember going home and just lying on the couch, reading and resting. The new teacher found it comforting that even after 33 years of teaching, I am still exhausted at the end of the second day of school. She was also consoled by the fact that I still make mistakes, even after all these years of teaching.
I chatted with another new teacher. She was beating herself up because she had messed up with one of her classes. We talked about it—“We all make mistakes” and “This was only your first time – give it some time.” “Give yourself grace!” We need to give ourselves grace as we begin the year and learn new procedures and methods.
To the new teacher (and experienced teacher, as well!) I would like to share things I’ve learned in my years of teaching. I have learned from the new teachers, too. Take heart, new teacher!
Be open to learning and receive teachable moments for yourself.
A new teacher and I were discussing one of my students with whom we both work. This child needs a lot of supervision. I shared a lesson I’ve learned: “Praise publicly; correct privately” and that this can be challenging to do. I felt bad because I did call out this child’s name in front of the whole class. He was tipping his water bottle over someone’s head and I called him out on that inappropriate behavior. The new teacher was concerned then because she had yelled at some boys as they ran out on the soccer field. We agreed that sometimes we have to correct in front of the class, depending on the situation, and she commented, “I want to make it a teachable moment.”
Ask questions; ask for advice.
Most people like to share and feel affirmed when you ask questions, so don’t be afraid to ask. “Where is this supply kept?” “How can I prevent so much talking from the students?” “What do you do when….?” Experienced teachers are willing to help and guide new teachers, I’ve found.
Be open to corrective conversations.
A new teacher asked how to handle a situation. She hoped she could learn from someone who had dealt with the same thing.
Watch a more experienced teacher.
The first day of recess, the new teacher went outside with her class so she could see the procedures for lining up and coming inside. She said she wanted to watch the procedures and learn from the way the experienced teacher did it.
Ask someone to check over your communications.
It’s helpful to have feedback from someone else who has been communicating with parents and students and knows the families. Ask if you’ve included all of the needed information and how your writing might sound to families. Communications reflect on the sender.
Enjoy your days!
I asked another new teacher how it was going, and he commented, “I can’t wait for the weekend.” I understood that. I was weary, too, and looked forward to the weekend schedule.
Make sure to take some time to rest and relax, and not “live at school.” I know this can be hard. After 33 years I am still at school late many times. Sometimes I just have to stop working. I used to change bulletin boards each month, but one year when I was very busy I did not get that done. I realized that nothing bad happened because my bulletin boards were not changed! I needed to let some things go.
The new teacher shared that everyone has been so helpful and supportive – thank you to staff for helping new teachers, and to new teachers for joining us and working together!
Blessings to new and experienced teachers in your new year of school!
CONTRIBUTOR: Arlene Birt