The concept seems contradictory, right? You’ve been trained to keep your head down, do your work, and try not to get noticed. You’re a new teacher; tenure is two to four years away, and you’re just trying to survive. But these first few years are not only pivotal in creating your own teacher identity but also, and perhaps more importantly, to establishing your own happiness in the field.
Teacher retention is a huge issue in education today, and I’d argue that one reason (out of a litany of other reasons) newer teachers choose to leave the field is because of this very concept: self-imposed isolation until tenure.
There are a million books out there that provide tangible strategies for new teachers, offering suggestions on the importance of classroom management or connecting with kids and so much more, and all of that is great. But I’d like to present to you, the new(er) teacher, a paradigm shift: don’t wait to take risks. The time is now for you to be you, and here are five areas in education for you to begin taking risks as soon as yesterday.
As an educator, you’ll be expected to collaborate with your colleagues. In fact, research shows that when teachers collaborate, the rate of teacher turnover decreases. But while new teachers may be eager to collaborate, the process is sometimes intimidating.
Collaborating with new colleagues will be different than working with your college peers. Teachers will come to the table with different teaching practices and philosophies and a vast amount of experience that may overwhelm a new teacher, making it difficult to decide when to stand firm in your convictions and when to try something new.
Your first year of teaching is overwhelming. There’s no real way around this. Everything is new! But with help and support, it can get a little easier. That’s where we come in.
I am so excited to debut the first run of our Teaching Channel Teams group, dedicated to helping new teachers develop positive class culture. Through this group, you’ll get to use the Teaching Channel Teams platform to collaborate with teachers across the country, explore resources, and learn new strategies. All in less than one hour a week!
Teaching Channel wants to help teachers as they begin their career in education. In this series, you’ll find the videos, blogs, and other resources that will walk you through the steps you’ll need to take before the first day of school.
As a new teacher, I remember feeling overwhelmed by the wide range of abilities in my classroom. How was I supposed to meet all of my students’ needs while simultaneously covering grade level content? As I learned more about differentiation, this became easier, but it still remained one of the most challenging aspects of teaching.
Now that I coach teachers in their first and second years, I can safely say that differentiation remains a huge challenge. I went out and asked the members of Teaching Channel’s Coaching Think Tank to share their top differentiation strategies for new teachers. Check out these six tips for meeting the needs of diverse learners.
Autumn Bell, a math coach for Fresno Unified School District, recommends using equity sticks to randomly call on students during direct instruction. Autumn suggests that teachers plan a variety of different questions to ask. When calling on specific students, teachers can then ask them a question at their level. Autumn stresses that it’s important to have high expectations for all students, but starting with leveled questions can help to build students’ confidence in sharing their thoughts.
To say that the first year of teaching is challenging would be an understatement. There are so many moving parts to manage and so many new things to learn that it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start. Keep it simple and start with these small teaching tweaks.
1. Reset and reteach.
The beginning of the New Year is the perfect time for a new start. Your students will benefit from practicing classroom routines and procedures. This time of year also makes for a natural opportunity to shift routines and practices that haven’t been working. If you discover, for example, that your pencil sharpening procedure isn’t going as well as you’d hoped, reset and create a procedure that works better for you and your students.
When I first started teaching, I was passionate and loved my subject area, but I was clueless when it came to classroom management. My teacher preparation program gave me no specific strategies, so I went into the classroom thinking that if I had a well-planned lesson, classroom management would take care of itself.
I, like many teachers, learned about classroom management the hard way, through trial and error. Now, after ten years in the classroom and five years coaching teachers, I want to share three things I wish I had known.
1. Teach Time-Saving Routines and Procedures
One morning during my first year of teaching, I was entering attendance at my desk. When I looked up, every student in my class had rotated their desks so they were all facing the wall. They continued working as if nothing had happened. It was bizarre and frustrating; if they were capable of doing this so efficiently, why did it take an eternity to get into reading groups or lined up for lunch? I didn’t think I needed to teach middle-schoolers how to enter a classroom — they’ve been doing this for years! It turns out I was wrong.
At the beginning of every school year, I spend several weeks building classroom agreements in collaboration with my students. Every year, when I ask them what kind of environment they want in their classroom, they almost always say “fun,” “nice,” “respectful,” and “interesting.”
Then, I ask, “How do we get there?” Thinking backwards helps students come up with our classroom agreements. If we want our class to be respectful, we think up agreements together, like “one person talks at a time” and “listen with your whole body.”
This summer, Teaching Channel will be helping beginning teachers countdown to their first year of teaching. We’ll walk you through the steps you’ll need to take before the first day of school.
Before getting a classroom of my own, I spent two years student teaching in the classrooms of veteran teachers. I had gone to professional development sessions and seen experienced teachers share their amazing practices. But I had never seen a beginning teacher in action before.
Often times we learn from master teachers, but it can also be helpful to see what the beginning teacher experience looks like. In this New Teacher Survival Guide video playlist, we get to follow beginning teachers as they experience their first years of teaching. With the help of mentors, we see these teachers focus on eight essential first-year skills:
1. Planning: In this video, High School English Teacher Nicole Rubinetti plans a lesson on writing personal statements for college. English Department Head Meg Murray helps Ms. Rubinetti come up with a specific and measurable objective and then they plan exactly how she will support her students to meet that objective.
See More Videos
Research tells us that LGBTQ students continue to experience harassment and discrimination at school, and these climates negatively affect health and educational outcomes. However, the narratives mean more coming directly from the students themselves. Below are the responses offered by three students when asked what they would like teachers to know about their experiences as gender-nonconforming students.