(Me and my pre-service teachers.)
I love to learn and grow and this post is meant to be a support to those of you new to the teaching profession. It’s also meant to be a way for me to collaborate with YOU, virtually. All the rest of the month of August, I will be sharing a series on Periscope to bring this blog post to life. I hope you will join me!
I originally wrote this blog post in 2011, but have revised and updated it to reflect some new resources. So here we go!
In no way, do I want to add to the burden of the filled-to-the-brim, new teacher stress bucket. I do however, want to share these 20 tips which I hope will help ease new teachers into a fun, successful school year.
Some of these will be in the form of social media tools, which I think are awesome, and wish I had as a newbie. And each little tip is linked to a resource which I hope you will find supportive.
As a new teacher this may be the farthest thing from your mind. But… it’s the real reason you wanted to be a teacher in the first place. I recommend that you consistently keep in mind what your passion is as a teacher. Read Unshakeable by Angela Watson. It’s all about the role passion plays in our work, our lives and our classrooms. Consider picking up a copy. It’s a good read.
We all hear this term so often around the web… but what does it mean? Visit this wiki for an easy read about what it means to be 21st century educator. It has great resources to take you further in the journey when you’re ready. Be sure to view the video at the bottom of the wiki home page.
As you begin your first year, building relationships with grade-level buddies and others at your school site is critical to your success. Don’t be afraid to reach out and let them know that you are eager to get to know them. You want to seek out your administrators also and begin to build a good relationship. Encourage them to get to know you, too! This also includes the most important relationship: the one with your students and their families. You are central to their lives now, and your actions will play a big role in all they do this year — you can count on that! Read this post and begin thinking about how you will build trusting relationships with your school community.
How you begin to communicate with your student’s and families, is truly a reflection of your commitment to them as their teacher. Communication now and throughout the school year is so important. It’s vital and essential that it’s on-going and creates an environment of collaboration — with parents as your partners in this journey. Take a look at teacher Pernille Ripp’s example of first-time communication with students’ parents and get a feel for how you might get started. Then I encourage you to create a class for students and parents on Remind.com The power of a tech tool like Remind to support you to keep in close contact with your classroom community will be key in ensuring a successful year. You can read more about how to set up your class here.
When I was a new teacher, I sadly taught in isolation. Experienced teachers were unwilling to share resources or lesson plans with me. They held those very close, almost like a mom holds their infant child. It was a tough time for me and I had to rely on my own skills and talents to get me through those early years. This lack of sharing and collaboration meant that every time I wanted to launch a project, I was on my own to make it happen. It doesn’t need to be that way! Open yourself up — share and collaborate with your grade-level team and/or college classmates. Share resources, join planning teams, be a part of the conversation! You will find that the road to developing lessons and projects will be so much more meaningful to you because you did it with a collaborative spirit! And join our New Teacher Chat community on Google Plus! You can post a question, share a resource and connect to others that want to grow their practice.
6. Get a Mentor
I believe strongly in the power of mentoring. I believe that this relationship is vital to the success of a new teacher. However, not all experienced teachers at a school site are able to take on this challenge. In 2010, I had the idea, that if there weren’t enough experienced teachers at a school site who could, or were willing to mentor a new teacher, why not a virtual mentor who would be willing to lend support? The New Teacher Mentoring Project was born! I urge you to seek out this group on my site. Many amazing educators from around the globe are available to support and mentor you through the first years of your practice and beyond! You can also read Standing in the Gap Empowering New Teachers Through Connected Resources. It’s my recent book that shares the power of mentoring through online communities of practice. Grab a copy and take time this year to read it.
I spent over ten years as a site principal. One thing I noticed most of all, as I worked with my new teachers, was that they failed to ask for help. They didn’t ask for help from me, their mentors, or even their own colleagues! Then when the big concerns arose, as they almost always did, they spent all this time apologizing for why they weren’t successful. Don’t make this same mistake. Ask for help! It’s okay and shouldn’t be seen as a sign of weakness. On the contrary, most will see it as a strength. Isn’t this what we expect from our students? Don’t we tell them to ask for help if they are struggling with a concept? So why wouldn’t you?
You know it all… right? Are you sure? It has been my experience that some new teachers are offended when their mentor or admin asks them to make some adjustments or dare I say it, improvements. Don’t let that be you. Don’t let your ego get in the way of an opportunity to grow or move in a better direction. As the year develops, if you have a good admin, you will have an opportunity to be observed. Again, if you have a good admin they will comment on your lessons and offer some ideas on areas for growth. Be gracious and accept them. Ask questions about what they observed. Ask what they offer as a proactive solution, and how they will be supporting you. Then take some time for personal reflection. Read the post by Edna Sackson. It’s a great start…
I know… I’ve heard it all from many new teachers: “It’s too hard. I’m too tired. I just don’t have anything to say.” I hope you will consider leaving those excuses behind. Many new teachers are blogging and I can’t say enough about the power of blogging in your life as a new teacher. It will help you reflect, get feedback, and collaborate. I, myself, was a novice blogger five years ago. I’m happy to share that I feel like my blogging experience will always be a journey of discovery — and I kinda like that. In any case, take a look at my blog to get a feel for what a personal/professional blog might look like. There are some awesome blogging platforms available on the web. Pick one that speaks to you and then… jump in! Let me know when you’ve finally got it up and running!
As soon as you have jumped in and started to blog, get your students doing it too! I know there might be confidentiality issues that may persist at your school site, but if you are able to, this is a must-do. The insight you’ll gain about your students’ lives will be priceless. Many teachers have their students blogging worldwide. Take a look at Linda Yollis and all the work she is doing with blogging her students. It’s incredible! I’m happy to connect you to her so you can ask questions and collaborate. Give it some thought…
If you don’t take time for rest and relaxation you will crash and burn! This is the truth — no doubt about it. What commitment have you made to yourself to ensure that you do this — and get some exercise, too? I created a Fitness Board on Pinterest as a reminder that we must take the time to relax and stay fit. Adam Bornstein has a post fueled by this idea: “I wanted to understand why educators struggled with their health when most teachers are inspired by a desire to set a positive example and lead.” Check out his blog post for ideas on how to be sure you make the time to refuel and renew yourself — and not just with coffee!
A wiki is a website that lets any visitor become a participant. You can create or edit the actual site contents without any special technical knowledge or tools. A wiki is continuously being transformed and is a living collaboration. I encourage you to take the time to create a wiki for your classroom. It can hold all kinds of great content that you can share with your students and their parents — the power of wikis is amazing! Check out this site for ideas on how to get started. You also might want to visit Weebly or Google sites to get a feel for what meets your style.
13. Use Skype, or YouTube Live
Most of us know how to use Skype to chat with friends or colleagues, but did you know that you can use it to connect with educators (some who are also new teachers) around the globe? Be sure to visit Skype in the Classroom for awesome ideas, projects, and collaborations! I’d also encourage you to check out YouTube Live (replacing Google Hang Out on Sept. 12) as a tool to connect to other educators around the world! It may take a little work to get used to, but once you do, it will be a breeze.
14. Join Twitter
Twitter is an online social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, informally known as “tweets.” Twitter is an amazing social media tool for educators and can be a huge source of support for new teachers. If you aren’t yet on Twitter, check out Steven Anderson’s Live Binder on Twitter for Educators. It’s not to be missed. If you are on Twitter… Bravo! Now pass this link to a friend who’s still on the fence.
Twitter chats are the next best thing to sharing a coffee with a buddy at a local Starbucks. New teachers can find many wonderful support systems in chats. I want to take this time to invite you to join our New Teacher Chat on Twitter (on 1st/3rd Wednesdays, 5PT/8ET, #ntchat). It’s small, practitioner focused, and supportive. If you are new to chats, it’s really the best place to start. I hope you will join us!
16. Join a Community
As a new teacher, you may at times feel isolated. The power of an online community is that you can probably find someone else who’d like some company. Kidding aside, more than that, it’s a way to be a part of something bigger than yourself! You can also freely contribute, share a blog post, or ask a question. Consider joining our New Teacher Chat group on Facebook for starters. You can also find other great communities such as Ning, which will offer amazing opportunities to connect to resources you may have never known existed! Seek out relevant content specific communities for deeper learning.
17. Start a YouTube Channel and Use Periscope
The YouTube channel in the link above was created for new teachers, by me. The purpose is to provide year-long feedback to new teachers on how to get through the first year of teaching. Think about how you could use your own YouTube channel with your students, parents, and colleagues. It’s fun, and easy to do. Give it a try. I also want to encourage you to consider sharing your classroom using Periscope. This new application, created by the folks at Twitter, is providing educators a chance to share a window into their work and support others to connect to them in real time. I’ve begun to use it in my work, and you can follow me here. The beauty of this app is that once you complete your broadcast, you can use your settings tp capture your feed to your camera roll or let it disappear in 24 hours. You can also take that feed and upload it to your YouTube channel. Here is an example of a recent Periscope interview that I did for my New Teacher Academy series. I think as you start to use this app you will find it fun and exciting to use, if not in your first year, then in your second year for sure. Be sure to get permissions to share your students faces, whenever you are photographing or filming them.
As a new teacher, it’s vital that you carve out some time to attend professional development conferences. And these days, it’s no longer necessary to spend tons of hard-earned resources to participate. You can attend amazing free professional development opportunities online — and often times in your jammies! Take a moment to explore an example of what a recent online conference looks like using Google Hangouts. I also highly recommend the great Free PD that SimpleK12 provides. Let me know what you think about the idea of free online webinars! And, next month the EduPassions Conference (link above) will launch on September 3, 2016!
When you look back on the journey of this first year, you will be amazed at your experiences! I really hope that you will capture them in a journal, a blog, with an online diary! I’m a big fan of journal writing, and over the years have captured some amazing memories that would have otherwise been lost. The ability of a journal to allow for personal reflections is truly amazing. In the process of your own journal writing, you will think of great ideas of how to do this with your students. For a quick, easy way to journal, check out Penzu. It’s really cool — and it’s free!
“And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” ~Thomas Wayne from Batman Begins (2005)
What a great movie quote, don’t you think? It speaks to the fact that we are going to fail. No doubt about that. It happens to all of us. But what we do about it, regardless of what “it” is, is truly what’s the most important. The sooner you learn that it’s okay to fail, the more enriching your experience as a teacher will be. You will embrace your failures as opportunities for new beginnings.
I’m fortunate to have been a part of The 30 Goals Challenge for about 3 years. For this challenge, I created blog posts on various subjects that speak to the heart of what it means to be an educator. You can view most of my posts, here. As I close this post, I leave you with the message of goal #13 : Learn from your mistakes.
So…what do you think? Any one of these tips resonate with you? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.
All the best to you on your journey!
This post originally appeared on Edutopia, a site created by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, dedicated to improving the K-12 learning process by using digital media to document, disseminate, and advocate for innovative, replicable strategies that prepare students. View Original >
This post was so well received that it also appeared in Huffington Post Education. View Original>