“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.” ~ Henry Ford
How do we move from being a novice at something to being comfortable with the process? Think about a time you engaged in new, deep learning. What did you need to have in place? Support from others? More information? More time to actually practice the process? Time to reflect both individually and with others? Time to plan your next steps?
Recent experiences have allowed me to reflect on my career in education.
- I am having an awesome experience of being an instructional coach in the elementary school I attended as a child. I am able to walk into the classrooms where I sat as a child. It was within the walls of this elementary school that I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. Knowing that I lived up to my childhood dreams as a teacher for 18 years, an educational consultant for 11 and have goals to move into the role of an elementary principal are surreal. My love of education and learning has roots in this school. Life has come full circle!
- I’ve recently have had former students find me on other forms of social media and offer heart touching memories of their fourth grade experiences. Some have even ventured into the world of teaching for themselves. Its been enlightening to hear of their memories.
- I’ve been having an opportunity to observe a former fifth grade student as she subs as a paraprofessional in one of the schools I serve. Her love of education and helping others is still just as evident today as it was in fifth grade.
- I’ve also been fortunate to support some new teachers this fall. Seeing the world of education and teaching through their eyes has once again helped me realize just what it is like to enter the world of teaching and be surrounded by many with more experience.
Teaching is an art. We can dream of being a teacher. We can receive in a good college education and have wonderful practicum and student teaching experiences. But, there is nothing quite like your first year of teaching. Do you remember yours? Who was there to help you? How did you survive the difficult times? How did you share your successes?
Back in 1981 I had two wonderful teachers who took me under their wings. They were there in the good times and the difficult ones. They offered support, encouragement, advice, and most importantly their friendship. They were awesome teachers & and true angels. I can’t imagine my first few years without them.
As I think about my first years as a teacher, I’m reminded of these phases:
The University of California Santa Cruz New Teacher Project has worked to support the efforts of new teachers. A description of the Phases of First Year Teaching can be found on their website.
The Wisconsin Education Association Council mentioned the Top 5 Concerns of New Teachers as:
- Classroom arrangement and management
- Curriculum planning and pacing
- Establishing a grading system that is fair
- Parent conferences
- Personal sanity
If you are a new teacher I encourage you to seek support in these or other areas of concern. Ask questions. Find opportunities to watch others. If you are a veteran teacher, continue to reach out and support a new teacher in your school. If you are a principal, continue to find ways to support the new teachers you have hired. You saw their passion for education and are giving them a chance to live their dreams!
I recently heard of a principal that provided support in the following manner:
- He had his new teacher observe a veteran teacher in action while he covered the new teachers classroom. After the observation he also provided the two teachers time to debrief the observation.
This was a win-win situation for all involved. The new teacher received support. The veteran teacher’s strengths were validated and the principal had the opportunity to be in the classroom! Definitely a practice I will be putting into place as a principal!
World Teacher Day is October 5. Do you have a teacher mentor that has helped you along the way? Let’s share our memories and continue to offer support to each other!
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Henry E. Adams