An open suggestion to administration/people in charge
In my four years of teaching, I have been in three different school districts in two different states. This, my fifth year, will put me in school district number 4. As the eternal “new guy,” I have experienced all types of administration and their various ideas of helping out us new people. Some have been extremely helpful. Others… well… not so much.
Many of them have been teachers in the past, which is why it baffles me that they have no idea how to help you transition into a new school as an experienced educator. When they guide you to the department head, they don’t realize that that poor person is probably burned out, meeting-ed out, and more than likely only knows your strengths and why you were hired for the position.
So here is my two cents for the Welcoming Committee of New Teachers:
- Curriculum. As soon as classes are settled, either get the curriculum maps and books to the new teacher or guide them to someone who can get it to them as soon as possible after the person is hired. We’re nervous. We’re excited. We’re more likely to do some planning during the summer than someone who is coming back from last year. Please don’t wait until one week before the students come back to plop a giant pile of papers/books/files in our laps as we are in frantic mode at this point. We have meetings, training, classroom set-up, new school layouts, new faces of co-workers, and financial worries that occupy our minds and planning probably won’t be as thoughtful as it could have been.
- Orientation Planning. Many of the school districts I have been in as well as interviewed with/have friends in/observed use Orientation as a time of meet-and-greet. This is great for community building in with the n00bs. However, having someone from High School A plan with High School B is disastrous. Even within the same districts, classes are radically different. Allow this time for the people to go and meet with their own departments and gain information and planning tips that will help them. Instead of planning, give new teachers community building activities that they can use in their classroom. Allow people from the same communities to team build among themselves since they will be more readily available to each other than people from other locations.
- Information. Broad topic, I am aware. What I mean by information is give us a “Climate Overlook.” Who are these kids? What are the demographics? What are my particular classes going to look like? Are class rosters made? What clubs are available for the students? What clubs need sponsors? Who do I contact if I am interested in club/sport/activity? What does a typical student’s day look like in the school? What is the bell schedule? When are faculty meetings/department meetings/etc? What are the teacher duties we can expect? What is the parental involvement like? What is the school’s “BIG SELL?” Is football a big deal or is everyone nuts about lacrosse? Do you do powderpuff and is it the big thing for the school?
- The Out-Of-Town Teacher. Be mindful of who you have hired. If someone is from out-of-town or even just another town, give them an idea of what to expect from the community. Teachers who are moving to your area might need some guidance to where to live. Where are the good parts of town to look? Do any places give rent or housing discounts to teachers? Where should you go for lunch? Is it impossible to go somewhere for lunch because of crowds? WHERE IS WALMART?!? Is there a Teacher Resource Center at the district headquarters?
- The Tour. You know your school. You know where the soda machines are and the bathrooms that aren’t disgusting. You know the locations of the fridges, microwaves, laminating machine, and copy machines. Give me a tour and help me identify the places that I will need. Take me to the supply closet. Show me the high traffic areas and the ways around them so I can go pee during passing periods.
- Ambassador. Find one teacher that has been in the school for a while that can act as ambassador. It would be even better if they were someone you think I would get along with. Introduce me to them. Choose someone who is open to answering all the questions that I have forgotten to ask in my interview and follow up. Give me their email address or cell phone number and let me voice all of my concerns and questions to someone who is trustworthy and friendly. A friendly face once the halls are crowded is worth so much.
- Assessments. Am I teaching courses that have district or state assessments? How have they performed in past years? Will their performance be reflected in my evaluations? Are there preparation guides for teachers? What did they look like last year? What is the school focused on for this assessment this year?
- Swag. Give me something that shows spirit for my new school. I’m excited. I’m new. I want to wear a t-shirt showing everyone in the world I’m so very proud to be a part of this community and this school. It could be something as simple as keychain or as generous as a sweatshirt or camp chair. It is the teacher equivalent of the “Key to the City” in a school. Welcome me to the community by giving me something that will allow me to blend in as part of it.
I can tell you these are great suggestions because I experienced them all at my school last year. Not only will these ideas get new teachers off to a much less stressful start, but you are more likely to build school pride and keep those excellent teachers that you hired!
And to those of you soon-to-be teachers: if your administration doesn’t cover these things, reach out to someone friendly and ask!
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- bethechangeyouwant said: Awesome.
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