The human ingenuity within any organisation are it's greatest competitive advantage. Yet according to the latest statistics, over half of todays workers are disengaged . When leaders are committed and actively working to engage, inspire and embolden – they unleash untapped potential and raise the bar not just on productivity, but on the value their organization contributes to all stakeholders.
In no way, do I want to add to the burden of the already-filled-to-the-brim, new teacher stress bucket. I do however, want to share just 20 tidbits 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 had as a newbie. And each little tidbit is linked to a resource which I hope you will find supportive.
1. Seek Your Passion!
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 The Passion Driven Classroom by Angela Maiers and Amy Sandvold. It's all about the role passion plays in our work, our lives and our classrooms. Grab a copy and take your time this year to read it.
2. Be a 21st Century Educator
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.
3. Build Relationships
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 article 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.
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 check out the Collaborators Wanted Group here on Edutopia.org to get some inspiration.
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. A year ago 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 Teacher Mentoring Project was born! I urge you to seek out this group on the EduPLN.com community. Many amazing educators from around the globe are available to support and mentor you through the first years of your practice and beyond!
7. Ask for Help
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?
8. Be Willing to Grow
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...
9. Blog for Yourself
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 two 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, and the "Blogs I Follow" on my home page, to get a feel for what others are doing with blogs. 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!
10. Blog with Your Students
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 sight, 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. I'm happy to connect you to them so you can ask questions and collaborate. Give it some thought...
11. Make Time for R & R
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? Joan Young started a blog fueled by this idea: "The goal is for us to help keep ourselves motivated and dedicated to living our healthiest, best lives." Check out this blog for ideas on how to be sure you make the time to refuel yourself -- and not just with coffee!
12. Start a Wiki
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.
13. Use Skype
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 check out Skype in the Classroom for awesome ideas, projects, and collaborations!
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.
15. Participate in Twitter Chats
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 (Wednesdays, 8pm ET, #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 Connections Group here on Edutopia, 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
The YouTube channel in the link above was created for new teachers, by me. It's a collaborative with several educators in Canada. 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.
18. Participate in Free Online Professional Development
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 an online conference looks like. And research other opportunities on your own. Let us know what you think about the idea of free online webinars!
19. Journal About Your Experience
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, or 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!
20. Don't Be Afraid to Fail
"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 be a part of The 30 Goals Challenge. For this challenge I created 30 blog posts on various subjects that speak to the heart of what it means to be an educator. As I close this "20 Tidbits for New Teachers" post, I leave you with the message of goal #13: Learn from your mistakes.
Let me know what you think. All the best to you on your journey!
There are so many more awesome "tidbits" that can be shared with new teachers. What would be one of yours?
Professional Development is a life-long learning process that involves different activities including individual progress, continuing education, inservice education, peer collaboration, study groups, and peer coaching or mentoring. The importance of professional development lays in the fact that it is closely related to the overall quality of education and students achievements. Teachers who stop learning and suffice themselves with the curriculum content soon turn into hard working students only a step above their actual students.
"A few years ago, I came across some interesting research by cognitive psychologist Ronald T. Kellogg. He claimed that the mark of an expert writer is not years of practice or a hefty vocabulary, but rather an awareness of one’s audience. This made sense to me, and I wondered if it were true in other disciplines as well."
Coaches operate with an underlying assumption that giving advice to others undermines the confidence and self-worth of others. Others don’t need to be fixed. In teaching we need to move to exactly this stance in order to foster creativity in our students–to allow our students the choice, control, novelty and challenge that builds their creativity.
Without the assumption that our students are already competent, imaginative, and ready to burst forth with regular exhibitions of novel and valuable ideas and products, we are limiting their creative capacities before they’ve even had a chance to discover them.
We know today’s students will have to create their jobs, not look for jobs. They will compete with others around the globe. They will have jobs replaced by outsourcing and technology if their skills are easily replicated or duplicated. To succeed, students will need creativity, communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and entrepreneurship.
They will need to be able to adapt to change, be resilient and able to work effectively in a variety of environments.
Everyone struggles with keeping their attitude positive, even people in leadership roles. The pressure of leadership, personal issues, and life in general will impact your mood, energy and attitude. And, attitude matters more than you probably realize. When left unchecked your attitude can damage your team.
Without saying a word your attitude permeates from your skin. Even when you think you are hiding it and that no one sees they often do. Here are 3 ways a leader’s attitude impacts the team.
Your attitude sets their attitude
Attitude is contagious especially when you are in a leadership role. Positive or negative your team will soon adopt your attitude. Over time, your attitude sets the tone for the employees and also indicates what is and is not acceptable.
Even when you don’t want your attitude to impact the organization it will.
Research shows that Intelligence is Malleable It’s also important to know that the growth mindset has been receiving scientific confirmation from cognitive psychology and from neuroscience. For example, neuroscientists tracked students during their teenage years. For many students, they found substantial changes in performance on verbal and non-verbal IQ tests. Using neuroimaging, they found corresponding changes in the density of neurons in the relevant brain areas for these students. In other words, an increase in neuronal connections in the brain accompanied an increase in IQ-test performance, while a decrease in neuronal connections in the brain accompanied a decrease in IQ-test performance.
"Beth Holland shared her presentation “Used Effectively or Simply Used” from the ASCD conference 2015 as a slide deck via Twitter.
The message from her slides caught my attention… I kept thinking about the questions Beth proposes we ask when we walk into a classroom:
* Are students engaged? * Are students creating artifacts as evidence of their own understanding? * Are students constructing their own knowledge? * Are students sharing their learning? * Are student reflecting on their learning?"
For education to evolve in the 21st Century, it will take teachers and administrators working alongside one another in true collaboration. This is why Professional Learning Communities, or PLCs, have become so crucial in designing systematic, school-wide strategies dedicated to helping students achieve their potential.
A PLC is a group of educators who work collaboratively to ensure the academic success of students, then reverse engineer a way for that success to be achieved. It’s about seeking and sharing learning rather than merely teaching. Teachers and staff assess school practices that have proved to be successful in boosting student learning, and then apply those practices in the classroom, and—perhaps most importantly—hold themselves accountable for results.
The resources included in this toolkit are intended to help you and your team meet the challenges presented by today’s educational landscape and—in the process—elevate learning not only for your students, but for yourselves. TitleDescriptionFile PLC Advocates and Studies
Expert endorsements and academic studies that support Professional Learning Communities in schools.
PLC Advocates and Studies.pdf PLC Peer Observation
Structured peer observations help teachers improve learning for all students.
PLC Peer Observation.pdf How Professional Learning Communities Impact Student Success
A Professional Learning Community gets teachers working together as members of high-performing, collaborative teams focused on the improvement of student learning.
How Professional Learning Communities Impact Student Success.pdf The Changing Role of Teachers
New tasks and challenges call for developing new abilities and setting aside old habits.
Changing Roles with PLCs.pdf Components of a Successful PLC
A comprehensive checklist that details what all thriving Professional Learning Communities have in common.
Components of a Successful PLC.pdf Building Leadership
Collaboration is an effective strategy for improving student learning. The role of the principal is critical in creating a collaborative environment, as all change flows through the principal‘s office.
Building Leadership.pdf PLC Teams
A PLC initiative might meet with resistance. So why not simply utilize existing team structures and focus on what effective teams do to help all kids learn?
Teams.pdf What is a Professional Learning Community?
It’s a focus on learning rather than teaching, with teachers working collaboratively and holding themselves accountable for the results. Learn more.
What is a Professional Learning Community?.pdf Mentoring and PLCs
Mentoring isn’t just for students anymore. Professional Learning Communities can act as dynamic support systems for teachers.
Mentoring.pdf The School District as a PLC
The PLC concept can extend beyond teachers and schools when district leaders become emphatic about district-wide learning goals.
School District as a PLC.pdf Strategies for Principals to Implement Effective Professional Learning Communities
A checklist for principals in creating a culture of continuous learning for their schools.
Strategies for Principals to Implement Effective Professional Learning Communities.pdf Developing a Professional Learning Community
How does a principal convince a staff that implementing a Professional Learning Community is worthy of their time and effort? Find out how.
If you’re mentoring new teachers and observe that their classes lack interacting or engaging activities, here are some suggestions that I have found easy to implement and wildly successful. Many new teachers erroneously believe that elementary, middle school and even high school students learn in the same manner as adults. They don’t. These ideas might help them develop other ways of reaching young learners. None of the ideas in this blog are my creations. They’re ideas I learned from workshops, books, and other colleagues, but they are ideas that I have tried in my classroom and found effective.
Whatever the answer, the question should not be confused with a related but far different query: What is management in curriculum? Yet, I suspect that few people with curricular responsibilities appreciate how different the questions and answers are – and why real leadership is rare yet sorely needed now.
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