In the world of education, teachers are always on the lookout for new techniques and strategies that can make their jobs easier. Many teachers will tell you that they're constantly learning from colleagues, administrators, and even students. But what about new teachers? How can established educators support those just starting out in education? Here are a few ideas for how to help build up your newest colleagues:
Be ready to mentor.
Mentoring is a valuable way to support new teachers. Mentors can help new teachers by being available to answer questions, helping them set goals and reflect on their practice, and modelling good instructional leadership through their own actions.
For example: You could meet with your mentee once a month to discuss how they are implementing the skills that they’ve learned through coaching or training. You might also be able to lend an ear when things aren’t going well—and offer practical advice on how they could improve in the future—or simply listen as they voice their frustrations (or successes) with teaching.
Watch and learn.
● Watch and learn. Observe the teacher in action, especially before you meet them. Watch how they interact with their students and the other staff members in their school or school district. Be aware of the differences between your own teaching style, philosophy, and personality traits when it comes to working with students.
● Observe the teacher in a classroom setting by attending classes and asking questions about what they are doing that is successful or not so successful for example: “I noticed that you have introduced a new concept today; can I see an example?” or “What was that strategy you used for student participation?” You want to make sure that if there is disagreement on any point, it does not become personal--this will only lead to frustration on both sides!
● Observe the teacher in professional development settings as well as meetings involving colleagues where possible (and feasible). This will give tremendous insight into how well this person works within their environment--both personally and professionally!
Observe the classroom community.
The first step to supporting new teachers is observing how the teacher interacts with their students. You can't help a teacher if you aren't aware of what's actually happening in their classroom, so try to make sure that you're paying attention to more than just what students are doing.
A good way to observe a community is by sitting in on lessons and observing how they go down. If the class is working on group projects or group activities, pay attention not only to who's involved but also how they interact with each other. Are they respectful or disrespectful? Do they respect each other? You'll also want to see if the teacher seems organized with their lesson plan or if it's being changed on the fly based on student behaviour (which isn't always bad).
You should also be checking out how much eye contact your new colleague makes with his or her students—this tells you something about both his comfort level and ability as a leader in front of them all those people!
Give specific feedback.
● Give specific feedback.
● Make it timely.
● Make it constructive.
● Make it actionable.
● Focus on the learner’s needs, not the teacher’s needs.
Be available for advice.
When a new teacher asks for advice, it's important to offer help by providing some useful information. But you can also use the opportunity as an opportunity to build trust and friendship with your colleague. Sometimes, simply being available is enough to make a difference in their day.
So when you see a need, don't be afraid of offering advice—but do so in a way that doesn't make the new teacher feel overwhelmed or incompetent! Think about how much experience you have with the situation and what kind of guidance would be most valuable for them at this stage in their career.
Encourage reflection and goal-setting.
One of the most important things you can do to support new teachers is encourage reflection and goal-setting. That's because while they may be comfortable with the content they teach, they're still trying to figure out how best to implement it in their classroom.
Take a look at these activities:
● Asking them questions about what worked well during their first few months of teaching can help them find ways they might improve in future lessons.
● Encouraging them to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses as a teacher also helps provide insight into areas where they could use more training or experience. If you notice that your colleague has strong skills when it comes to creating lesson plans but struggles when it comes out in front of class, for example, encourage him or her to seek out professional development opportunities that will help build up those weaker areas (like public speaking).
New teachers offer a fresh perspective and, by supporting them, you are increasing the likelihood of new teaching practices being implemented in your school, as well.
New teachers offer a fresh perspective and, by supporting them, you are increasing the likelihood of new teaching practices being implemented in your school, as well. As you get to know your new colleague and see how they work with students, begin brainstorming ways you can work together to improve the classroom. The best way to do this is through communication. Talk with them about their ideas; what's working? What isn't working? Are there certain pieces of curriculum that need updating or more time spent on certain concepts? By supporting your colleagues' efforts at improving their practice and making suggestions for changes that could help make their class more effective for students, both yours and theirs will benefit from these discussions.
New teachers can be the most challenging to support. They’re often nervous, uncertain, and inexperienced. But they are also eager to learn and willing to try new things—always an excellent combination! By showing them that you have their back, you’ll be able to create a classroom community where everyone feels safe taking risks and trying new approaches.