The hiring of a new teacher is an exciting time for both the new teacher and the administration. This teacher has been chosen to best fill a position so he/she is feeling motivated to do his/her very best to educate his/her students with unceasing dedication. The administration has worked hard to select the candidate that will provide a welcoming environment of learning—emotionally, socially, and academically—for the students.
Everyone is hopeful for the future! But is there a plan in place to help transition the new teacher to success in this new classroom or school or district? Without a plan, this learning process for the new teacher is often overwhelming and stressful, which is no way to begin such a positive opportunity. Creating a plan is where the work begins to provide an atmosphere of support and encouragement that will foster the best transition for the new teacher.
A comprehensive plan for new teachers should include training on the school philosophy and operations and grade-level materials and resources, as well as regular and ongoing mentoring by a mentor teacher and administrator. Establishing a well-thought-out plan will support the new teacher to grow and adapt to all the newness that comes with being a new teacher, so that they can provide a comprehensive education that fosters success in their students. Isn’t student success the end result of all of the planning in schools?
Every school has its own culture that is determined by its philosophy and educational values. Hopefully, this has been communicated openly to the teacher in the candidate phase while determining if the fit is good for both parties. Assuming both the new teacher and administrator are in agreement, the operational procedures become important to train new employees so there are no misunderstandings. Many of these things come under the heading of Human Resources, in terms of employee expectations regarding working hours, professional dress, benefits, time off, etc. Emergency management training addresses when there are fire drills, lockdowns, and weather emergencies. School/student information systems are another crucial area for training. Knowing how to submit attendance, locate parent contact info, identify student allergies, and post grades are necessary for accountability and safety. Understanding the policies and procedures regarding parent communication, grading, parent/teacher conferences, absences and tardies, and absent work are important for a new teacher to know to enforce these school policies with their students and parents. All of this preparedness is crucial to helping a new teacher feel supported and ready for any situation that can arise.
As if this is not enough to assimilate, the new teacher needs to learn all of the different resources for subject area academics to be competent to teach from the predetermined resources. This can take hours of personal and paid time using digital resources while being trained in person, virtually, or independently. Every publisher has its own platform and login quirks that are not always user-friendly or compatible with your technology. The school’s technology is another challenging area for training. Knowing how to display content for whole-class instruction or troubleshoot student device and streaming issues requires step-by-step instruction so that a new teacher is not fumbling through every new resource, tech-based or not. Needless to say, this is a time-intensive portion of the teacher’s training that needs to be managed efficiently.
Mentoring is one of the best ways to build supportive connections with new teachers. Peer mentor teachers that are seasoned at that particular school can present real-life training in practical ways since they are familiar with the school operations, technology, academic resources, students, and faculty. Helping the new teacher to juggle the time constraints by establishing priorities can reassure the new teacher that progress is being made. Scheduling specific training times with written directions and modeling the use of resources can put the new teacher’s mind at ease that they will assimilate all they have to learn in due time. Less formal conversations are valuable to offer support and answer questions. Validating the new teacher’s progress is essential to acknowledge all of the new teacher’s efforts to adapt to all of the learning.
Administrator mentoring is equally important as any new employee seeks the approval of their superiors. These regularly scheduled conversations should address frequent administrative observations and concerns. Open communication can build the relationship so the new teacher is professionally guided toward fulfilling the potential for success that caused the teacher to land the job. Administrators are visionaries for who will work best in their school. Mentoring is surely a key component of surrounding this new teacher with positivity to push through the challenges of being trained.
As we all know, the best-laid plans do not always turn out as planned. Plans can be derailed for a myriad of reasons, many of which are unavoidable. The time allotted for a plan is often unrealistic, so be flexible. Teachers and administrators do not have an abundance of free time to thoroughly train teachers before the school year begins, depending on the hire date. There is a great deal for a teacher to do to prepare the classroom, organize academic resources, establish classroom management systems, and much more. Add comprehensive training on to all that… a new teacher must be managed with kindness. Adjust expectations that allow growth without adding stress. Set timetables that are reasonable for the new teacher. Above all, set a tone of growth with grace.
Validate your new teacher and continue to believe in the reasons he/she was hired to educate students. With all of this training and support, this new teacher will surely thrive, as will the students. A valued teacher will surely produce happy students who want to learn after watching their teacher do their best to learn as well.