Education Opinion

Be an MVP in Your Rookie Years: 8 Tips to Support the Journey

By Lisa Dabbs — February 16, 2018 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Hello, New Teacher community! Christine and I hope that you’ve had a great week and that you are looking forward to the weekend. Today we thought we’d take a break from our current conversations to share a guest post from a friend, Michele Hill. Michele is an amazing high school teacher whose daughter is a new teacher and she’s crafted this post as a support to her and all of you. We hope you enjoy it!

You know that old saying, “if I only knew then what I know now” life would be (fill in the blank). Experience makes us wiser. We wade through the water, sometimes swimming upstream and often fighting strong currents, until we come out on the other side of the river—surely tired and thankful that we made it across. We wish that we knew some tidbits of helpful information that would have made our journey a little easier. That’s where the experience of a veteran teacher comes in!

After 25 years of teaching, I’m going to let you in on eight tried and true suggestions that can make your first years as a teacher a heck of a lot easier.

  1. Listen. Listen to just about anyone (except the Negative Nellies) who wants to share ideas, suggestions or caveats. It may be overwhelming, and certainly not all useful, but it’s worth hearing people out and building trust with your new colleagues. After a while, you’ll quickly know which advice is sound and who you can trust.
  2. Get to know people’s names, students, and staff. Knowing a person’s name is powerful—it says I see you. With students, this is not optional, it’s a must! And not just your students, you should attempt to know as many other students’ names as possible. It builds a positive foundation and removes anonymity. At the middle and high school level, this is critical when encountering students in the hall and cafeteria.
  3. It’s who you know. In any school, the people behind the scenes making things run smoothly. The secretarial, maintenance and cafeteria staff are people who can help make your professional life easier. Build solid relationships with these incredible people, you won’t be sorry!
  4. Buddy up. Find that one person who you can trust as your mentor—and follow their advice. Search out the person who knows the ropes and is passionate about their craft. Ask, ask and ask. Don’t be afraid to solicit help from these superstars; they will lead down the right path.
  5. Give yourself a break. Not every lesson you teach will be amazing and not every lesson plan will be perfect. Remember, you are new and your administrators do not expect perfection. Do your best, that’s all they can ask of you. If you feel as though you’re struggling, ask for suggestions and ideas; that’s what your administrators are there for, to support you and help you develop into an awesome teacher.
  6. Balance is key. Don’t over volunteer to do additional activities that will take away from your main obligation as a teacher, but make sure that you are seen at school events supporting your colleagues and students.
  7. Be firm, fair and consistent. You can smile before Christmas, but remember that it’s hard to reel classroom management back in after it has gotten away from you. Start off with a firm, but fair approach with non-negotiables and consistent consequences for inappropriate behavior.
  8. Plan in advance, but be flexible. Things will come up, schedules will change; don’t sweat it. There will be time to make up missed time. Don’t reinvent the wheel, save yourself valuable time. There is an abundance of great resources floating around; you can use that time saved for the many other obligations thrust upon new teachers.

As you consider these tips remember that relationships are the foundation upon which everything else is built. Take the time to build positive relationships with students, staff, and members of the administration. With the right people pulling for you and supporting you, you’ll enjoy much success in your career. You’re changing the world one day at a time—you are a teacher. And in case you don’t hear this often enough—Thank You for All You Do!

Michele Hill is a passionate educator in her 25th year of teaching-students first, curriculum second. Throughout her career as an educator, Michele has been a champion for struggling and impoverished students. Michele has been a guest blogger for ASCD Inservice, McGraw Hill, Principal Leadership and ASCD Road Tested. You can follow Michele on Twitter @HillMrispo or visit her blog: spiritededucator.blogspot.com

The opinions expressed in The New Teacher Chat: Advice, Tips, and Support are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.