When Roxanna Elden, a former teacher and the author of See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers, created an email subscription series of support for teachers in 2015, the response was overwhelming. Over the course of about two months, more than 5,000 teachers subscribed to receive her daily reflections about expectations, failure, and encouragement for the classroom.
Now, Elden’s latest email project is aimed directly at new teachers who are hungry for practical tips and advice before the school year starts. The School Year Starter Kit is a free series of emails focusing on how to prepare for what may well be one of the most overwhelming moments of the school year: the first day on the job.
Over three days, the emails—sent on a rolling basis after teachers sign up at their convenience—will offer advice for classroom rules and seating, first-day lesson plans, and a checklist for the 10 days leading up to the start of the year. There is also a FAQ section where Elden will answer reader-submitted questions about common concerns.
All of the tips are drawn from Elden’s personal experience and reflection. Teacher orientations provide an overwhelming amount of information, but often do not touch on the logistics of the first day of school, Elden said in an email to Education Week Teacher. Her goal is “to provide an all-in-one-place resource that would help focus on the few, basic things most likely to help [teachers] get the first day right.”
Given the current teaching environment, with a short supply of new teachers in a number of states, first-year educators’ need for support is evident. The societal ideal of teachers as “superheroes” contributes to a climate of unhealthy habits and unrealistic expectations, as teachers learn to always put others’ needs first, Elden said in a January interview. Nearly 30 percent of teachers leave the profession or change schools within five years, according to a 2015 report from the National Center of Education Statistics.
Elden, who was a teacher for 11 years, most recently in high school, now travels the country to provide training and professional development workshops full-time, with a specific focus on support and orientations for new teachers. The starter kit, she said, grew out of this work. (Her first email service, the Disillusionment Power Pack, is also still available for subscription.)
“The three things I most needed during my own first year—and couldn’t find—were humor, honesty, and practical advice,” Elden wrote in an email. “Those are the three threads that now run through all of my work. I think the response shows how many teachers out there are looking for those same three things.”
Teachers can sign up for the service on Elden’s website.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.