Times change. The advice experienced teachers offer early-career teachers should evolve, too.
Some trusted tips are timeless, but others can be shaped by the ever-changing K-12 education landscape. In 2021, we asked experienced educators on Twitter to share their best tips for new teachers; this past month, in response to a second query, they added more advice to the list.
Find support in veteran teachers
Mentors matter. They can make a substantial difference in helping early-career educators find their footing and encouraging them to stay. In 2021, Education Week Staff Writer Elizabeth Heubeck wrote about the most effective components of mentorships to benefit new teachers.
Among experienced teachers, former mentees, and current mentors’ answers: Ensuring that mentors and mentees stay in close contact, that mentors are “impartial” and “guide from the side,” and that new teachers choose their own goals.
The article cited a 2015 study on teacher retention and mobility, which found that a very high percentage of first-year teachers who had mentors—more than 9 in 10—returned to the classroom for a second year.
EdWeek readers responding agreed with the importance of mentorship:
“Seek out a mentor teacher now.”
— Ann F.
“Find veteran teachers that care. They can be your greatest treasures and cheerleaders!”
Check out what characteristics our social media followers say comprise the best mentors.
A 2022 nationally representative survey of teachers found that the typical teacher works about 54 hours a week, promptingconversations about “quiet quitting” and not working outside of contract hours.
Many commenters pointed to learning how to set solid boundaries as an essential skill for early-career teachers.
“Work will be there tomorrow.”
— Mark W.
“Take the mental health day.”
— Megan H.
“It’s ok to say no.”
— Evan H.
Set yourself up for success
“Know your professional worth.”
“Always document, know your rights.”
“Start saving for retirement now.”
Keep a positive mindset
Keeping an optimistic outlook can be helpful for anyone struggling to push through those tough days.
But educators should make sure that doesn’t tip over into toxic positivity —or the papering over of legitimate feelings of anxiety, stress, or despair with saccharine, out-of-the-box phrases like, “look at the good things you’ve got.” Thatdoesn’t promote resilience in children or adults, said Marc Brackett, the director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence in a 2021 EdWeek article.
“Do not take anything personally.”
— Cindy H.
Look for the good.
“You will learn. Have patience.”
— Dan W.
“One day at a time.”
— Missy L.
Respect your team
From paraprofessionals to bus drivers, schools rely on many different roles to run smoothly. It can be incredibly rewarding and helpful to connect with colleagues both inside and outside the classroom.
“Be nice to support staff.”
— Veda M.
“MVPs are the secretary and custodian!”
“Treat all staff as equals.”
— Jenny G.
Remember your why
“It won’t get any easier. It will get better, though, because you will get better,” wrote Justin Minkel in a 2019 Education Week Opinion essay.
Teaching is not an easy profession, but showing yourself some grace, and remembering what drove you to teach can help make it a rewarding one.
“Always remember why you teach.”
— Kasey K.