Quick Formative Assessment: How are our New Teachers Doing?
This is typically the time of year that teachers come up for air. The rush of the beginning of school is over. We’ve established our routines and have built relationships with students and families. We’ve survived conference week, and we’re getting into a groove with teaching and learning. We may even have begun looking forward to the holiday season. . .
It’s important at this time of year to take a quick look around to make sure all our new teachers have crossed that metaphorical November 1st finish line alongside us. In the adrenaline haze of making it ourselves, it can be easy to overlook a straggler bogged down in the weeds of planning, grading, or the overwhelming feelings of stress that are a right of passage into this challenging profession.
Anyone need a hand—a cup of water offered raceside to power them over the line?
This is the perfect time of year to offer some encouragement to the newest members of our profession. This job is incredibly rewarding, but we also know how tough it can be. A kind word from a colleague can make all the difference to a new teacher who might not yet have found his or her stride.
A simple thank you might be just what a new teacher needs:
Thank you for working hard for kids every day. You’re busting your you-know-what and we see you! What lucky students you have!
Thank you for asking questions and being so curious about teaching and learning! Education needs teachers like you who care so much.
Thank you for being a valuable member of our professional community—we appreciate you!
In addition to noticing teachers who might need a positive word, how might encouraging new teachers to join a professional organization like CCIRA support them from the very beginning of their careers? Consider the burst of energy you get every year from the annual conference in February. . . Registration opens today—perhaps you might encourage a new teacher to attend with you. We have special sessions and a free luncheon for new teachers at the conference—check out sessions marked “Early Career Network.” Or if your local council has an event coming up, you might reach out and personally invite a new teacher to join you.
Think about what you need when the stresses are outweighing the rewards, and anticipate that new teachers will often experience a disproportionate amount of stress.
As a new teacher, I valued (and still value) those colleagues who took the time to mentor and encourage me. We are a learning profession, and it’s in our nature to support each other as learners. Sometimes it’s the littlest thing—some positive feedback, a thank you, a note or care package in someone’s mailbox. . . an invitation to a professional learning experience that is guaranteed to inspire
(cough cough, like the CCIRA Conference)
. Let’s be mindful of the experience of new teachers and reach out to them—now is the perfect time.