- As a new school year approaches with a full-time return to in-person learning for many students and educators nationwide, ensuring new teachers have support and understand there's no one strategy for success will also be critical, Jason DeHart, an assistant professor of reading education at Appalachian State University's Reich College of Education, writes for Edutopia.
- New teachers will need positive mentors who are interested in building others and can "see the beauty in the mess," he writes, noting that focusing on moments of success can also help new educators identify where they still have room for growth. He also suggests saving positive letters and notes from students and families, as well as reflecting on the best moments from each day.
- Additionally, DeHart advises remaining humble and embracing opportunities to grow, recognizing no teacher is awesome at the start of their career and even veterans have room for growth. Finally, he suggests remaining flexible in planning — the value of which was highlighted by pandemic disruption — and remembering the importance of sharing stories and honoring narratives to build empathy, compassion and context.
As with many fields, the first year on the job for an educator can be daunting. A variety of challenges can accompany any classroom, and taking on the responsibility of guiding the growth and success of a room full of students can seem a Herculean task.
Over the past 16 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has made entering the classroom all the more intimidating for new educators. The sudden disruption of traditional in-person learning models and an overnight shift to remote learning required may to adjust to a totally new approach to teaching they may not have been trained for — though this also notably placed them in the same boat as many veteran educators, as well.
Suffice to say, it was a period of "aha" moments in classrooms nationwide, as a panel of educators recently detailed in a virtual session during this year's ISTE conference.
For Parvinder Singh, an AP chemistry teacher in Texas' Arlington Independent School District, the shift to virtual created a recognition that he had to embrace flexibility and "come up with ways to really give the students a sense of self-initiative."
After recognizing that he often gave the same lengthy explanations to answer the same questions, he adopted a program called UWorld to allow students to develop autonomy by seeking explanations for concepts or wrong answers through that platform. This additionally freed him up to provide deeper assistance to students who needed it.
Tim Smyth, a social studies teacher in Pennsylvania's Wissahickon School District, noted the importance of having ongoing conversations from the beginning of the year on, focused on what students want to learn about and what they’re concerned about in the world around them. This information can then be used to tweak lessons in ways that meet those needs and interests.
The fall semester will present educators new and experienced with an additional challenge: reacclimation to the classroom. Along with academic needs, some students may need to readjust to the standard school schedule, and others still may require additional support for emotional needs or even behavioral crises due to the toll of the pandemic and other factors.
To better support teachers heading into another year where the COVID-19 pandemic looms, veteran educator and administrator Delia Racines writes for Edutopia that school leaders should offer affirmation and celebrate success, narrow focus to avoid information overload, recognize fears are legitimate, and make sure teachers have opportunities to express concerns about work and health across the school community.