And it was a mess.
We’ve been starting school here in America for hundreds of years, and we still can’t get it right. Parents are left out of the communication loop; therefore, students are not prepared. New Teachers and new administration are not supported and end up in tears within the first few days.
Texts I’ve received this week…
“If crying at school was acceptable, I’d be crying right now.”
“This is so hard. How come I don’t feel prepared.”
Why does school starting cause such panic and strong emotions?
I. Don’t. Know.
I do know that in many schools there is extremely high turnover and the average experience of the teachers is under 5 years. We have the blind leading the blind. What can we do? Here’s my starting point. It’s not comprehensive and it definitely needs work, but here’s where I am today…
1. Support new teachers and administration. Just because a person graduated from college (even with a teaching degree) doesn’t mean they are 100% ready to embark on this journey alone. They need those of us with experience to share information, to share strategies, to brainstorm lists, to use our connections to build a network of veteran teachers that will catch them when they fall.
2. Teach our pre-service teachers that they are NOT in this job alone, and they won’t be perfect. We need to share our missteps, mistakes, and failures, so that when they mess up (cause we all do), they can get back up. That tomorrow is another day. Resiliency is a necessary skill. We have to learn to screw up and not give up; screw up and stick with it. And by stick with it I mean learning from the screw up, and keep working and trying new things.
3. Grace. Enough said, right? This relates to #2, yet I want to explicitly say– Everyone deserves grace, including yourself. We have to learn to give ourselves the grace we give to our students.
4. Work to find a balance. Teaching is hard and important work. But we can’t let it consume our young teachers’ lives. We have to work towards life balance. They need to hang out with friends, have a beer, go for a run, enjoy life away from school….
With this partial list, I’m signing off.
What do you do to support new teachers and administrators?