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Learning Technology & Tech Observations by Dr. Helen Teague


Do you have any advice for new Teachers?

keepcalm teach on

Every year, U.S. schools hire more than 200,000 new teachers for that first day of class. By the time summer rolls around, at least 22,000 have quit. Even those who make it beyond the trying first year aren’t likely to stay long: about 30 percent of new teachers flee the profession after just three years, and more than 45 percent leave after five years.
Source: http://www.edutopia.org/schools-out


My daughter will begin her first year teaching  7th grade in just two weeks. I do not want these statistics to apply to her.

A tenth of teachers who began teaching in 2007/2008  only lasted one year before they quit, according to a new study by the National Center for Education Statistics. Teachers who worked under the supervision of a mentor or who made salaries of more than $40,000 were less likely to drop out over the same period. Source

Do you have any advice for her and all of the other new teachers beginning their first year in a matter of weeks?
Please feel free to comment here and include advice/quotes/anecdotes/links/ideas/programs…anything is helpful!

An Additional Source of information on teacher retention


22 Responses to Do you have any advice for new Teachers?

  1. Cath says:

    I taught middle school for 35 years and loved it! I would tell any new teacher to: start with confidence. Classroom management is key. Do not hesitate to call parents and institute consequences for inappropriate behavior. Students will be relentless unless they believe there will be consequences! Don’t be afraid to ask veteran teachers for advice. Stay clear of those with a negative attitude – they will suck you in and kill your enthusiasm! And, it is OK to smile, just don’t be a wimp!

  2. Bill Bass says:

    I was one of those teachers who left teaching but I did it after my 7th year. Luckily, I went back to it. As I work with new teachers now, I encourage them to find someone or something to be inspired by. Yes, we are absolutely here for the kids, but we are also in this for ourselves and our own sense of accomplishment in helping students. I think finding that personal inspiration is an important part of being a teacher so that you may inspire others.

  3. Helen Teague says:

    From a colleague at PBS TeacherLine:
    I’ve been “in the 8th grade” for many years and find that the trick is to remember that the students are truly still “little kids” in spirit and want to be treated that way in many respects, but you need to learn when to treat them as adults as well, especially as the year moves on. Middle school is a tough grade level, but having fun acting like a middle schooler yourself at times makes it easier!

    I would also tell her to listen to the students and when she keeps hearing about a teacher that they really like, AND learn from at the same time, use them as a role model. allow the students to be part of the learning process, act as we do as facilitators whenever possible, and keep the lecture to a minimum!

    But, most importantly at this age group – make your expectations clear and keep things consistant whenever possible. A great tool at this age group is to have students repeat, either one part/per student or in its entirety by one student, the directions and expectations after they are given.

  4. Helen Teague says:

    From a colleague in a state educational group:
    To thine own self be……”

  5. Helen Teague says:

    From another colleague in a state educational group: Model your expectations/procedures over and over and when you think you have modeled enough model some more. Most discipline issues occur because our expectations are not clear.

  6. Helen Teague says:

    Along the lines of making expectations clear, here is a great blog post

  7. Mary White says:

    Reread Harry Wong’s First Days of School and use it. I had to learn from years of experience what he sums up in a few chapters: that establishing your routines at the beginning is more important than your fabulous content, and that establishing relationships with your students is more important than The Common Core and Higher Order Thinking. When I began I jumped right into my creative, idealistic content, not taking the time to establish routines and relationships. The results were disastrous.

  8. Helen Teague says:

    Thank you Bill, Cath, and Mary…great suggestions!!! These will help not only my daughter but other new teachers as well!

  9. Helen Teague says:

    From a colleague at PBS: “Read anything & everything from Harry Wong! I was given this book & lucky enough to hear him speak my first year of teaching, and everything he said has rung true.”

  10. Helen Teague says:

    Great advice from a PBS colleague: “Middle schoolers want consistency, fairness and honesty. They can see thru anything less. They want order and firm expectations although it seems like this is definitely not what they are seeking. They are, after all, beings of contradiction since they are newbie teenagers! New teachers would do well to seek out a mentor teacher if they are not assigned one; and if an assigned one is not helping, seek out someone that the students seem to like and respect. See if that teacher can be observed during prep time, etc., so you can find out what their secrets seem to be. And always remember…the first year is the year of living-at-school! Carve out down time though…but you’ll never have another year like your first year and that is not all bad, it is just the way it is. Good luck to your daughter!After 32 years teaching middle school science, I never wanted to teach another grade level or grade band. They kept me laughing…”

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  12. Helen Teague says:

    From a veteran educator/colleague: Middle school is where my heart is. I hope she loves it as much as I did! My best advice for her is to find support early so she has somewhere to go when she needs it. A colleague, principal, (you)……someone who can be her go-to when she is in need. I’d also advise her to spend a day or two just getting to know her kids…taking that time (as you know) will make a world of difference as the year goes on. When troubles come up…if the kids respect and like her…they can handle anything together.

  13. Helen Teague says:

    Jean Haverstick (National Professional Development Specialist at CTB/McGraw-Hill) wrote:
    “Set rules that encourage learning and enforce them equitably and compassionately. Remember that each student has potential and, with careful consideration/preparation on your part, they will rise up to meet the learning challenges you present to them. Use the educational resources in and out of your room to differentiate and stimulate the education process. Enjoy what you do; passion for teaching translates into passionate learning. Have a great year!”

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  15. Helen Teague says:

    Very timely advice from a caring PBS colleague: “When things get rough and she might become discouraged, tell her to remember that sometimes children act like children because they ARE children. Be the adult in the classroom and consider possible explanations for certain behaviors before taking action. Be fair and consistent, and above all, model learning as a life-long habit.

    I saw my own daughter through her first year, and now she has her Master’s degree and is working towards a principal’s certification. I’m glad she has seen the education field as an exciting career, not just a job.

    Best wishes to your daughter and to you for the support you will be giving her.”

  16. Helen Teague says:

    And, reflecting on her 37-year teaching career another PBS colleague advises,
    “After 37 years doing mostly 7th- 9th grade math, I can say:

    Contact all the parents within the first month of school. Make phone calls, send post cards with a positive comment about the student, send emails. Always make those contacts positive. If there is a problem, the parent will support you more often than not.
    If the school does not have a way for you to stay in touch with parents and students, set up an email contact group to send out daily info about homework, projects, and assessments. You do one mass email or use a website where you post everything.
    Go in with a short list of expectations. Stay away from using the term ‘rules’.

    I used these:

    Come to class prepared to work— explained as bring your materials (tell them exactly what to bring), get a good night’s sleep, have something to eat in the morning, know that your job is to learn
    Show respect to earn respect—to everyone from the teacher to the other students by speaking kindly and keeping your hands to yourself

    Then follow up with a short list of consequences. Such as:

    first failure to meet expectations = one-to-one conversation asking about what I witnessed (let them tell their story) and what I want to see changed and how we will accomplish those changes
    second failure to meet expectations = call to parents to ask for their support from home
    third = after school detention if your school allows (be sure to notify parents, then call to let them know when you released the student)
    if there is a fourth = send to the principal with the record of the interventions you have used to date

    Find someone who will listen when you just need to vent. Be careful that the person can be relied upon to keep your comments confidential.
    Do not post anything about ‘school’ on any social network unless it is something you would say at a public meeting…such as to the school board.”

  17. Helen Teague says:

    Ladd Skelly, ELearning Educator and Innovator watched my daughter grow up during conferences with Classroom Connect. He emailed this advice that emphasizes preparedness:
    “Here is some quick advice for your daughter. After 17 years of teaching, I would say, ‘You can never overprepare especially if you are dealing with technology. Stuff happens. Be ready for the unexpected. Also, pay particular attention to your classroom management skills. Be creative and be consistent. All great teachers have excellent management skills. The easiest way to manage is to keep the students engaged in their lessons. BTW Textbooks are not so engaging. ;-)”

  18. Helen Teague says:

    Mina Bryan-Lightsey suggests, “Teach procedures from day one. If you desire a certain behavior, set the stage and reveal exactly to students how that situation is to be handled. MODEL, MODEL, MODEL…this is the way we do this. Providing relationship and relevancy to the need for procedures and rules. There is a huge difference between discipline and management.”

  19. Helen Teague says:

    From Lori, a colleague in our Facebook Technology Group page: Advice: Always ask yourself “Is this decision what is best for my students? Or ask, Is this how kids learn?” If you ask yourself these questions you will never go wrong. Think back to when you were a kid. When were you bored? What did you love? Oh and another thing that is very important:You gotta love kids to do this job, if you don’t love the kids, or don’t love them anymore, its okay to step away and let someone else do this job. The world is meant for all different types of people, some of them were meant to teach and some not, and either way it doesnt make you any less of a person if you realize that this job isnt for you.

  20. Helen Teague says:

    And from Tim, a colleague in our Facebook Technology group: Read blogs of other educators! BEcome a connected educator.

  21. Helen Teague says:

    Something great to remember from another Facebook colleague: Last piece of advice: don’t assume that kids automatically will know your expectations when they walk into your room no matter how old they are. If you show and tell them what you expect before you get down to work everyone is happy. Kids can’t read minds and since every teacher has different expectations they don’t “automatically” know what you want until you tell them.

  22. Helen Teague says:

    From Miguel Guhlin: Take advantage of tools like Edmodo which allow you to have a “virtual classroom,” an online space that facilitates safe communications. You can set it up to text to students if the students enter their phone numbers (but you can’t see them as a teacher) or email them.
    Follow Miguel through his blog: Around the Corner http://www.mguhlin.org/

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