Back to School: Supporting New Teachers

Back-to-school!  Those words are filled with the anticipation of a new academic year fills the air for veteran teachers; however, for first-year teachers, that anticipation is mixed with fear, nervousness, and worry. These new teachers want to create a positive learning environment for students but lack the experience to know how to prepare for that first day.   

For all seasoned educators, it is necessary that we rally to provide unwavering support for those new colleagues as they embark on their teaching journey. In this blog, the Stride Professional Development Center explores the importance of supporting new teachers and discusses effective strategies to help them thrive.  

Offer Mentor Programs
Probably the most powerful and effective way to support new teachers is creating a strong mentorship program. Pairing experienced teachers with new educators creates a valuable opportunity for guidance, collaboration, and personal development. Mentorship programs provide a safe space for new teachers to seek advice, ask questions, and share their concerns. Seasoned mentors can offer insights into successful teaching practices, classroom management strategies, and effective communication techniques.  

If you are a mentor to a new teacher, remember your first year and how far you’ve come in the process.  You need to help them see that long-term perspective.  To do that, meet with them frequently.  Incorporate them in your team authentically.  Share your resources and ideas freely.  Offer your cell phone and tell them to reach out promptly.  Listen to them and speak encouragingly.  Help them set goals realistically.  

Give Professional Development
Organize workshops and training sessions to enhance their teaching skills, introduce them to innovative teaching methodologies, and familiarize them with the school’s curriculum and policies. By continuously encouraging their growth, new teachers will feel supported, valued, and equipped to provide the best possible education to their students.  

The Stride PD Center can help here as we offer all new teachers a free year of professional learning.  Simply have new teachers visit our Teacher Appreciation page and create their accounts.  They can learn what they need right when they need it.     

Create a Collaborative Culture

The key here is to help new teachers feel welcomed and supported. Encourage regular team meetings and peer observation sessions, where educators can share best practices, discuss challenges, and offer constructive feedback. Knowing that they have a team to rely upon can significantly reduce the stress and workload for new teachers. This atmosphere also makes them more likely to thrive in class, contribute to the school, and stay in the profession.  

Far too often, new teachers enter the field lacking a clear understanding of IEPs and 504 plans; therefore, do not miss this opportunity to build a strong relationship with the special education and MTSS/RTI teams.  New teachers do not need to understand the theory but give them practice advice on implementation of the plans, progress monitoring, and understanding of their role in team meetings later on.  

Provide Classroom Resources
What do you think the greatest classroom resource is for new teachers?  I’d answer that in one word – TIME!  As a veteran teacher, you need to become an advocate for those new teachers with your school administrators.  Make sure that back-to-school days include ample time so that new teachers can set up their classrooms.  This classroom set-up is probably the most stressful thing they face for day one.  Get that time protected and then go into their room and ask them how you can help them.     

Moving beyond that initial classroom set-up, equipping new teachers with the necessary resources and tools is essential for success. Ensure they have access to teaching materials, technology, and specific resources related to their subject area. We posted a blog back in April highlighting resources for new teachers, so find it here to share with your new teachers.  While not an exhaustive list, it gives them (and you) ideas for other resources.  

Discuss Classroom Management
Without a doubt, classroom management is THE hardest thing to forecast for any teacher.  Some teachers seem to have an almost natural command of the classroom while others can struggle.  The positive to this is simple – every teacher can, and should, improve their classroom management toolkit.   

To save time, find our blog Helping a Teacher with Classroom Management to discover a simple strategy – called a 3×3 – that anyone can use.   

Deliver Emotional Support & Work-Life Balance Preparation for that first classroom is overwhelming, especially for new teachers who are adjusting to the demands of the profession. It is essential to recognize the emotional toll teaching can have and to provide a support system for new teachers. Let’s be honest – teachers take work home (and lots of it) so this topic must be addressed with new teachers.  

Create a panel of veteran educators to discuss work-life balance with the new teachers.  Have that panel share their proven practices over time that have helped them to improve.  Encourage this panel to openly communicate so that new teachers have a model to discuss their feelings and concerns.  

For school leaders, you must do more than just talk about work-life balance because you must model it.  Don’t send a teacher an email at 830pm but delay that send until the next morning.  Also, focus on self-care throughout the year for all teachers, but really hone in on helping new teachers to manage stress effectively.  

Encourage Reflection and Growth
Professional reflection is a powerful tool for personal development. Encourage new teachers to engage in regular self-assessment and reflection on their teaching practices. This introspection allows them to identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement. Additionally, administrators and mentors can conduct regular assessments and offer constructive feedback to help new teachers grow in their craft.  

Celebrate Successes
Recognizing and celebrating the successes of new teachers is crucial for building their confidence and motivation. Do not wait for the “big wins” but look for and point out the small ones.  Teachers are their own harshest critics, so help the new teachers see the good in what they are doing.  Whether it’s acknowledging their positive impact on students, their creative teaching approaches, or their dedication to professional development, appreciation goes a long way. Celebrate their achievements publicly within the school community to foster a sense of belonging and accomplishment.    

During back-to-school season, do not overlook those new teachers.  In fact, they should be a focus of effort for the entire school community.  By creating a nurturing environment, this back-to-school season a memorable and positive experience for everyone – especially new teachers!

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