Help new teachers feel welcome and appreciated with these helpful tips from fellow admins and leaders
A teacher’s first year of teaching at your school comes with a lot of unknowns. Not only are you taking a risk on a new teacher but there is a lot of effort that needs to be made to ensure that they are provided with an optimal environment so they can shine in their new role. With education taking a hit over the past few years, retention is especially important. With all of the uncontrollables, it is important that, as leaders, we control what we can in order to achieve the best outcomes for our colleagues and for our students.
In this post, we have outlined advice from fellow administrators and leaders on the best ways to embrace our teachers of tomorrow and help them learn and grow with us in a safe and welcoming environment.
Show Your Appreciation
Send a note of gratitude to your new teachers over the summer. Thank them for not only joining your team, but for joining the profession. Teaching is not only a craft, it is a calling. Thank them in advance for choosing to lead a purpose-driven life dedicated to growing and serving others. Include a pack of seeds to drive home the point and make it a little more special!
Help New Teachers Feel Part of the Team
Pull out all of the stops to help your new teachers feel like they are a part of your team. Provide them with swag like a school or district hat, shirt, and lanyard. Include an activity in your orientation that allows them to explore how their personal mission fits with your school or district mission. Process with them how their strengths can make your team better and stronger. Ask them what they need in order to feel like they belong. And remember this:
"When you ask people what it is like being part of a great team, what is most striking is the meaningfulness of the experience. People talk about being part of something larger than themselves, of being connected, of being generative. It becomes quite clear that, for many, their experiences as part of truly great teams stand out as singular periods of life lived to the fullest."
- Peter Senge, author and educator
Connect your new teachers with their mentors as soon as you can. Help them to make a connection before the first day of orientation. Encourage them to reach out and ask questions. Tip: See if your PTA will sponsor a gift card to a local restaurant so they eat and greet!
Also make sure that new members know that they have other people to go to. It would be great to have an administrator (other than the admin doing their evaluation) and a member from another team or department.
Make informal observations an option for them in addition to formalized evaluations/observations. These can be with admin or other teachers who may be willing to participate. Provide a list of staff members who are excellent role models who are willing to be observed by new teachers (i.e. Pineapple Chart Method).
Provide sample goals for new teachers for the year that they can choose as an option. Not only will this take “one more thing” off of their plate, but the goals could be things that we know as veterans will make their lives better in year one. Make sure to stress that these are optional and they have autonomy to choose their own goals.
Provide “Just-in-time/Just-enough” support
New teachers need "just-in-time/just-enough" support from you. Don't make them drink out of an orientation/induction firehose for three or four days and expect that they feel ready to go. Support them in thinking about their first day, first week, and first month of school. And, focus heavily on the first two. Anything beyond that will be lost and only cause unnecessary stress. Bring them back together to talk about the next month after they are settled in.
Hold brief meetings with all new staff members throughout the school year. 30 minutes or less just to check in should do the trick. These would be informal opportunities for new staff to provide administration with feedback on what is going well and what they are struggling with. Brief surveys could be shared prior to these meetings to ensure all feedback is heard.
In order for a teacher to feel welcome in their first year, it is important to continuously drive engagement, communication, and feedback. Starting from before they enter the classroom through their final day in the classroom come Spring. The goal is to make new teachers feel confident, prepared, and welcome. When our new members feel comfortable, then they will be able to excel in the roles that they were hired to do.
Did you know that 58% of people are likely to leave a job if they are not presented with opportunities for professional development? Explore online courses for continuing education and professional development options.