What Do New Teachers Need?
Thirteen Things to Keep in Mind
From NEA's A Better Beginning
Still remember your first year of teaching? And the help you
needed? Would you like to make it easier for the beginning teachers in
your school? Here are some things new teachers need from their
Back in 1987, Arizona teacher Kathy Wiebke remembers, new teachers
were left on their own as they greeted the incoming Class of 2000. "It
was: 'Here's the key to your room, here's the Xerox machine, here's the
books. Now go at it."
Wiebke's colleague Ellen James, a new teacher that year, was assigned
to a portable classroom on the outskirts of campus. Though her
colleagues were a "great resource, very supportive," James describes her
first-year experiences as terribly isolating. "It was a whole lot of
learning from mistakes," she says.
Bridgeport, Connecticut, teacher Mary Lou Weiner agrees. She still
gets butterflies when she recalls her first year of teaching 20 years
ago. "There was no support," says Weiner. "It was just me and 36 fifth
graders. The one in the last seat, near the cast iron heater, had a
mustache." It's not that other teachers weren't friendly. There simply
was no system in place for Weiner to share, vent, or cut through that
feeling of isolation in her classroom.
Most new teachers today still feel isolated. And whether they stay in
the profession for the long haul depends a great deal on their ability
to "sink or swim" during their vital first year. Many things can help
new teachers "swim," and mentoring is certainly one of the most
important. Other things that can help new teachers succeed include: