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3 Ways to Help a New Teacher (105/365)

Remember your first year of teaching? Mine was far from easy. Often, I wonder if the students in that first class learned as much as I did. This drives me today to help new teachers. We're presented with countless opportunities to help teachers. The benefits are significant. We can impact one teacher and one or several classrooms full of students. We can help a new teacher grow and discover their passion and purpose for teaching. Perhaps of greatest importance, we can impact students for decades, even a generation to come.

This Year, Let's Make a Commitment to Being that Marigold.

Each fall, I share Find Your Marigold: The One Essential Rule for New Teachers by Jennifer Gonzalez, with our Faculty. The purpose is two-fold, to invite others to: Find a marigold. Be a marigold. Questions that often challenge teachers in response to this invitation include:

  • Where do I begin?

  • How can I possibly help?

  • What do I have to learn?

  • Why is this my responsibility?

Take a deep breath and don't worry! If you've read the article, and are reflecting, contemplating the invite, asking yourself questions like these, you are on the right track!

Here are three ideas to consider, as you begin to see yourself as someone's marigold:

Ask what they need to be successful, don't tell them what worked for you.

A mistake I've made as an experienced educator is telling my story, rather than learning as much about the person and the challenging situation he/she faces. A better way, I've learned, is to stay in inquiry, as long as possible. Leave "wait time" as a teacher reflects. Ask follow-up questions to clarify understanding of the teacher's circumstances and how he/she sees their role in coming to a resolution. Wait to respond only after I am asked a question.

Focus and practice daily; use the rubric.

Teaching is personal. The most dedicated teachers are proud of the planning and preparation that goes into an exceptional lesson or unit plan. To help keep conversations around teaching objective, use the District's adopted rubric, but use it as a coaching tool. It's not possible to focus on every aspect of the rubric. Working together to identify three areas of focus will center the conversation and the work towards incremental improvement.

Connect them with others who struggle, as well as others who are thriving.

We all know a teacher who says, "My job here is to teach. Why am I responsible for this too?" While this may be perceived as "one more thing we have to do", I invite you to consider this as an invitation and an opportunity. Engaging in regular dialogue with others will initiative a "helping flywheel" that will energize us. The more we help, the more we get helped, the more we help. Where do we begin, to find a marigold and to be a marigold?

Start small, be patient, and build gradually. To paraphrase James Clear, Rome was not built in a day, but it started with one brick.

Click here to visit the Learning Leadership 365 site, where you may read all posts I've written.


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