Chief of Staff, Teaching & Leading Initiative of Oklahoma
and Emily Potter
Faculty Chair, College of Education at Grand Canyon University
During our first years in the classroom, we watched in awe as veteran teachers transitioned back to school with impressive parent night plans, organized lesson plans and effective procedures for getting things done—some even with fresh summer tans! For newbies, it felt like watching a magic show, teacher style. How did they do it all?
Veteran teachers have more experience and skill than magic, of course. For new teachers, veterans are the secret source of knowledge to navigating the endless list of teacher tasks and deadlines. Whether you’re starting a new teaching job or switching grade-level teams, we have a few tips for tapping into that veteran teacher magic.
1. Build Relationships
Even if your new teaching colleagues don’t reach out to you for lunchtime hangs or before/after-school chats, go out of your way to build relationships. Veteran teachers have seen a lot of colleagues come and go so it’s up to you to show them that you’re there for the kids and there to learn. Go out of your way to say hello, be friendly and foster those relationships. (Pro-tip: Learn names!)
2. Ask For Resources
Even if your time-tested colleagues don’t offer resources, ask! If you’re stuck on the fraction unit, trot over to the classroom next door to ask for advice. (Pro-tip: Asking in person can really help.) When another teacher mentions something she does, ask for a copy. Eventually, you’ll have your own resources to share but for now, ask away! Just remember to pay it forward when you have your own shareable resources someday.
3. Go the Extra Mile
Newbies don’t often have the detailed unit plans or carefully structured essay prompts to offer to more experienced colleagues, but you can go the extra mile. If you’re making copies of a field trip form or printing a reading log, make some for your teaching colleagues as a thank you for all their help. An early morning coffee or helping hand tells your new teaching colleagues that you appreciate their wisdom and support.
As you transition to a new position or join the teaching profession for the first time, trade in your boot-shaking nervousness for these practical tips. Don’t be shy! Someday you’ll be in the veteran teacher position and ready to help another newbie.