The other night I participated in the weekly evening #edchat about new teachers and how they should be supported and whether or not they should be giving special consideration. I was not able to stay for the entire chat, but the conversations really got me thinking about new teachers and what they face when they enter the classroom.
There are really three categories of new teachers who will joining our profession. (I am sure we can come up with more, but these are generalized categories.)
New Teachers fresh out of college with a degree in Education
New Teachers fresh out of college without an Education degree
New Teachers who are older and coming from other careers
Finding the student bathrooms are usually pretty easy, but where are the staff bathrooms ... can I make it there during the class change time period.
2. Where are the break rooms/vending machines/coffee pot/refrigerators?
Finding a snack or cold soft drink can make or break a day. Is there a staff coffee pot? Where can I put my lunch to keep it cold. Are there any secret locations? Yes, there might be a big refrigerator in the break room, but is there one closer ... like in your neighbor's room.
3. Where is the copier and how do I use it? ... Please don't make them wait for the "training."
The assumption that everyone can use a copier should be avoided. Every copier seems to have a demon that likes to frustrate teachers. Do the new teachers know the secrets to avoid the copier demon.
It is important that teachers know which Administrator does what. Yes, we know the Principal is the top of the school, but what roles do the other members of the team fill. Many schools have defined roles for the Administration team. New teachers need to know who does Discipline, Testing, Curriculum, or Facilities. It makes it easier to ask the right questions of the right person.
If you do not know who "the" secretary you may be doing yourself a disservice. The secretary is the one who controls payroll, ordering, and more than likely is the Principal's secretary. It may be one person or it could be several people, but it is important that new teachers know who this person is and how they make life easier at the school.
Make sure your new teachers know who this person is and what services they provide. In many schools they are responsible for checking out the technology and handling any issues that may arise. What are their schedules?
Many schools have home grown discipline methods to track student behavior. Some have cards that the teacher marks or demerits or in my previous school they had an "economy system" where the students were fined and had to write checks for infractions. It is important that new teachers know how these systems operate. At my previous school I had no idea how the system worked and it took a student to show me how to use it. Even when I started at my new school no one showed me the cards we used.
Very few campuses are set up in a nice neat fashion. It is important for teachers to know where everything is located. Are certain sections of the school for specific purposes? Is there a place for specific grade levels ... science rooms ... where are the computer labs?
Where are the duty stations and what am I supposed to do when I am there. A Cafeteria duty post is different than being a hall monitor. We have to make sure we are not setting up these new teachers up to fail.
It is always nice to know where to get food. How do teacher's lunch accounts work? Do I need to walk the kids to lunch ... supervise in the halls. Do I get to cut in line in front of the students or is there a special teacher line?
I get I need to make lesson plans, but is there a special format I should follow. Where do I need to put them. Do I send them to someone or upload it some where? What elements need to be there?
Is there some sort of template that gives me an overview of the curriculum with possible resources. As I was reviewing curriculum maps last year for our district we noticed there was a lack of resources included. As we reworked them we made sure they included resources that would help teachers. Sometimes it is not about being able to answer questions, but rather to just point teachers in the right direction.