Who Should You Ask? Advice for New Teachers

I am linking up today with the always witty Lizzie at The Big Kids Hall for her Seasoned Sages linkup.  This week we are talking about all those burning questions new teachers should be asking...and who they should be asking.  Let's jump in.

Ask very little.  Your principal, regardless of how supportive he or she may be, is a very busy person.  You were hired to do a job, and the expectation is that you know how to perform said job well.  I remember a few years back doing a mock interview with a middle school principal as interview practice.  One of the questions I was asked was, "how would I handle a parent that does not agree with my teaching methods?"  My response?  Involving the principal's opinion on classroom rules and procedures.  Wrong answer.  She explained that she does not want to get involved in the little details.  Basically, I needed to come up with my own set of rules and regulations.  That being said rely on your principal only for:

  • Parental/child situations that require immediate and important attention.
  • Situations that may otherwise haunt you later (hey, by the way, I just wanted to let you know [insert scenario] and this is how I handled it...)
  • Scheduling changes and other big matters that affect the school community
Basically all you need to know about how the school is run will be answered right here.  However, keep in mind that nearly every teacher in the school knows this very important truth, and your secretary's time is precious.  So, to prevent being a nag here as well, order your questions in a list of importance.  Save those not-so-important ones for another staff member (more on this later).  You can most likely ask the secretary questions about:
  • Important school policies and procedures
  • Where to locate supplies
  • General housekeeping questions (field trip request forms, parent phone numbers, where to locate student files, etc.)
 
When I first started out, a seasoned teacher once told me, "always treat the custodians nicely...they will get things done for you."  This was sound advice.  I make sure to treat the custodians in my school well, including having the students write thank you notes on National Custodial Appreciation Day (mark your calendars for October 2nd this year).  You can ask your custodial staff about:

  • Cleaning supplies
  • Furniture questions
  • Access to closets
  • Little jobs that need adjusting or fixing
Remember when I was talking about the secretary earlier and I told you to save those questions that weren't so important to ask?  Well, here is where you can rely on your mentor or a teaching staff member you trust.  Ask about the following:
  • Curriculum questions
  • Lesson planning and procedures
  • Cooperative learning opportunities and teacher collaboration
As I mentioned earlier, you were hired to perform a job...and do it well.  But what happens when you start doubting yourself?  Or, you find that something just isn't working?  The online teaching community is where I strongly suggest new teachers turn for the nitty-gritty.  Just can't figure out how to make your ELA block work?  Do you feel like you can't get through to that one student?  How the heck do you fit all that curriculum into one school year?  Test-preparation?  Guided reading? What??  Huh??

Yes.  Here is where I turn when I just can't figure something out, or I am doubting myself.  I love how supportive the community can be.  I love that I can poke through other teachers' classrooms by reading their blogs.  I love that I can download lesson plans and activities in a snap through TpT.  I love the collaboration (like this linky party right now) which allows me to hear other teachers' opinions on topics that all us teachers face.  Even if blogging isn't right for you, familiarize yourself with some good, strong bloggers in your same niche.  Trust me, you will be turning to these guys more than you can imagine.

Well, that's all for me, folks.  Head on over to Lizzie's blog to read some of her excellent tips for newbie teachers. 
The Big Kids' Hall


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