For the first time in a long time, I have a mostly new team of teachers. There are three new team members, one prior team member, and myself. Now, only one of the team is actually a new teacher. The other two are both as experienced, and more, than I am which gives the experience a different feel than it might with brand new teachers. However, there is always a learning curve with a job, and so I am sharing a few things I have learned that help the new guys.
We just adopted new curriculum last year, which probably helps us be more flexible, but it is important to adjust and accept new ideas. As a profession that often is/was highly independent, it can be hard for people to come into a team situation where we work and plan together much of the time. Knowing this, it is essential to keep in mind that new team members are also professionals with experience, knowledge, and ideas. We did choose them for a reason, and we need to listen to what they have to offer.
Let Everyone Have a Voice
My prior team member is great at remembering to make sure members have an opportunity to share their voices. When we work together as a team it is often confusing and hectic, so having someone who remembers to go around the table and ask if everyone is comfortable, or understands, or has any other ideas is really important. It would probably work well to designate someone with this job if no one does it naturally. This way the new members of the team will feel more included, even if they aren’t comfortable enough to give input yet.
Making Sure Everyone Feels Valuable
When we are in new situations we often don’t feel ready to share ideas or are too overwhelmed to get our feet under us, so it is important that we feel like we are contributing in some way. If you are helping new team members with organizing the lessons, or learning the school routines, or figuring out kids at your level, don’t be quick to dismiss their offers of help copying, or sorting, or organizing books, or whatever it may be. We all like to feel valued and it is easy to assume new teachers would want less burdens, but they also probably want an opportunity to contribute. Even if it is just an offer of copying, say “Thank you so much,” instead of “It’s ok, I’ve got it.”
I think the most important thing I have learned that helped the guys through the first few weeks was prioritizing. Their cries for help, our realizations, and the dawning understanding that we experienced employees/teachers/team members almost intuitively know what to prioritize made us begin to identify the most important parts of the school and lesson requirements. When we are comfortable in our jobs we don’t really think about the day-to-day ranking of the to-do lists and we just get done what need to be, and hold off on what doesn’t for our own sanity. New employees can’t do this. They just know what they’ve been asked or told to do and so they try to do it all. Perhaps at the expense of their sanity or wellness, or perhaps to the deficit of the tasks themselves. Prioritizing the work load and lesson content is probably the number one thing that will help new team members.
Happy teaming to all of you and I hope your year goes as well as I think mine will.
In my non-teacher consumed hours I love to spend time with my husband and son, play board games, sew/craft/quilt, and read (I DO teach ELA).I aspire to be more into fitness and outdoors more often, though I find a comfy chair and a good book/movie mightily appealing.