We’re a little more than midway through the 2015-16 academic year, and what a whirlwind it’s been! I bet many of you can hardly remember those first heady days of school – learning students’ personalities, finding your rhythm, making it all work. After years in the classroom, much of it seems to just come naturally. But I remember my own early days in Utah. I didn’t start off as the state’s Teacher of the Year. Some days when I went into the classroom, I felt more like this.
Each year, 200,000 new educators join us as newbies. Many of them have yet to find their groove. They are struggling to keep their heads above water and may even be thinking that this first year may well be their last.
Now’s a great time for you to check in with your newest colleagues. You’ve been in their shoes. Offer them support, show them love, and let them know they’re part of a union that wants them to have everything they need to thrive.
A National Center for Education Statistics study last year said that about 17 percent of new teachers leave the profession after only one year. Some estimates are upwards of 30 percent. As Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University points out, the challenge is not always recruiting new teachers, but retaining current teachers.
Many new educators wish they’d had more training in how to manage their classrooms and they yearn for meaningful, relevant professional development that will give them the confidence we all needed that first year.
— JCES Jaguars (@JCESJaguars) February 12, 2016
These new educators enter schools with high hopes. They believe in what they do and even feel called to do it. Those of us with years under our belts, however, appreciate the challenge of reconciling those laudable ideals with the daily realities of our profession. New educators need our help. And there’s evidence that mentors make a big difference; the NCES study pointed out that new teachers with assigned mentors are more likely to continue teaching than those without mentors.
Point the new teachers in your school to the resources on our website specifically geared toward them, including suggestions for how to deal with stress and words of wisdom from experienced educators. Invite them to get active in the union, especially as a means of advocating for professional development.
Think back to your own early days in the classroom and be open about what it was like to be brand new. Most of all, let them know they are not alone.
Now is the perfect time for this outpouring of hugs and support, and for sharing your love of teaching through the #LoveTeaching Campaign 2016.
Sean McComb, 2014 National Teacher of the Year, is passionate about this social media campaign. It started last year as a simple way for educators to remind current teachers that they’re part of a noble profession, and to inspire prospective teachers to join us. In 2015, 5 million people tweeted, blogged, or found other ways of sharing their motivational moments, inspiration, and professional passions.
Sean is asking teachers to “be a voice for the hope, promise, and possibilities that come alive in the classroom” this week by taking to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites; putting a #LoveTeaching note up in the teacher’s lounge or school office; sharing a video message; or posting a photo or video of their schools, classrooms, or teaching moments that inspire them.
Remember what it was like at the very beginning of your career? It wasn’t easy, but you hung in there – and you probably got by with a little help from your friends. This week, repay that favor and remind yourselves of why you #LoveTeaching.