Knock knock. It’s time to visit the new educator down the hall.

It’s October! Putting aside the tricks of zombies and monsters—we have enough of those in Washington, D.C.—let’s focus on treats, and especially let’s focus on treats for the new teachers and education support professionals in our schools.

This time of year, the frenzy of the first days of school has settled down. Names are learned. The copy machine mastered. New routines have become…routine. And now, as new-job, new-classroom, new-shoes excitement fades to ordinary, new educators face something really scary: the idea that THIS IS MY LIFE NOW AND IT’S REALLY HARD.

New teachers, we’ve all felt this way. Experienced teachers—this is where we come in.

None of us should feel alone in this work that we’ve chosen. We are brothers and sisters in this great union family, and united in the NEA vision of a great public school for every student. As educators and union members, we have so much more in common than we often realize.

And yet, I remember feeling a little bit alone that first year of teaching. And I know how much I appreciated my colleagues who popped their heads into my classroom or sat down at my tiny desks to chat, who shared their science supplies and lesson plans with me, who left notes and chocolates in my mail slot and told me, “YOU CAN DO THIS.”

A lot has been written about the teacher shortage. So many, too many, schools across the U.S. started the school year without highly qualified educators in every classroom. I have lots to say about this, too. (For example, how about we pay teachers more, or fund public education as if we care about public education?) But right now, I’m talking about the new teachers who strapped into the ride, who shot for the moon—and landed down the hall.

In recent years, NEA has dedicated hundreds of thousands of dollars in NEA Great Public School grants to local and state associations that aim to retain new teachers. Many of these projects pair new educators with formal mentors, a strategy proven to help educator retention. Others are investing in professional development for new and early educators in trainings and workshops led by NEA members and offered through local and state affiliates. New educators, check out the offerings from your local and state associations!

And definitely take a look at School Me at nea.org/schoolme for “life hacks, tips and advice” for new educators, including a podcast, video series, blog posts from experienced educators, and monthly webinars. (Guest contributors welcome, too!)

But sometimes, a new educator just needs a friend. You can be that friend. Keep in mind: this is an excellent time of year to stock up on chocolate…

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