Saturday, July 24, 2010

Being a First Year Teacher and the New Kid on the Block

I'll never forget my first year teaching. There was never a knock at the door. There was never a "Hello". I would look up and there she would be. Arms folded staring at me. A rather large lady with light brown balding hair with a large mole on her face. I wondered... does she need something? Does she want to tell me something? Am I doing something wrong? She would just stand there and look around, never saying a word. Over the two years I worked at that school I built a relationship with her. She was sweet and very interested in others. Some people might even call her nosy. She was the worksheet queen and loved cute art projects. Later in my life, after I had made many moves, taught in three states and many grades, I found myself going to the same church as Miss Anne. She was one of those people that you could pick up a conversation right where the last one ended, even if it had been ten years. I learned a lot from her and the others in my building over the first two years of my career. Veteran teachers know a lot. Ask them questions and they will gladly help you. Ask them questions even if you don't really need any answers. Ask them for help and advice even if you don't need any help or advice. When someone asks another person for help or advice, it is a way of reaching out and building relationships.

Building relationships is one of the most important skills for a new teacher. Build relationships with the custodians. Ask the custodians what you need to do to get your room ready for them to clean it each day. Should you stack your chairs on the floor or on top of the tables? Are there things that you should do to your room each day that no one has ever mentioned?

Build relationships with the cafeteria workers. Make sure you understand how the lunch count is done at your school. Make sure you submit lunch orders on time each day. Make sure you let the lunchroom ladies know how much you enjoy their food. It's also a good thing to carry treats to the lunchroom ladies. Even though they spend their time cooking, lunchroom ladies love someone to make them something special. Go ahead. Make their day. Bake them a cake or some cookies or brownies. I promise it will be a good thing. One day you might need to borrow something from the kitchen....something very important for a science experiment or a birthday party.

Build relationships with the other new teachers in the school. Chances are they need a friend too. Ask them to meet you for coffee before school one day at a local coffee shop. Ask them to go work out after school or to dinner one evening.

Build relationships with the other teachers and the administrators at your school. Be confident. Smile. Say hello. Say nice things about everyone. If you can't think of something nice to say, then don't say anything. Being new is hard. Sometimes things may feel uncomfortable. You may feel like you don't fit in. But give it time. Keep hanging in there and by all means, keep smiling. Before you know it, you won't be the new kid anymore. You'll feel comfortable. You'll feel like you own the place. You'll feel like everyone there is part of your family. Enjoy every moment. They will be etched in your heart and mind forever. After all, it's your first year teaching.

No comments:

Post a Comment