Finding Support in Your First Year of Teaching
In any profession you’ll find professional groups and networks to support and encourage new professionals, as well as groups of experienced professionals seeking to advance in their profession. This is known in the corporate world as networking. The teaching profession has several support groups that provide information, consultation, and much-needed encouragement for the new teacher. Especially during your first year of teaching, it’s incredibly important to have an adequate support network. Good people to incorporate into your network include:
Students often have to cope with difficulties, such as death, divorce, and mental and physical abuse, which can affect their academic performance. When a teacher notices signs indicating that a student is suffering from any difficulty, whether personal or physiological, it’s wise to consult with a school nurse or a school counselor who can assist in uncovering the underlying problem in a sensitive and appropriate way. Teachers normally receive plenty of support when dealing with various student problems.
2. Administrative Staff
The principal of a school often provides wonderful support and assistance to teachers, especially when disciplining misbehaving children in middle grades and high school. The principal also guides a teacher in getting to know the support staff through formal or informal meetings.
3. School Secretary
The school secretary helps the new teacher understand the school policies and assists in getting to know the rules concerning photocopying, borrowing LCD or overhead projectors, knowing where to get school supplies, and maintaining attendance records.
Fellow teachers are an important part of the support network and are very important to the new teacher. They provide mentoring, counsel, and general information about classroom management, and they help familiarize the new teacher with the rules of the school. They also help new teachers locate teaching resources in the school.
5. Professional and Specialty Organizations
Apart from school support staff, the new teacher can benefit from the many professional and specialty organizations that support the teaching profession. Professional organizations provide information, networking opportunities, and research. Specialty organizations are those that represent specific areas of interest within the profession. For example, the Association for Childhood Education International is a forum for elementary and middle-grade teachers. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and the American Association of Physics Teachers are examples of excellent forums for teachers at the secondary level.
6. International Organizations
Several international organizations serve the field of education. Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK), for example, publishes professional materials, such as research reports and results of surveys and newsletters, and also sponsors workshops and educational meetings that enhance the entire field of education.
Just like with interviews, it may take practice to figure out how to best approach people you wish to incorporate into your personal and professional network. Be polite, be proactive, and you’ll populate your support group in no time!