The Benefits of Being a New Teacher
The first year in front of a classroom can be intimidating, exciting, and challenging all at once. Nevertheless, new teachers bring unique perspectives to their schools that other veteran teachers may not have considered.
Often we read about the challenges and struggles of being a first-year teacher. This narrative could contribute to the low morale of new teachers. And, as research shows, teacher morale and student performance are closely tied. Not to mention, anywhere from 17% to 40% of new teachers leave the teaching field before they have taught for five years. The high turnover rate of new teachers is disheartening because there are many advantages that schools can gain from having new teachers in their classrooms. For this reason, schools and teaching programs should highlight and celebrate the strengths that new teachers bring to classrooms and help these teachers develop the confidence they need to be successful.
First-year teachers come with new knowledge and practices that other teachers may not be familiar with. Author and educator Thomas Newkirk describes the impact new teachers can have on their classrooms and their schools in his most recent book. For example, his school had strong athletic programs – except for track and field. Newkirk, as a new addition to the school community, saw this as an opportunity and began organizing a track and field team. It was incredibly successful and considered by many to be his largest contribution to the school when he left.
By the same token, new teachers also tend to have a larger energy reserve than veteran teachers. This means that new teachers can draw on this energy to experiment in their classrooms, start new initiatives within their schools, and take on additional leadership positions.
First-year teachers can also serve as powerful community builders. It is common for new teachers to reach out to teachers and administrators with more experience to receive advice on classroom management, planning, or assessments. By doing this, new teachers can create bridges across grade levels and bring together a network of teachers that can learn and grow together.
Beginner teachers also get the experience of self- and professional-development that is almost impossible to recreate. Because new teachers are beginning with a blank slate, they can explore to find their own classroom-management styles and discover how they best relate to their students. Any teacher can reflect on their performance in the classroom, but new teachers have the benefit of no prior experience to draw on for comparison.,
Teachers will meet many challenges and learn plenty of lessons during their first year in the classroom, but they can also make a powerful impact in their schools. When they join a new school, they provide an outside perspective on the school and administration. The first year of being a teacher is tough – there is no way around that. But beginning teachers should identify and celebrate the special gifts they have from being new to the profession.