Supporting First Year Teachers

Leah Clark Uncategorized

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Next month, thousands of college students across Arizona and the country will proudly move their graduation tassels from right to left, signifying the completion of their degree. This momentous occasion symbolizes their hard work and dedication as they worked toward their goals. 

As someone who thought they were too cool for school, I sadly missed out on this tradition during my undergraduate degree. When I finished my master’s degree, I decided I didn’t want to miss out again and excitedly participated in the pomp and circumstance. 

In the fall, these new graduates will enter our schools as our colleagues, first-year teachers who are eager to begin their careers. However, these new teachers are starting a career in an environment like never before.

The last year has tested us as professionals and people in ways we could have imagined. Many of us have taught remotely or in a hybrid setting, implementing new methods and strategies to move our students forward in their learning during a global pandemic. 

This new crop of teachers will enter the field in many places where students have not set foot inside a traditional classroom for over a year or where students have bounced between remote and in-person learning several times throughout the year. The challenges of being a first-year teacher will be unlike any other year. 

With that in mind, I hope we, as more seasoned teachers, can help new teachers thrive in their classrooms next year. What can we do or say that will help them find feel supported and successful? Here are some ideas:

  • Remind them that this is the best job even when it feels like it isn’t. There are days when we are flying high, and there are days we would rather forget. That’s okay. We learn from them and become better educators. 
  • Check in on new teachers regularly, stop by their rooms to ask how they are doing. and find out how they feel. Provide the support every new teacher deserves. 
  • Invite new teachers into the conversation. It’s easy to eat lunch with the same crew. But let’s invite our new friends to join us. Help them find a community within our schools. Eating alone every day isn’t very much fun. 
  • Don’t expect new teachers to immediately sponsor a club or coach a sport. That first year is all about getting their bearings as a teacher. If a new teacher wants to help, encourage them to assist for a year before taking over the program. Tell them that it’s okay to say no if they aren’t ready or don’t have enough time to devote to an extracurricular activity. 
  • Remind them to go home! There’s not an award for the teacher who works the most hours. Protecting our time is more valuable than ever before. We want new teachers to stay in the profession. Working late every night isn’t going to make that happen. 

I remember my first year of teaching with bittersweet memories. There are lessons that I am so proud of and some I would rather forget. But most of all, I remember it as a year filled with personal growth. I hope we can help our new colleagues find their places in our schools. What ideas can you add to help new teachers next year? Leave a comment below. 




Leah Clark

Phoenix, Arizona

I joined the teaching profession after spending several years in luxury retail. While the free clothes and handbags were definite job perks, I felt burned out and tired of long hours, weekends and holidays. So, I went back to school to become a teacher and have never looked back. I love my job!
My teaching philosophy is simple: Do what’s best for kids. While it’s not eloquent, this humble phrase directs every decision I make about teaching and students. As a Language Arts teacher at a central Phoenix high school, it’s my honor and passion to create opportunities for students to communicate, collaborate, create and connect with one another and the world around them.
When I am not grading a stack of essays, planning a new lesson, or chaperoning a school dance, I love riding my yellow Huffy bicycle around town, sampling a new restaurant, and traveling to Flagstaff with my husband.

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