Everyone in our profession knows exactly what it’s like to be a new teacher. We were all there once. Chances are you remember someone from that first year who showed you that they cared. Someone who took the time to notice that you were swamped, overextended, passionate, and excited but exhausted.
Reaching out to a new teacher can change the course of their career. Here are nine easy ideas for how to help new teachers.
1. Go on a lunch date.
My first department chair invited me to have lunch with her once a month my entire first year. I brought pastries, and she brought fruit. Then she listened, smiled, and supported my ideas. It was the most generous thing an administrator has ever done for me. Sometimes new teachers don’t need advice as much as they need someone to listen and tell them they are doing a good job. Inviting a new teacher to join you for a simple lunch date just be the nicest thing you can do for them.
2. Grab some coffee.
Running out to grab Starbucks during a planning period? Pop your head into the new teacher’s room and find out what their order is. Stop for a few minutes when you get back and chat over your chai lattes. Chances are, they will reciprocate soon. The next thing you know, you are supporting each other in this small but helpful way.
3. Plan a unit together.
If there’s a new teacher on your team, consider planning something together. Maybe you’re teaching the same material for a part of the year, and you could each save time by sharing the load. You’ll each learn from the other’s methods, and you’ll probably get to know each other in the process.
4. Create an interdisciplinary project together.
The same goes for a new teacher who’s not on your team. Talk to a new teacher in another department. Suggest planning something that will bridge your disciplines. Maybe your history students can work on a mural project with the new art teacher’s students, or your literature students can launch a blogging project with the help of the new I.T. teacher’s students.
5. Encourage them to submit an article or present at a conference.
Often new teachers have more to offer their colleagues than they realize. They’re eager and willing to try so many innovative things, and chances are some of those new things are working well. Encourage a new teacher you know to submit an article about something cool they are trying in class or suggest they present about it at a conference. The experience of sharing their strengths and successes will buoy them.
6. Share some teacher swag.
If there’s one thing my Instagram feed has taught me this year, it’s that teacher swag abounds. The next time you’re picking up a Rae Dunn mug, a hilarious teaching t-shirt at Target, or a set of flair pins, pick up an extra and give it to a new teacher. When you wear your matching shirts on the same day or accidentally drink from the same mug in the faculty room, you and your new teacher pal will laugh—and they’ll also feel your support.
7. Host a department potluck.
If there’s something that’s easier than hosting a potluck, I’m not sure what it is. Shoot an email to your department, including all the new folks, inviting them to a lunch potluck in your classroom or a dinner potluck at your house. It will give the newbies a chance to mingle with the experienced pros, and everyone will feel a little friendlier at the next department meeting.
8. Lend a book.
I can still remember the covers of the three books that meant the most to me as a new teacher. It made me so happy to send them through the mail to my cousin when she started her own teaching career. Perhaps you have a meaningful teaching tome on your own shelf. Pass it along to a new teacher who could really use it!
9. Recommend a website.
If you’re more of an e-reader or internet guru, suggest a great teaching website to a new teacher. Share this list of Facebook groups, where new teachers can find support, or some teacher podcasts that you think they’d enjoy. One of your suggestions just might help provide an anchor to a new teacher at sea.
Whether you try one of these or reach out in your own creative way, one thing is for sure: It’s never a bad idea to try and help a new teacher.
And if you’re a new teacher looking for support, don’t miss our WeAreTeachers—First Years! group on Facebook. It’s a spot just for new teachers to meet, chat, and share ideas.