“Congratulations! I plan to recommend you for the open position at my school. You will be teaching 5th grade. Welcome to our school.” Once you graduate, these are words you dream of hearing. Then you actually get that phone call, and you start to realize that you are about to be in charge of your own classroom. You will have to ensure your students master many standards in multiple subjects, you will face multiple observations, and then you start to sweat. It’s OK — stay calm, and realize you are not alone in this journey.
Work With a Mentor
The good news is your school might pair you with a mentor, someone who is there to guide you through the daily routines of teaching. If they do not, or even if they do, you might want to seek out another teacher with whom you find a connection. This relationship might take a few weeks to determine. You might choose someone within your grade-level who can help you plan lessons and develop a forecast for future lessons. However, you might find a connection with someone in another grade, or even another school, with whom you truly relate. This person might share advice on classroom management, preparing for your first observation, or creating class centers and rotations. Having more than one mentor is great — just make sure your mentor is current and energized.
Professional Learning Teams
A current trend in education is professional learning teams; this may be the teachers within your grade or subject who meet to discuss results of common assessments and future instructional strategies. This is a great place to soak up ideas and listen to ways veteran teachers have found success, but don’t be afraid to share your ideas too – – with caution. It is true that veteran teachers can be set in their ways and hesitant of new ideas. However, when presented well, you can share new strategies and ideas that may positively affect student outcomes. Just remember, ask lots of questions, realize you have a lot to learn from experiences, and understand you have plenty to offer as well.
Get Involved Outside the Classroom
Finally, find ways to get involved. There are so many ways to enjoy the many aspects of teaching and enhance your professionalism. You may be required to attend two full-day in-services, but nothing is stopping you from attending additional ones. Attending county-wide collaboratives is a great way to network, learn new ideas, and meet teachers. You can also find ways to help. Many schools have teacher-sponsored clubs. You might not be ready to take on your own, but find one that interests you and volunteer to help. Likewise, show your school spirit by assisting in ballgames — work the gate or help with concessions, whatever is available. This is a great way to meet your school community. Mainly, don’t forget your day is not contained to the hours of school operation. Be willing to go the extra mile and make new connections.