Questions New Teachers Should Ask Schools

W. Stephen Parker
W. Stephen Parker
Middle/high school principal; M.A. in Educational Leadership
A interview reads through a resume; interviewee asks a question.

Being chosen as a new teacher in a school or district is usually an exciting time in the life and career as a teacher. The immediate gratification of being selected often above other applicants is often very satisfying. While being selected for a position should be exciting and met with excitement, the new teacher should always be as informed as possible of their new surroundings after the interview process. New teachers should always know as much as possible about the upcoming assignment. With this said, the new teacher should ask questions with the expectation of being as prepared as possible come that “first day of school” beginning.

 What is the school culture and community like here? 

The new teacher should enquire about the current school culture, and the community’s attitude toward the school and the school district. Often a new teacher is replacing a teacher that could have moved on for a variety of reasons.

The new teacher should ask these questions of their employer in order to gain insights as to what is expected. This information can go a long way in helping the new teacher in their approach in the classroom, in the school and within the community. A new teacher with an understanding of the school culture and community can prepare with a knowledge of how to approach their respective classroom.

 What support do teachers receive here? 

Understanding the support for the school and the teachers within the realm of school culture and community can go a long way in helping the new teacher in preparation for success in their respective classroom after the job interview. A new teacher with an understanding the current climate of support, can prepare for success much better when they understand going in what challenges they may face. Additionally, the new teacher with knowledge of support level can know up front what areas to avoid, or to handle in a certain way.

Teachers should also inquire frankly what support they can expect from immediate administrators and the central office staff. Knowing who “has your back” and who doesn’t can be very valuable in navigating through the different issues in education, especially those issues that might be sensitive. Going back to culture, knowing and buying into the school culture and community can greatly enhance the chance of success for the new teacher.

What should I know about school policies? 

Knowing and understanding the policies and procedures of the school is imperative for a new teacher to succeed. Requesting a teacher’s manual, and a student handbook should be one of the first things a new teacher requests. Additionally, making sure that the administrator is available to answer questions pursuant to policies and procedures is likewise important. Invariably, new teachers after reviewing said manuals will have some questions or need clarification. Knowing how the school operates, and how to relate to the students and community on certain issues is imperative for success of an incoming teacher.

What should I know about the curriculums used? 

The newly elected teacher should be given access to the curriculum that she will be using in her classroom. Additionally, questions as to what resources are currently available and what resources the teacher will be allowed to pursue is important to the teacher’s preparation for the upcoming school year.

Teachers should also ask how long they will be operating within the current curriculum:

  • Will this be the last year of the current adoption?
  • Who decides on the new curriculum in an adoption year?
  • Will I be directly involved in the selection process of new curriculum when adoption comes up?

Teachers should also ask what latitude they will have in their teaching of the curriculum as it relates to going outside of the current curriculum for enhancement of the course.

What is the salary/experience steps in salary? What are the benefits/retirement information/additional retirement opportunities?

As a newly selected teacher, one should expect to be given each of the above-mentioned items either verbally, in writing or found within the teacher handbook. The new teacher should ask questions to ensure that they are taking advantage of all of the benefits due him. While the salary is important, the yearly increase, or performance-based increases, is very important to know in planning for your future.

A teacher’s benefit package is very important and actually an indirect part of the salary package of the new teacher. The new teacher should directly ask what the benefit package includes. Questions of salary, increases, health insurance, retirement benefits (both state-mandated and outside retirement opportunities) should be discussed. Many school districts offer deferred compensation, and also additional health plan opportunities for example, a cancer policy or disability packages.

Some districts contract with outside entities to offer these additional benefits and other benefits such as 401K opportunities. It is important for the new teacher to understand any and all opportunities as they relate to their finances and protection of those finances through health, disability, and 401K benefits.

Basically, the new teachers understand that the school district has done their due diligence in researching them prior to their selection. The new teacher should likewise do their due diligence into the school, district, and community to ensure that acceptance of the position is in their best interest. While a teacher is hired to give the very best to the students in the classroom, the teacher should make sure the employer is giving the same consideration to them as a valued employee. The old saying, “there are no stupid questions” applies to the incoming teacher. Always do your due diligence to ensure you are going into the best situation for you.

Teachers never stop learning; check out our available graduate degree programs  to hone your skills and promote lifelong learning and academic excellence.

graduate program favicon

Looking for a graduate program?

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies. View our Privacy Policy.