In my previous blog entry, I posed some ideas for helping future TESOL teachers transition from the role of student to teacher. To follow up on that, I focus this entry on the next step: how to support those new TESOL educators once they are in the workforce and heading up their own classrooms.
Below are five online resources that focus on providing support for new teachers in different ways: the first two are sites that provide both classroom tools and online communities to help out new teachers; the third is a letter by a teacher to teachers to help them imagine their future selves as teachers; the final two are aimed more at teacher educators, administrators, or mentors to consider as they help support new teachers in their profession.
1. Edutopia’s Resource Roundup for Rookie Teachers
This is an extensive site that has pretty much anything you could think of for new teachers, from preparing, planning, and support to classroom management, technology integration, and communicating with parents. It also hosts a combination of printable forms, blogs, and articles, and even a new teacher chat line where new teachers can ask experienced teachers questions and get help.
2. Scholastic’s New Teacher Survival Guides
Scholastic puts out a month-by month new teacher survival guide that matches up with what tends to be going on during that time of the school year in North America. Need back-to-school ideas? Check out September! Time to brush up on classroom routines coming back after a vacation? Check out January! There’s something for every month of the year.
3. Elena Aguilar’s What I Wish I’d Known as a New Teacher
In this blog post, Elena Aguilar reflects on her 20 years of teaching, and writes five things she wishes she’d known as a young teacher. She describes how she wishes she’d known that teaching would get easier as she went, as well as how important being flexible and finding a quality mentor are to new teachers.
4. West Ed’s Designing Support for Beginning Teachers
In a research brief from think tank West Ed, the authors describe how 1/3 of beginning teachers in the United States quit in their first 3 years of teaching. As such, they provide key types of support that new teachers require, which include personal and emotional support, task or problem-focused support, and support to critically reflect on practice. They also suggest high- and low-instensity ways to provide that support, as well as ways to meet the inevitable challenges that support programs will face. This is an excellent resource for mentor teachers, principals, administrators, superintendents, or teacher educators of any kind.
5. ASCD’s Interview with Dr. Linda-Darling-Hammond
In an issue of Educational Leadership magazine devoted entirely to supporting beginning teachers, Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond was interviewed (Scherer, 2012) about how to prepare and support new teachers for their critical early years in the classroom. Dr. Darling-Hammond mentions the important role that clinical experiences, such as student teaching or practicum-type experiences, play in helping teachers feel prepared for the classroom, instead of unpleasantly surprised. She also discusses ways that teachers and schools can combat misconceptions about teaching, as well as alternatives to help teachers navigate policies that impact them. In terms of attracting candidates that are a truly good fit for the teaching profession, Dr. Darling-Hammond said:
We want in teachers a combination of strong academic ability and the capacities to be very alert and attentive, to care about [students], to be able to understand what [students] are doing and what they mean by it, and to manage classrooms and support [students].
And, to be a good teacher, you have to care more about the performance of your students and how they learn than about your own performance.
While many of the resources above are for teachers in general, I feel that new teachers in all fields and all countries face similar challenges as they begin the profession. What challenges do you face in your teaching context? Do you have any other resources that you have used yourself or to support new teachers in your setting? What do you think makes a “good” teacher? Let us know in the comments!
Scherer, M. (2012). The challenges of supporting new teachers. Educational leadership, 69(8), 18–23.