It never gets easier being the newbie. You aren’t quite sure where to go. You aren’t quite sure what that person’s name is. You aren’t quite sure where to get that thing you need or who to ask that question. So you improvise, smile at everyone you see, and you try to figure things out. I thought being a new teacher when you are a veteran would be different. Lo and behold, I was wrong. The same anxiety, the same nervousness, the same complete cluelessness has surrounded me since I first set foot at OMS. And yet, this time I know what to do at least to get more comfortable. That’s the benefit of having done this before.
- Reach out. One of the first things I did when I accepted the job was to reach out to my new team and start asking them questions. I was even lucky enough to join them for a day, shadowing the person whose job I would fill. These new connections continue to make the transition so much easier.
- Ask stupid questions. To you the question may seem stupid but probably not to those answering it. I have asked a lot of questions and every single answer has helped me prepare.
- Explore. I have wandered thought the school on several occasions, just trying to find my bearings. I don’t feel quite as lost as I did before.
- Figure out the alarm. I had to move my boxes in on a Sunday, which meant I had to conquer the alarm and a huge metal gate. Sure, it was nerve-wracking but now that I have tried it, I would have no problem doing it again if need be.
- Write stuff down. I have been keeping a note of who I am meeting and what they teach, not that I totally expect to remember them all but it is nice to see the list grow and try to make a concerted effort in remembering people’s names.
- Step up. I was asked to be a part of the district’s personalized learning committee, and although I at first felt like I would not have the time to do it since I am teaching all new things, I knew how beneficial this will be for me. So say yes to new opportunities, I cannot wait to help the district continue its vision.
- Be you. I know that we end up presenting a polished version of who we are at first, we can’t help it, but it is also okay to start relaxing and letting the every day you shine through. Yes, you impressed them with your skills and got the job but now it is time for you to let your guard down a bit so they can get to know you, bad sense of humor and everything.
- Introduce yourself first. Don’t wait for people to come up to you, go up to them. They may not realize you are a new staff member, so approach, introduce, and try to remember their names.
- Be nice. I cannot stress how far simply being nice will get you.
- Figure out traditions. I am so lucky to be a part of a very tight knit team that has a lot of traditions in place, I am not here to change them, I am here to first be a part of them. You may be asked to do things that don’t quite fit your vision, give it a chance before you decide what works for you and what doesn’t.
- Listen first but don’t stay silent. Always be open to new ideas, but do not be afraid to add a few of your own. Show your worth, but also show that others’ ideas have merit.
- Work on your classroom but don’t finish it. I have been busy at work setting everything up and yet the room will be unfinished when we start. I need the students to put the finishing touches on it to make it our room.
- Dream big. I love blogging, but I have never blogged with 138 students. This year we are trying it, not because they have to but because I am passionate about it and crazy enough to try it. What’s the worst that can happen? So dream your big ideas and don’t be afraid to try them even if you are not quite sure how it will fit.
- Trust yourself. Yes, you may have all new curriculum or all new everything but it is okay to listen to your inner voice and make all the new work for you. Don’t try to be someone else, make it your own.
- Bring you with you. I brought my rocking chair an elementary style classroom library with me. Sure, 7th graders may not think that is cool, but it is who I am. I love reading aloud from that chair so I am staying true to that. Don’t feel you have to give up who you are just because you are a new teacher.
Finally, don’t be afraid. I know a new job is terrifying, I am right there in the thick of it, and yet my fear is being replaced with a little bit of thrill, a little bit of giddy, a little bit of excitement. The dreams I have for my new students are starting to fire me up, the passion I have for teaching is pushing me forward. A new adventure awaits and I cannot wait to go on it.
I am a passionate teacher in Wisconsin, USA, who has taught 4, 5th, and 7th grade. Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day. First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press. Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” can be pre-ordered from Corwin Press now. Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.