Take a look at the last post I entered here and you’ll get a bit of a feel for how I’ve been doing with my return to the classroom. No, I’m not saying that it is difficult, I’m just saying that getting back into the swing of the planning for, delivery to, and assessment of my students has been a bit time-consuming. I’m really enjoying it, though, and finding that the time away from teh classroom probably helped me to regroup and start fresh.
That is not to say that I feel like a first year teacher again (thankfully!). I still feel like I have a few years behind me, but I also feel like I have a new perspective.
October brings with it all kinds of fun things to consider. Fall is underway, with the leaves all changing colors and the cold wind starting to howl. We’ve all got approximately 9 weeks of school done and are beginning to have thoughts like – “wow, this year is flying by” or “awesome! only a few more weeks until Thanksgiving!”. New teachers, however, might be thinking a few other things as well ….
Dr. Mark Littleton and Dr. Pam Littleton did a study awhile back on “The Evolution of a Teacher“. According to their study, new teachers in October are disillusioned. They are wondering why they wanted to teach in the first place. They are wondering if they will be able to make it through their first year. They are considering not ever teaching again if they do manage to make it through this year. Following is a graph of their findings:
I’ve been thinking about what our responsibility as seasoned educators is to these new teachers. With nothing to back it up except observation, I’ve developed the following graph of the level of support offered to new teachers during their first year:
Look a lot like the original graph? Yes, and even though I’ve taken the liberty to add a little humor into the labels, it actually rings true. Seasoned teachers know what to expect throughout the year. When we start the school year, we make sure we know who the new teachers are, offer them words of advice, maybe give them a few lesson plans, and promise that we’ve got their backs. As the year rolls on, however, we begin to get wrapped up in the running of our own classrooms. At the same time, the new teachers are feeling overwhelmed and often are not seen coming out of their room for weeks at a time. It is when we don’t see them that they are in trouble and they need help.
It is the responsibility of veteran educators to support them through this time, which will last until around April (after all the standardized tests have been administered), when they will begin to feel a new energy and hope for a future in teaching. We must first of all let them know that these feelings they are having are normal and that all new teachers face them. We must then support them through the rest of the disillusionment phase by encouraging them, offering them advice when they ask for it, giving them lesson plans and ideas, and inviting them to observe our classrooms.
The witching hour is upon them – give them garlic to fend off the attack!