As a new school year approaches, there’s a group of people who are often neglected in welcoming efforts: brand-new teachers. These teachers, facing the reality of all that teaching involves, may feel a bit shaky. Many have a “new normal” to work through—new school, co-workers, students, parents, expectations, and often, a new area to live in. And that is not counting a new teaching workload. It is all new!
Welcoming get-togethers are much appreciated, but new teachers are grateful for someone to “come alongside” them. God is ever-present. He works mightily through an experienced teacher who has a heart for sharing and helping or through the principal/supervisor who meets regularly, stops in to observe, and encourages along the way. Are you that person? If not, you can be!
What Can a Mentor Provide?
Remember what it was like the first year of teaching? The long hours, the self-doubt, the fear of failing, and the tiredness that triggers an onslaught of emotion?
Satan knows just what to plant in our minds to cause us to feel defeated, unsuccessful, and alone. One way you can encourage your mentee is by regularly sending Bible verses to keep her mind on what is true of our Heavenly Father. “He knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). As in all aspects of our lives, God’s Word is our Support.
Check in after school, before a deadline, or before a new procedure is set. Schedule a regular meeting with planned topics for the first few weeks. Offer suggestions that will help them reach success. Carefully planned bits of information and advice given just when it is needed can save the day!
It can be reassuring to know that the first year is, indeed, the hardest. Help them prioritize the mountain of things to be done into bite-sized pieces. Taking one day or deadline at a time gets things done.
New teachers often say that it is not the teaching that causes their shakiness. After all, Abeka helps make even average teachers do an above-average job. Mentors and a good school handbook can help them get off to a good start and help them handle the things so often at the root of anxiety that first year. What they want most of all is for you to show them the best way to get the following routines and priorities established.
- Preparation for Open House and the first day of school—décor, seating, notes
- Classroom procedures, routines, policies, management
- General procedures such as extra duties, chapels, assemblies, emergency plans
- Recording of procedures such as entering grades, attendance, homework, behavior
That is a lot to become familiar with. Here is some great advice: Look to the Lord and not the load. After all, we are in a spiritual ministry! Our model is Jesus, the Master Teacher. He knows our hearts and our needs, and He hears our frequent calls for help!
Mentoring a new teacher is more than a necessity; it is an opportunity to invest in someone’s life and ministry. Reach out to your principal or administrator to see if they can put you in contact with some new teachers at your school. Administrators, work on starting a mentoring program to pair other veteran teachers with new teachers.