50 Yard Line for New Teachers – Help to the End Zone!
We’re about half way through the school year. For seasoned educators, many know the ebb and flow of the year, the “feel” of the various months, the possibilities of what a snow day might mean. But for new teachers, getting to the half way point, the 50 yard line, might seem overwhelming! “I’m only half way!” might be the audio running through their head. To help new teachers gain momentum & have the energy and motivation for a great second semester and make it to the end zone, have them reflect on relationships and routines.
Identify a student which whom they have connected. It’s important to start with one student (start small, not overwhelming). Ask the new teacher to consider the following: What is this student’s personality like? How did you connect with this student? What specifically did you do? Are there specific things you say to this student? When do you connect with this student (before class, during small group instruction, after class, etc)? What do you think the student appreciates about the relationship they have with you?
What student might you connect with next? Once the new teacher has thought about the success of a relationship with one student and WHY it has been successful, they are ready to replicate those efforts with others. Consider asking some of the following: Why this next student? What is this student’s personality like? When you think about what worked with the first student, what might you do similarly? What might you do differently? When and where might you connect with this student? In all of these questions, you’re helping the new teacher make a plan to build relationships with students and reflect on how and why they are doing this. This can be replicated throughout the year.
Consider a routine that can save time and energy. Help the new teacher reflect on routines and procedures from the first half of the year. They might not know what this means. You might have to ask a lot of probing questions, such as the following. What are some of the procedures or day-to-day activities that seem like they took a lot of time? (not routines yet) What took less time? (You might give ideas here – sharpening pencils, recording homework, transitioning from center to center, coming into class, etc.) If the teacher identifies things that worked well, ask them to reflect on why the routines worked well. How did students know what to do?
Choose a routine to teach students. After discussing things that took a lot of time, help the new teacher identify one routine that, if it worked perfectly, would save time and energy. (just one routine!) Next, break that routine into steps, what to do first, next, after that, etc. Help the teacher create a plan to teach the routine to students. Ideally, have the steps, along with a picture for each step, posted as the routine gets taught. Direct Instruction works best here; introduce the routine and tell why it’s important, model it, have students practice it with feedback, then monitor as they do the routine independently. Check in with the teacher to inquire how it’s going. There should be time saved and more energy for teaching.
The half way point, or 50 yard line, is exciting, and it can also be overwhelming. By helping new teachers focus on relationships and routines, we can help them not only see the end zone, but have a clear path to get there without bruises (or a concussion!). 🙂