Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Teacher Support on a Budget

I think we can all agree on the validity and effectiveness of teacher mentor programs, both in getting new teachers better prepared at a faster rate and in keeping teachers in our schools, which has an economic benefit as well. Unfortunately, we can all take a look at shrinking budgets and see support programs like mentoring being put on the chopping block. We also know that December and January can be truly low points in the year for new teachers--they've been working really hard for months and the end of the year isn't close enough to boost their spirits.

So here are a few ideas for helping new staff members feel more included. They don't replace quality ongoing mentorship, but they can at least help build a relationship and support system.

1. Include new teachers in end of the year meetings, student orientations, and classroom visits. Better yet, be your new teacher's sub for a day so they can visit other classrooms and connect with experienced teachers.
2. Invite new teachers to professional workshops--perhaps waiving the fee or creating a small informal book study group.
3. Introduce new teachers to subject and grade level colleagues--and consider hosting team building or getting to know you activities throughout the year
4. Include information about new staff in newsletters. Go beyond the fall introduction and feature the new teacher's interests or hobbies.
5. Continue to provide orientation and mentoring opportunities as much as possible. Even hosting a mid-year new teacher tea or getting an experienced teacher to "check in" on the new teacher can help them know they are not alone!

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