Wednesday, March 12, 2014

First Year Teachers who Defeat Discouragement

The National Education Association, “estimates that one-third of all new teachers leave after three years, and 46 percent are gone within five years.”  This is a startling number when one considers that number of teachers who will retire within the next ten years.  It’s time to have a serious discussion about the factors that cause teachers to be discouraged.  Let’s address some of the issues by spending more time on solutions and understanding how to make educating students a national priority.  Too often teachers feel stuck and defeated because they are not totally prepared for working in a real school environment. 

So here are some solutions.  During the first year school districts must surround new teachers with master teachers who can encourage them. Very often new teachers are thrown into schools without a full understanding of the culture of the school.  The key to a teachers success is letting them know that they are not alone.  It is great for a new teacher to have someone who they can have a conversation with throughout the week.  There should be a special time when the new teacher can ask questions without the fear of being judged.  It is also great to have a college professor that a new teacher can call on from time to time too. 
First year teachers need more tools, mentors and ongoing preparation to support reminders:

1.  Let them know that teaching gets better over time. Don't give up.

2.  A mentor who can help them to brainstorm and identify alternative responses to different classroom situations

3. Surround themselves with supportive staff

4. Spend time having a general conversation with students outside of the classroom to encourage enthusiasm for learning

5.  Read books and listen to MP3 recordings that help you to stay motivated to teach

6. Focus on your fitness to endure the stress

7. Work to incorporate different learning styles in your instruction.

Your enthusiasm as a teacher is one of the greatest ways to move your class toward success. They will only receive information when they know that you are making investments in their success. Keep searching for different interactive activities that you can implement each day. Your students will benefit from the different learning styles that you are incorporating into your instruction.  There is a lot that you can find out about yourself and your students by trying different teaching methods.

It is important to identify teachers who will support you.  The best teachers are the ones who tell you what you can do rather than what you cannot do. You should align yourself with teachers who value seeing new teachers grow into their position.  These are the teachers who know how to communicate with students.  They realize that each school can have its own culture.  Don’t place limits on opportunities to learn see your students in different community locations.  Go to a community event or to a sporting event to observe what raises their enthusiasm.  You can also help out in an after school program where you can provide additional support in a fun environment.

There are some great internet resources that can be an aid to your instruction.  You can join several teachers and education groups on the social network named Linkedin.  You can use other resources such as Youtube, Khan Academy and TedX. These websites offer educational videos on a variety of topics.  Some of the videos can serve as a great motivation to teach at a high level. You may also find ways to incorporate videos into your instruction. It is a great way to engage students.

Don’t forget to continue to work on your teaching skills.  The first year teaching is just a stepping stone to a career that can be filled with exciting experiences.  Every day you will have an opportunity to witness your students as they grow intellectually, emotionally and socially. Each K12 grade level offers different challenges and you must continue to research to maximize your students learning potential.  Ask you student questions that will get them to think about the future and how things will be different.  Get your students to regularly use their imagination. Stay focused on your goal to teach and you will have success.  There is a wonderful reward for the time that you invest in helping students to reach their full potential.  Dr. Stephen Jones is a professional development presenter and author of the Seven Secrets of How to Study at or email

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