Fresh out of college and armed with my degree in elementary education, I felt confident that I was prepared to handle whatever the classroom and my first students had in store for me. Of course, along the way I experienced my fair share of ups and downs, as most new teachers do. If your child is spending this year in the warm, excited arms of a first year teacher, here’s what mom and dad may need to know to ensure a happy, successful year for everyone included.
First year teachers are rarely thrown in and left to flounder. They have mentor teachers, get regular evaluations and observations, and are offered feedback and help when they require it. In fact, many seasoned teachers should be so lucky to get the support offered to a first year teacher! If you’re worried that this college graduate has been thrown into the deep end and isn’t getting the support she needs, your concerns are, most likely, unfounded. Most school districts offer first year teachers a great deal of support in order to ensure that they have a successful first year that leads to strong performance in coming years, too.
Most schools or districts don’t leave a first year teacher out on a limb when it comes to planning, preparation, or classroom discipline. If your child attends a school that uses the Arkansas Model for reading instruction, you can rest assured that your child’s teacher has been clued in. If teachers in the early grades use a Green, Yellow, Red behavior chart to keep children apprised of how they’re doing throughout the day, your child’s teacher will know it. First year teachers clued in to school-wide practices that can help your child get the structure and routine that they’re used to or need.
As a first year teacher, I know that I made a few. Expect your child’s teacher to try something, and when it doesn’t work out, to switch gears. Though you may feel frustrated by the flexibility that you and your child are required to offer when dealing with a new teacher, you’ll be happier than if she or he continued with something that wasn’t working all year long just for the sake of habit!
First-year teachers, like most teachers, are always grateful for helping hands. If you can offer your time or support to your child’s classroom as a volunteer, offer your services. First year teachers may be hesitant to ask for help from parents, especially if they want to appear as though they have it all together. However, they may be the ones who can most benefit from a parent coming to read during story time or an extra set of hands during recess. If you can help, offer!
First-year teachers, like most teachers, can benefit from hearing what a good job they’re doing. If you’re pleased with the work your child’s teacher has done, appreciate the extra mile when he or she has put it in, or just want to call attention to something that’s gone right for your son or daughter, share it. Writing a note of thanks can put a smile on any teacher’s face.