Wednesday, August 22, 2007

First Year Teacher

" There can be so much tugging at your students' minds and hearts - troubled family situations, changing friendships, uncertainties, doubts, and fears. Be aware of them as a whole person." ~ Karen Katafiasz

It is difficult being a first year teacher.

My first year was way back in 1970. To say that my youthful idealism was tempered by the realities of the classroom would certainly be an understatement. There was so much I needed to learn at that time, but in many respects, it was a much simpler time. New teachers today have many more demands on them from day one.

Here are some links that might be of assistance in helping first year teachers:

New Teacher Resources

Back-to-School Resources
Classroom Management Resources
Behavior Management Resources
Mentor/Coaching Resources
Process Skills Resources
Hot Links for New Teachers


Ed Latham said...

Jim as always, you come up with some great resources. I have a special assignment for you. After reading many "new teacher" links and books, I see a bit of a void.

I see two flavors of "new teacher". One is the fresh youth straight out of the universities ready to change the world. The other is the teacher that has undergone a personal transformation and is ready to experiment and really learn how to excel in the craft (this can happen with time, but frequently a change in job placement can spur such a transformation). In the case of both of these "new teachers" the energy and excitement is there and you can actually feel it when you talk with them. They can change the world!!! Come see them in 10 months. You will still see some of that energy and positiveness, but much of the zeal is gone. Why? They hit a wall.

The wall has existed in education for some time and has been so prevalent that Pink Floyd became quite famous for his musical rendition of that wall. Music that was so full of anger and frustration because that wall was so immovable and resisting. As anyone that has taught for a number of years can attest to, the wall changes and may have different compositions. It may be school policy, it may be administration, it may be parents, it may be a demographic of student, it may be money, it may be a peer, and it may even be the disconnect between real life and "school life". The wall serves as a barrier for the teacher's ambitions, goals, or intentions. It is a sort of social lethargy that seems to feed it's self and prevent individual progress in teachers. I am on a search. Looking for resources I can offer those teachers still looking to over come their walls.

We never took a college course in our trainings called "How to manage the political BS in your schools" and yet many teachers need to tip toe through political land mines often. We never had a course in "Education students while causing social shifts in what the Parents expectations are" yet teachers attempting to practice new strategies that have been proven effective can easily get squashed by parental social pressure. Where are the survival guides or handbooks for dealing with the Walls? If such a text does not exist, I would be overjoyed to join others in creating such a text. Our schools are full of great teachers. Unfortunately, that greatness is often marginalized or minimized by the social, political, or economic juggernaut that is the Public Education Culture in our schools. Almost all teachers did not join the profession to become "...just another brick in the wall" If we are not to become part of the wall, we need a survival guide for living outside the wall.

Jim Burke said...

Ed, you're right, it is an important issue. Enthusiasm and motivation to try new things can be killed by bureaucracy and lack of autonomy. In the end it comes down to trusting classroom teachers.

Today I happened to be working in the same room where a secretary was busily compiling page after page after page of revised curriculum, standards, and rubrics that is to be distributed the first day of school. Increasingly there are more forms, more directives, and precious little time for teachers to actual inspire students and have conversations with other teachers.
If teachers are going to have time and energy to have the capacity building discussions that Fullan speaks of, something has to give somewhere. There is only so much time in the day, and teachers have other non-school roles and responsibilities.

Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against high expectations and organized effort, but it can't be so restrictive as to allow opportunity for joyful and engaged learning.

Anyone else have thoughts on the issue?

Jim Burke said...

Check out this Ning community called WeAreTeachers IMAGINE Community.