New Teacher? Find Help and Inspiration Here
Is your first classroom – brimming over with middle grades students – just weeks away? Teachers writing at MiddleWeb have ideas to help you launch your new career!
In a hurry? Check out 25 of MiddleWeb’s Best New Teacher Resources. And here are more quick ideas worth sharing:
✻ Not a newbie yourself but down the hall from one? Amber Chandler’s Supporting New Teachers at ShareMyLesson gives mentors and everyone else helpful suggestions.
✻ Sara Ketcham, writing at NEA Today, explains how In First Year of Teaching, Acting More, Reacting Less, Can Reduce Anxiety.
✻ So You Wish It Had Been Different: Three First-Year Struggles is a Teaching Channel post by former National Teacher of the Year Sarah Brown Wessling. Save to read next June or read now for a heads-up on making your first year closer to what you hope for.
What makes middle graders special?
The developmental needs of tweens and young teens are unique, says popular professional development consultant and former teacher Rick Wormeli, and flourishing as a middle grades teacher requires special skills. In this MiddleWeb post he starts by offering five strategies tailored to young adolescent learners. (Find lots more from Rick – from handling homework to whether to befriend students – here at MiddleWeb.)
Middle school students, in particular, are a unique breed, says teacher and consultant Jennifer Gonzalez, and they need teachers who are tuned in to the intense dichotomies of adolescent life and learning. She offers teachers new to the middle level helpful tips in 8 Things I Know for Sure about Middle School Kids.
After 20+ years of teaching, Cheryl Mizerny knows middle school is where she’s meant to be. In her MiddleWeb blog, It’s Not Easy Being Tween, Cheryl shares six aspects of young adolescents that make middle-level teaching the toughest job she’s ever loved. (Also see her article “How to Become a Tween-Centered Teacher.”)
In a MiddleWeb interview, Tween Teacher Heather Wolpert-Gawron notes that while many teachers avoid the middle grades, others like herself are captivated by the energy and emotion of young adolescents. She suggests strategies for building a classroom community to suit the young adolescent mind and body. And in a more recent post, Heather uses her own national survey data to argue that every teacher, new or veteran, should “Bring Your Personality and Humor on Day One.”
Find more of our favorite MiddleWeb posts highlighting the remarkable qualities of young adolescent students and the ways we adults can best support them as they grow in this collection of our most popular posts for novice teachers.
What’s ahead in the classroom
We asked teaching consultant Annette Breaux to write about three of the most pressing questions new teachers have in the weeks before they open their classroom doors to students for the first time. Here’s her advice on discipline, classroom management, and daily procedures. Annette teams with Todd Whitaker in one of our most popular articles, What an Effective Teacher’s Classroom Looks Like – not physical layout but classroom culture.
Teaching expert Regie Routman has written a delicious article for MiddleWeb readers, blending two of her greatest passions: teaching and cooking. Her Optimal Learning Model will new teachers looking for a solid foundation as they launch their careers. If you teach writing, you’ll also want to see her advice on removing roadblocks.
When teacher Marsha Ratzel writes her Welcome Back to School letters to parents and caretakers this fall, she will include some basics. But she also wants them to know exactly what their children can expect in her classroom: challenge, support and concern.
To get the latest news from MiddleWeb, drop by the website for our weekly additions and subscribe to the MiddleWeb SmartBrief for free, thrice weekly emails for grades 4-8 educators.
Content area prescriptions
Several MiddleWeb bloggers share ideas gleaned from their subject area practice. Here are their suggestions for new teachers.
As school begins this year, quite a few educators will face a new and potentially daunting assignment: Teach STEM – Science + Technology + Engineering + Math. In her STEM by Design blog curriculum expert Anne Jolly offers help – six essential tips that can help “sudden” STEM educators survive a challenging start and achieve success.
Our three original Future of History bloggers – Jody Passanisi, Shara Peters, and Aaron Brock – got together to brainstorm what they wished they had known during their first year of teaching social studies. They tackle curriculum, classroom setup, teachers toolkit, and more.
Too often co-teaching teams, no matter the content area, simply take turns as they focus on general student needs, rather than blending their strengths to serve all the learners in the room. Co-teaching coach Elizabeth Stein, our Two Teachers in the Room blogger, shares ideas and resources to build strong partnerships.
In a MiddleWeb guest article, Vermont science coordinator Kathy Renfrew shares her vision of how middle grades teachers and coaches can be NGSS Superheroes: leaders in developing science classrooms that are student-driven and focused on teaching scientific subjects in ways that relate to the real world. (Also see Kathy’s new science blog. Her first post shares ideas about blending science and children’s literature.)
Books for newbies, reviewed here
MiddleWeb’s book review collection is a gateway to the knowledge and know-how of expert educators. One to read right now is the review of Julia G. Thompson’s The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide: Ready-to-Use Strategies, Tools & Activities for Meeting the Challenges of Each School Day 3rd ed. Find lots more timely suggestions in the review of another classic, What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know, 3rd ed. by Dave F. Brown and Trudy Knowles.
Discover The 12 Touchstones of Good Teaching: A Checklist for Staying Focused Every Day in Bryan Goodwin and Elizabeth Ross Hubbell’s book. And find a guide to your first year in 2016’s Your First Year: How to Survive and Thrive as a New Teacher by Todd Whitaker, Madeline Whitaker and Katherine Whitaker.
You Can Do This: Hope and Help for New Teachers features Robyn R. Jackson looking back at her experiences as a novice teacher, considering school/life balance, relationships with parents, and more. For a look at using technology to help build relationships, read the review of Standing in the Gap: Empowering New Teachers Through Connected Resources by Lisa Dabbs and Nicol R. Howard.
If teaching reading is part of your assignment, be sure to check out a pair of lesson-rich books from consultants Gravity Goldberg and Renee Houser, both former staff developers at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop. Reviewer Pam Hamilton says the What Do I Teach Readers Tomorrow set (fiction & nonfiction) will be a life saver for new teachers.
Speaking of Lisa Dabbs, although her weekly #ntchat (New Teacher Chat) on Twitter retired earlier in 2017 after seven years, lots of helpful educators still use the hashtag to share tips and advice. You’ll be amazed, in fact! You can also get Lisa’s great ideas at Facebook and hear her conversations at BAM Radio. Find out what else Lisa is up to at her website, Teaching with Soul.
When your first year of teaching turns really stressful, remember to connect with Roxanna Elden. The teacher and author of See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers recalls her challenges as a first year teacher and has developed a series on free emails to help newbies. Launched in 2015, the New Teacher Disillusionment Power Pack will appear every few days for a month.
You can also sign up for Roxanna’s The School Year Starter Kit (Or, Everything You Should Have Learned at New Teacher Orientation), “a free, three-day email series meant to help rookies cut through information overload and focus on the few, basic things that will most help them prepare for the first day of teaching.”
Roxanna tackles a necessary if less frequently addressed topic in Is the first-year teacher in your life crying in the car? Here are five things you should know (Hechinger Report, December 2015). Something to share with family and friends.
Larry Ferlazzo, teacher, author, and tireless curator of his Websites of the Day, offers What Educators Wish They Knew When They Began Teaching at his Education Week Teacher blog, Classroom Q&A. The three-part series featuring comments by education leaders joins earlier posts Advice to New Teachers From Veterans and his classroom management collection. In a June 2016 post, Ferlazzo shares the views of four veteran educators in Classroom Rules – Ways to Create, Introduce & Enforce Them. Limited access to EdWeek Teacher is free with guest registration.
Discover a treasure trove of video advice about managing those first critical classroom weeks (and beyond) at the Teaching Channel. The free site is packed with videos featuring teachers in action, including a series, The New Teacher Survival Guide, that’s well worth viewing. You can search the website by the guide title or age or subject area. Also at the Teaching Channel is Back-to-School Countdown: How to Build Classroom Culture, a vlog series from Sarah Brown Wessling.
Get a taste of ASCD’s Educational Leadership journal with What I Wish My Professors Had Told Me by Jennifer Collins. Also in the May 2016 issue is Caring for Teachers by Carol Ann Tomlinson. Find more locked and unlocked articles here. Among other things, ASCD also offers a free twice-monthly email newsletter, ASCD Express. You can check out the ASCD Express “Tips for New Teachers” archive here.
Tune in to BAM! Internet Radio to catch helpful discussions from educators, for educators. Conversations include New Teachers: Three Things They Didn’t Teach You in Education School, What Savvy Teachers Know About Managing Disruptive Student Behavior, and Rethinking Boundaries Between Teachers and Students: Tough Teacher, Trusted Friend Or…
And, finally, have you added ‘teacher voice’ to your list of concerns? Find an explanation of why teachers can face severe hoarseness and how to avoid it in Teacher Voice Problems Are an Occupational Hazard. Here’s How to Reduce the Risk by Cindy Long in NEA Today.
Do you have favorite free or low-cost new teacher resources? Please share them in a comment, below.