Hi! It's Meredith from Diary of a First Year Teacher. For those of you who don't know me, I just finished up my first year as a second grade general education teacher in New York City. I am beginning next year on a new adventure of a 3rd grade special education teacher. Same school, new position. I am so excited to be swapping posts with Liz. We both finished our first year this year, and we are ready to dispel some myths about first year teachers!!
There are a million posts out there that talk all about the mistakes first year teachers make. I promise you, this post is not to say that I didn't make my share of mistakes. I definitely did. But, I can also promise you there is a lot that first year teachers do right. When I was looking for jobs, no one would hire a first year teacher. "We are looking for someone with more experience" was the common line. UMMM... how am I supposed to get experience if no one will hire me I griped. I knew I had a lot to offer. Here are my top five reasons why you should take a chance on a first year teacher:
1. They have the energy and the drive to learn.
I found my school, and my director was willing to take a chance on me. I am so grateful to him for the opportunity. He recognized that I was young, but I was smart and driven. He knew I had a bright future. He said to me this year that he hired me because I was smart and had the energy to turn that into the skills of a great teacher. I was ready, and I was going to prove to him that I could be a great teacher.
2. They are a blank slate.
My school LOVES PD. We have a bajillion hours of PD. We have a full-time PD staff. One for writing, ELA and math. As a grade team, we have a weekly PD lunch meeting. They each come on on a rotating basis, so we see them each once every three weeks. First year teachers (or anyone new to the school) were given even more than that. I was a blank slate. I came in with no biases. I was willing to learn and work with PD. PD helped me to set up my classroom in the way that I wanted, but with their goals as a school in mind. Which leads me to number 3:
3. They are willing to ask for help.
There is no "closed door" policy or pride with a first year teacher. We need help! If a school provides a mentor or support, we are ready to improve! I improved so quickly because I would ask PD to support me in my lesson planning. I went to the school psychologist to ask for tips about a student. I know there are a lot of veteran teachers that do this, too. If both the veteran teachers and new teachers can collaborate, think of the successful classrooms we could run!!
4. They are dedicated.
It is simple. We know we are going to have to spend a million hours in our classrooms. We are willing to spend that time. No shortcuts.
5. They are tech-savvy.
Okay, I admit, there are many veteran teachers and bloggers on here that are WAY WAY WAY better at technology than I am. However, I have heard a lot of complaints that the teachers in my school who have been doing this for 25 years don't use technology effectively. The parents in my school are young. Our kids are tech-savvy. My teaching methods didn't need to evolve with technology, they started that way.
And a bonus: they love teaching!!!
No, that is not exclusive to first year teachers, but it is worth mentioning. Teaching is what I want to do. My passion shows.
My advice to hiring teams: hire that first year teacher. Take a chance on them. I know you will be surprised by how great they are.
Stop by my blog to check out Liz's post and see my journey as a first year teacher!