We received a lot of great ideas when we asked members this summer to share their best advice for newcomers. Thank you to everyone for offering a hand to those who are entering your building or career for the first time.
Take time for yourself! The stress of the first year is much more than you can ever imagine, but it’s worth it if you take time to relax. Sharon Balzer, C/A,Woodland R-4 High School, Marble Hill
Be kind to everyone. Be a great teacher (regardless of your title): never yell, argue, or use sarcasm with students. Focus on relationships – your students will learn more and work harder. Run the marathon – it’s not a race. Professionally, focus on and develop your areas of talent. Recognize your weaknesses and navigate around them. Jeremy Watt, Science Teacher/Coach/Curriculum Director, Putnam County R-1 Schools, Unionville
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s difficult to be the new person, but you can find someone at your school to help when you’re in a jam. Amber Ridenour, Special Education Teacher, St. Elizabeth R-4
Don’t forget to join MSTA, because they’ve always got your back! Deana Fleming Warrensburg R-6
My advice to a new teacher is: Keep a journal, write in it every day. Write what you did/experienced, even if you just write had a good day. Do it at the start and make it a habit. As the year goes on things will get crazy at times. Make writing about your day a priority so it doesn’t get lost in the grayness. At the end of the year look back through your journal and see how much you’ve grown. Reflect on what you will do differently next year. Write down things that worked great that you want to make sure you do again next year.
Remember we were ALL new at one time and made the same mistakes. Ask for help if you need it, we are willing to help. Teaching is a one man job there’s no one else in your classroom but you. When you’re struggling most of the time no one knows unless you tell us and let us help.
Most important enjoy the year!! Debbi Ritchey, Salem Middle School, Salem R-80
Remember you are more than a number. It’s about the students, be consistent, believe in them and work for the cause, not the applause. Kay Palmer, Kindergarten teacher, Heber Hunt Elementary, Sedalia 200
My advice: Make a list with everything you need to do before open house now. Start now, not the first day back! Tiffany Daly, Fifth Grade, Lexington R-5
Don’t think about decorating your room until you actually see it. Heather Howell, Raytown C-2
Don’t be quick to judge the students, parents, or staff before you know their background and personal situation. When someone “pushes” away, refuses to listen, or makes rude comments; may be testing you. Hurting people – hurt others. The way in which you respond will speak louder than words. Cherie Peters, Visual Arts Educator (K-6), Richland R-4 Schools
You will need more patience than you have ever needed. Believe you have the power to make a difference with students, parents, staff and administrators. Then power on! Meghan Yrigoyen, Southern Boone Co. R-1
Locate a mentor to learn the policies and protocol of your building and department. Ask questions— parking passes, time clocks, how to call in absent, schedules, department meetings, what evaluations are like and when are they, other paperwork attached to the job, holiday parties, emergency procedures, get involved make new friends, be a team player. Sherry Miller, Wentzville R-4 School District, Timberland & Liberty HS
My advice to new teachers…Wear comfortable shoes, and clothes. Be the teacher that is willing to get involved with their students. Dagny Ogle, Willard R-2 Schools
My advice to any new employee of a school district is always be aware of the differences in children and students. Don’t be the teacher that listens solely to the advice of a teacher or staff member that has dealt with that child…no matter their level in school. Be the person that gives them a clean slate chance. Let them show you who they are. Treat them with patience and kindness because you don’t know their backgrounds. Strive to find reason for their actions because often they don’t know why. And, be prepared to help them pick up the pieces of their lives and give them a focus that creates their success. Tina Eisterhold, Gifted & Elementary Art, Osage Co. R-2, Linn Elementary
My advice to new employees would be to spend time building relationships and establishing routines. The more time you spend doing these at the beginning will prevent you having to reiterate expectations throughout the year. James Hunt, 6th Grade Math/Science Teacher, Poplar Bluff R-1 Middle School
The first year will be the hardest, but know that everyone has been new at one point. Create a first-year journal to help you see how far you have grown later. Kerry Henley, Marshall Public Schools
The students have plenty of friends. What they need is a positive mentor. Michael Hemphill, Lebanon Middle School, Lebanon R-3
My advice to new school employees is 1) Find a mentor that you can talk with and to help guide you through the year. 2) Don’t stress over the small details the first year, see what works and what doesn’t. It will make the next year so much easier. Amy McCampbell, Northwestern R-1, Mendon, After School Coordinator, tutor advisor and substitute.
I was a public school teacher in Missouri for thirty years and afterward taught in both Chicago, Illinois and Washington, DC. My advice for new school employees is and has always been to establish rapport with the school building’s office manager* and the head custodian. Both of these individuals have the potential for assisting you as you adjust to your new position in a school. It has been my experience that they are appreciative of anyone showing interest in them and are most helpful when worse comes to worst (and worse WILL COME to worst sooner or later).
*One school office manager was as mean as a junkyard dog, but over time she came to appreciate my willingness to befriend her and, as a result, we had a wonderful working relationship. Needless to say, there were days she came to my assistance when no one else was available or willing. Stephen Randall Roberts, (retired after 42 years as a teacher), Potomac MD