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New Teacher Tips – How Teachers Can Foster Postive and Collaborative Relationships
I recently interviewed Gini Cunningham, author of New Teacher’s Companion: Practical Wisdom for Succeeding in the Classroom, about how teachers can work under tight time and curriculum constraints yet still maintain a positive relationship with faculty and other teachers. I asked Gini for some advice and suggestions on how teachers and especially new teachers can foster more positive and collaborative relationships so they don’t feel professionally isolated. Here’s what Gini Cunningham had to say:
1.) What are some things new teachers can do to reduce stress? Do you have any suggestions for routines or techniques they can use?
Teaching well is high stress. The best help comes from a worthy and dedicated mentor. This does not mean fragments of 20 colleagues, but a Start-to-Finish Mentor who cares deeply about you and student learning.
How to find him/her: Walk around the school, listen to lessons/engagement/student conversations. Ask him/her and evaluate: Does he listen, support, advise and enrich?
Is s/he organized?
Does s/he love the profession?
The key to teaching success is being organized from the start with a clear vision of goals and outcomes for student learning. None of this can be accomplished without excellent discipline and expectations to follow rule procedures. The New Teacher’s Companion provides details for doing all of this, plus ideas for maintaining fairness and accountability for each child.
2.) How can new teachers maximize their support system whether it is a mentor or a colleague?
Listen, ask for help, sort through ideas that will work and politely shelve those that won’t.
Avoid nagging, complaining and grumbling and expect the same from your colleague. If the conversation is a drag, it will not increase the quality of teaching.
College conversations should be based on strategies and techniques, exam if student work, data analysis based on student work. Enrich yourself and your mind, share ideas and borrow them too.
3.) What can new teachers or teachers new to school do to bond with their colleagues?
New teachers must be friendly yet firm. They certainly have fresh insights but lack of experience can prevent respect. Accept it when you don’t know; ask for help from the helpful.
Avoid “In my old school…” and phrases of this kind. Let excellence speak for you and your ideas.
Engage in activities such as textbook adoption, standards-based assessments, and other academic pursuits.
Be on time (which really means at least 15 minutes early), dress professionally, speak and act as a positive role model for students and teachers, organize your classroom to function efficiently, stay positive and considerate of students, colleagues, etc.
Don’t be discouraged if some veterans aren’t thrilled with your enthusiasm. Someone at the school loves what you do and the fact that you belong to that school. Find him/her and soar.
4.) How can new teachers maintain a professional relationship with other teachers despite confrontations and other feelings?
It’s hard to stay negative with a positive, professional colleague. Your actions speak loudly. Dedication to work, devotion to students and the desire to work with respected colleagues should bring rewards.
If the school is completely negative, most often a direct reflection of the administration, transferring next year may be the answer, especially if you are sure that you are not adding to the negative atmosphere.
Wake up every day with a Full Pie – functioning at 100% capacity with physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual strength.
5) What are some of the ways new teachers can collaborate?
The most essential keys to collaboration include:
o Focus on student learning
o Organized use of time
o Timely meetings, so that the agenda is neither empty nor redundant
o Meetings that start and end on time
o No side tracking on topics
o No accommodation for items “Out of Our Control”
o Positive outlook and attitude
o Respect for students, their parents, and your colleagues and administration
o Belittle those who dominate or those who roll their eyes; make sure everyone feels accepted and valued
Buy a journal and start daily reflections including what went well, what needs to change and what’s next. Think about student behavior, attitude and learning. Make notes that will help you in the future. Remind yourself that your work and effort is definitely making a difference in the lives of your students.
Add artifacts of student work – the perfect to the not so much.
Think, write, share, prepare for tomorrow and for next year.
Gini can also be reached by email at [email protected]
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