Facing the Unknown: Advice for Teachers Entering a New School

Christian Growth

When I first became a teacher, it did not take long for me to realize that the reality of teaching was much different from my expectations. Whether you are a first-year teacher or just moving to a new school, starting at a new school can cause challenges. As Gillmore (2016), has pointed out, there are many factors that impact first year teachers, including curriculum changes, new educational standards, and the unfamiliarity of the environment, colleagues and school culture.

I believe that two factors in particular have a major impact on teachers at a new school. First, everything is new: the students, physical plant, administration, colleagues, and more. Most importantly, you don’t know your students, and they don’t know you. This is one of the most difficult aspects of the transition, because connecting with students can be difficult until you build mutual trust.

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Second, the school dynamics may be different from what you expected, or from your previous schools. Alan Deutschman’s book says it clearly: Change or die. You must be willing to adjust, but it will take some time for you and your school to adapt to each other. Every school has its particular identity and things not always work the same way as in your former schools.

Considering these difficulties, what things are important to know as a new teacher? While it is good to be strict at first and make sure your students know the boundaries, I would recommend that new teachers also focus on their own behaviors. So what behaviors should you cultivate during your first year?

1) Be patient as you wait for relationships to develop. Developing trust takes time.

2) Be real. Students, parents, and colleagues want to know the real you, so show them who you are and do not pretend to be someone else.

3) Be the teacher. You may develop a strong bond with your students, but remember that because you are their teacher, the relationship should be different from a friendship with a peer.

4) Create partnerships with your students. Students will follow you more easily if they see that you include them as part of the team. This can work even with disciplinary issues.

5) Build connections with parents and colleagues. Once you have your network, you will have stronger support for your plans and objectives.

6) Choose building relationships rather than imposing your opinion, when possible. Truly care for your students, parents and colleagues.

7) Focus on serious problems. There are some issues in your daily work that deserve your attention, but there are others that do not. Be wise in choosing what to worry about and what to let go.

Being a teacher in a new school is not easy. The most important thing you can do is to keep your faith strong in God, and trust him to bring you through.

Note: Article written and posted in English


David Nino is currently serving as the Music director at Shenandoah Valley Academy in Virginia, USA.

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