Thursday, August 25, 2011

learning the ropes: ask, ask, ask

Yesterday I met with two teachers who will be teaching new curriculum in their 7th grade class, and I asked them the question I've been asking all the teachers I run into lately, "What advice would you give first year teachers?" They had a great response - don't assume you should know everything.

What they meant by that was that it is natural to want to portray yourself as "in the know," to have everything under control. But they each said they spent far too much time their first year of teaching trying to figure things out on their own that would have been much easier if they had just asked someone. From things as simple as "where do we keep extra pencils, tissues, paper, staples, etc?" and "how do I make copies?" to bigger questions like "what are the grading policies and procedures?" and "how does the school/team log communication with parents?"

No doubt some of you have already completed new teacher orientation, and if you're anything like I was, your head is spinning and maybe, at some point, refused more new information. That's ok! But what I've found in working with teachers is that the new teachers that were willing to ask questions ended up being the most successful. You can't know everything the first day. So giving yourself permission to ask lots of questions can ease those overwhelming first days.


  1. Another good resource is the book, The First Days of School by Harry Wong. It gives lots of practical advice for how to manage those first days in the classroom. Many districts give this book to their new teachers-- at least they did that in the good old days when budgets weren't so tight. So, if you didn't get one for free, you might want to pick it up on your own.

  2. @LindaD Great suggestion, Linda. That is a very helpful book for new teachers!