Determining how to support new teachers can be difficult. Each new teacher comes from a different background, and it can be beneficial to ask your teachers how you can support them. However, first-year teachers don’t always know what they need because they’re so new. TPT recently conducted a survey where we asked over 1,200 new and experienced educators to reflect on what school leaders can “do to motivate teachers to join their schools and keep them there.”
For new teachers, the results were clear: 74% of new teachers said that more chances to collaborate with teachers in their school would definitely help keep them in the teaching profession, and 68% said they need more professional development.
Professional development can mean a variety of things, so we asked all teachers to think back to their first few weeks of teaching. What training would have helped them to feel more prepared to teach? The results showed that there were many topics teachers wanted more training on.
Based on the data, here are some ways you can start supporting new teachers in your school or district this year and every year.
8 Ideas for Supporting New Teachers
Learn how to support new teachers in your school or district with these helpful strategies. Not only will your teachers feel more confident and prepared to step into the classroom, but it can also help motivate them to stay in the profession.
Offer professional development and training on classroom management and lesson planning.
While there are many topics that the teachers TPT surveyed wanted training on, some were very hands-on and practical. Seventy-seven percent told us that they would have liked more training in classroom management to be successful, and 67% wished they’d had more training in how to plan lessons and classroom activities.
The timing of when you as a school leader train new teachers on this is important as well. Consider providing “relevant training on school policies and procedures before they [new teachers] join.” This way, everyone is on the same page from day one.
These foundational teaching skills are also more important in professional development trainings now due to the pandemic’s upheaval of learning environments in the last few years. It has created a record-high number of teacher vacancies, and many states have relaxed teaching certification requirements to combat the shortage. This means new teachers may need more support over the coming years. Find some strategies and resources you can pass along to your teachers during professional development sessions below.
Give teachers the tools, time, and knowledge they need to get organized and manage their time.
Sixty-four percent of surveyed teachers said more training on time management and organization would have helped them be more prepared to teach from day one. As a school leader, you can not only help teachers develop these important skills through professional development, but also by creating space in your school’s structure and schedule to allow for planning time.
This way, teachers have the time and space they need to lesson plan, research, prep and organize materials, and schedule out their class activities. You can also provide your teachers with these tools that they can use to help improve their time management and organization.
It can also be beneficial that some of this planning time is collaborative. One teacher recommends that administrators “give teachers a dedicated planning period where they can meet with their team to plan units and talk about what’s working, not working, and how to change it up.”
Develop school-wide social-emotional learning strategies and programs to support student behavior.
Seventy percent of teachers want more support on social-emotional learning. While you can certainly provide professional development to your teachers to help them build SEL into their classes, lesson plans, and curriculum, there are also ways you as an administrator can incorporate social-emotional learning into your school-wide culture. This can range from community circles, mindfulness during morning meetings, or infusing SEL strategies and positive behavior supports in announcements, school assemblies, and more. Explore these articles for more ways you can lead your school community through social-emotional learning.
Support new teachers in engaging parents and caregivers in students’ learning.
Through this survey, teachers also shared that they feel less prepared to engage caregivers in their students’ learning, with 54% of respondents only feeling somewhat prepared, and 4% not feeling very prepared. As the school leader, you set the tone for caregiver communication. Fostering relationships with caregivers is also often an important part of a school leader’s job, meaning you have a wealth of experience and information you can draw upon and share with your teachers. However, there are often some specific strategies that teachers can use. Pass along this checklist and these tips to help your educators.
Create and support mentorship programs.
Of the 1,200+ teachers TPT surveyed, 74% of new teachers (and 51% of experienced teachers) wanted more chances to collaborate with teachers in their school. A great way to do this is a mentorship program. One new teacher we heard from said that school leaders should “assign a mentor to new teachers for the first year so they have someone to go to for help and advice.” This kind of collaboration can give experienced teachers a fresh perspective and foster professional growth for new teachers. For examples of the types of wisdom experienced teachers have for first-year teachers, check out the blog below.
While mentorship can provide benefits to both teachers, it is important to remember that the mentor will ultimately do more work to support their mentee. As such, we heard from teachers with 10+ years of experience that they’d like for school leaders to “provide time for teachers to work with an inexperienced teacher while being compensated.”
If your school cannot afford direct monetary compensation at this time, consider providing benefits that have a concrete monetary value like additional paid time off, or partnering with a large business like a grocery store or gas station to provide useful gift certificates.
Support educators of color, and provide guidance on how teachers can incorporate more inclusive practices for diverse learners in their classrooms.
It’s no surprise that 67% of teachers were interested in how to incorporate more inclusive practices into their classrooms. According to the Pew Research Center, U.S. public school teachers are much less racially diverse than their students. This means that providing professional development opportunities, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) trainings, and diverse resources to teachers is more important than ever to students’ success. Use these resources to get you started.
Additionally, as an administrator, it’s important for you to develop an accepting, diverse, and inclusive group of educators to teach your students. The success of students of color can depend on it. In a 2015 study, Lindsay, Blom, and Tilsley found that students of color “often perform better on standardized tests, have improved attendance, and are suspended less frequently (which may suggest either different degrees of behavior or different treatment, or both) when they have at least one same-race teacher.” Consider what you can do as an administrator to support and retain educators of color. Here are some tips to begin:
Regularly connect with and give feedback to new teachers.
As mentioned earlier, you can support new teachers by both asking them what they need and by being proactive in offering ideas and solutions – especially as the external pressures that teachers face increase. Sixty-five percent of new teachers said regular feedback from their school leader would help them feel more respected, valued, and supported, and this can go a long way towards retaining teachers. Establish a regular cadence that works for the level of support your individual educators need, and be open to adjusting it as teachers move through periods where they may need more or less support.
Ensure that the feedback you give is constructive. This teacher’s tip lists one way to do so: “First, watch, observe, and listen. Second, provide feedback as needed — whether it’s making a positive statement or offering a suggestion for improvement.”
In addition to giving feedback on teachers’ work, it’s important to check in and see how teachers are doing mentally as they face many stressors, both personal and professional. Find the tools you need for your next teacher check-in below.
Prepare your teachers on how to incorporate your school’s technology into classroom lessons.
Through our survey, we learned that over half of teachers (54%) felt only somewhat or not at all prepared to incorporate technology into their lessons. Given the wide variety of software and programs available to schools and educators, this makes sense. As an administrator, one way you can help your teachers bring interactive learning into their classrooms is by providing focused training on how to use interactive technology to enrich instruction like Easel by TpT. Teachers also value differentiated professional development based on their needs and skill levels.
As leaders, you know your schools best, and each school is going to have different needs and priorities. It’s important to think strategically about what supports for new teachers you already have and which new supports would have the greatest impact on your community of educators. Rest assured that you don’t need to do everything at once. Take a step back and consider one teacher’s advice: “Ask the teachers what would benefit them most in their classrooms. Obviously not everything can be done, but having that teacher’s input makes them feel heard and seen.“
From there, you can create a roadmap that will lead your school, and maybe even your district, to success. And your success as a school leader will ripple out, potentially attracting the 89% of teachers who want to work for a school leader who is inspiring and supportive. A leader like you.
Learn more about the ways you can support, retain, and attract new teachers by downloading the September 2022 TPT State of Education report.