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Addie Gaines

I enjoyed your essay. I, too, have been thinking about how to best support my first year teachers, teachers new to the district and teachers new to their grade levels. In my school, after four years of total stability and no change in my 8 K-3 classrooms, I have 2/8 teachers in their first year, 3/8 teachers new to the district and 5/8 teachers in a position they have never taught in before (some people are counted more than once in case my math is not adding up for you.)

My primary concern is my first year teachers. I want to be sure I am in their rooms frequently and early in the year (we will be going back for our third week of school after Labor Day). I want to build a sense of trust with those teachers, so that if they are having difficulty or questions or need feedback or anything else, they will not be reluctant to come to me for help. It is not a "gotcha" situation if someone comes to me and says, "I am having a hard time." I would rather have a teacher talk to me about the situations that are troubling them, rather than letting them go and leaving it to me to discover there is a problem or try to guess what the problem is. I have tried to set the stage before school ever started that I chose our new hires from a terrific pool of applicants because I was confident in their abilities and believed they were the best ones for the positions and I am invested in doing whatever it takes to help them achieve success as educators (which, of course, translates into student proficiency.) But, I know that just "telling" people this is not enough...my actions also need to show my level of commitment to their success. I have to remember that it takes time to build trust with people, so I cannot automatically expect that people who are new to our school will automatically have the same trust in me as those with whom I have had the opportunity to build a relationship over the course of several years. That is where it is so important to be the person of character and consistency. The person that displays congruency in what is said and done. Or, in other words, walking the talk.

I have been in and out of all of the classrooms multiple times and have made the effort to be very visible in the building, reinforcing our expectations for student conduct and learning and building a community of learners among our entire school family. This, too, has proven challenging so far, as we have a lot of transfer students this year who are not acclimated to "the way things are" in our school.

I need to remind myself what I told one of my first year teachers about her classroom of active youngsters..."Know your expectations, accept where the kids are (and the fact that they are kids) and work to bridge the gap between the two. Teach them what you expect. You can't simply demand that they be a certain way. Be patient with them and be patient with yourself (sometimes the hardest person to be patient towards,) but also be firm, consistent and persistent. It takes time to get to the point where you are satisfied that you have the community of learners you desire."

So, here's to Patience and Persistence. Never give up. The stakes are too high for our teachers and our students. Have a great new year!

tfteacher

"I have to remember that it takes time to build trust with people, so I cannot automatically expect that people who are new to our school will automatically have the same trust in me as those with whom I have had the opportunity to build a relationship over the course of several years."

I suggest that it is not time that will get you the trust you desire; you have to earn it! And visiting classrooms doesn't do that.

How I would love to have a principal come into my room, with a lesson that I get to critique after it's over. Oh, and this evaluation I provide will be summative, her job depending on my evaluation.

I think principals need to come down off their high-horse and realize that they have no idea how to close the achievement gap, and doing whatever the Education zeitgeist suggests is not the answer.

Oh, and principals need to stop modeling behavior management in staff meetings using the staff as the students. It is mind-numbingly embarrassing!

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