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Career Questions: New School

Tingley-021 color This has been a tumultuous year nationally in education, but on the home front, in our local schools, many teachers have simply continued the daily activities of helping kids learn, working with colleagues, and planning for next year.  We’re going to end the month with a few career questions as teachers reflect on the past year and prepare over the summer for next fall.

Q:  I’ve been teaching for ten years.  Next fall I’ll be starting out at a new school, and believe it or not, I’m feeling a little nervous.  How can I start out on the right foot?

A:  Even for a veteran, starting fresh in a new school will present some challenges … and some opportunities.  Here are some quick tips:

1) Learn the new school’s protocols as quickly as possible.  If you are in a new school in the same district, many protocols will be the same (calendar, schedule, grading system, programs, etc.), but some may be different (discipline procedures, expectations, working in teams,
for example).  Make friends with the office secretaries.  If you are starting in a new district, be sure you have all your new books and materials to review over the summer.

2) Get to know your colleagues by having lunch in the faculty room, not in your classroom, or joining faculty social outings.  Volunteer for
one committee or extra assignment (but not more than one or two because you need to focus on adapting to the change).

3) Refuse to criticize your former school or its leadership.  If changing schools was your choice (as opposed to the result of staff cuts), remain noncommittal about your reasons for leaving your former school.  Say something like, “I just felt it was time for a change” or “I’m Fresh-start only 10 miles from home instead of 30” or “I’ve always wanted to work with a team of teachers” rather than “My last principal was an idiot.”  Keep your own counsel at the beginning until you get to know people better.

4) By the same token, if you had a great experience in your last school, take care not to continually point out how things there were a lot better – discipline, administrative support, schedule, etc.  Maybe all these things were better, but no one in your new school wants to hear it.  I once worked with an administrator who started every sentence with, “In my old school ….”  It wasn’t long before we all wished he were back in his old school.

Starting fresh in a new school can be a little challenging, but it can also be a real opportunity for growth and renewal.  With ten years’ experience, you will have a lot to offer your new school.  One thing doesn’t change, and it’s the most important thing – what happens in the classroom.  Good teaching strategies and a strong rapport with your students can quickly establish your reputation in a new environment.  This could be a great year.


  BAM BTW:  As promised, the discussion about today’s parents is live on BAM Radio Network and featured on the Educators Channel: http://www.bamradionetwork.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=35&Itemid=65.

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