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How to Meet the Unique Needs of New and Veteran Teachers

All educators have the same main goal — to foster a love of learning in their students. And while the goal may be the same, new teachers need different types of support than veteran educators. Let’s look at some common needs among each group.

New Teachers

When new graduates enter the education field as teachers, they are bursting with enthusiasm while also experiencing nervousness about their new responsibility. Here are five supports new teachers need:

  • Classroom management training. One of the best ways to set new teachers up for success is providing them classroom management training so they can get a sense of control and reduce the stress of trying to accomplish so much during their limited time with students

  • Opportunity to observe teachers with good classroom management. It can be helpful to connect a new teacher with another educator who demonstrates strong classroom management skills

  • Freedom to say “no” to extra responsibilities. Of course, all educators fill many roles throughout the day — and into the evening and on weekends — but new teachers need to know it’s okay to not say “yes” to every extracurricular activity or additional task they’re offered. Administrators should create an environment that demonstrates support for a balanced start to a young teacher’s career.

  • Guidance on fostering family engagement. Effective education moves beyond the classroom and into the home. This doesn’t necessarily mean extensive homework assignments. It’s partnering with parents or guardians to ensure that an activity like reading is (or becomes) part of the family dynamic, interaction between the parents and teacher, and general familial interest in the student’s academic efforts

  • Access to free classroom resources: New teachers are stretching their paycheck to cover classroom supplies and other expenses related to starting a career. Pointing them in the direction of high-quality FREE resources can offset some of those expenses

Veteran Teachers

Educators are more demoralized than ever before. After teaching through a pandemic, they’re playing catch-up to help students recoup significant learning loss — especially in underserved populations.

And while teachers deserve higher pay in recognition of their expertise, experience and dedication, this isn’t a reality in many districts. Since pay increases and additional personal days aren’t an option due to budgetary restrictions and a lack of substitutes, administrators need to find other ways to encourage and retain their valuable veteran teachers:

  • A reminder of why they chose a teaching career. This can be as simple as having them coach their newer colleagues or as extensive as serving as a mentor. Seeing the spark in the eyes of new educators can re-ignite veteran teachers’ passion

  • Freedom to “let go” of extra responsibilities. Sometimes it’s easier to assume that a veteran teacher will continue to coach softball, direct the school play, and do cafeteria duty. However, it’s unfair to not give allow them a gracious exit from such activities if they’re burned out. Better yet, admin should give veteran teachers an “out” before they’ve reached that point of exhaustion

  • Provide resources on mental health needs of today’s students. As experienced educators, they grew up before the social media era and other potentially negative forces that is shaping our youth today. A workshop on the pressures today’s students are facing — and how to look for warning signs of mental health crises — can help them understand the role they can play in fostering better mental health

All Teachers

In addition to the unique needs of teachers at each stage of their journey, there are resources and supports that benefit teachers throughout their career:

  • Supportive administrators. There are many ways school administrators can support teachersi including creating a culture of growth, belief that ALL students can excel at high levels, and provision of needed resources

  • Integrating culturally responsive education into lessons. Culturally responsive education is especially important when teaching STEM topics because it recognizes where students come from and how they learn. Building upon students’ unique life experiences delivers a deeper, more relevant approach to STEM

  • Access to a variety of high quality free resources: This can include general topics, as well as STEM-focused content like these FREE video lessons

  • Receive guidance from coaches. Effective coaching offers personalized guidance for teachers, no matter their level of experience. For example, coaches can educate new teachers on teaching strategies that build inclusive learning environment and bolster content knowledge for experienced teachers

  • Teacher support group. Peer support empowers individuals and teacher support groups like NMSI’s Teacher Villages gives educators the space to share and discover teaching strategies that raises student academic rigor

The National Math and Science Initiative is dedicated to supporting educators at all points in their career with relevant top-notch resources.
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