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What Does the First Year Look Like?

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As a candidate for a teaching position, the search is only one part of getting in front of the classroom. Most people find the chase to be rather tiring, but the real work starts as a person signs a contract and makes a commitment to be in front of kids. Every teaching position in this nation is important. Every teacher is important for what they bring to the classroom.

From the time you are hired, you need to know there will be paperwork and preparation. In today's business environment, the school district will have quite a bit of forms and materials for you. From the simple IT permission form to the selection of health insurance. All of these items will help make for a smooth transition as you approach the first day with kids.

Many of the school districts will have an official new teacher orientation which may be anything from 1 day to 1 week. This can vary from knowing how to work within a school to knowing the curriculum that needs to be taught. The amount of preparation will vary on what level of competency the individual has. Besides knowing your physical environment, you will want to know your colleagues. Although the contract will specify specific work days, there will be more days needed to get ready. Getting in to the classroom, getting the textbooks, finding out what the routine will be all are things that are better known sooner as opposed to later.

If the school district has a mentor/induction program, you will have a professional assigned to you so you can have that very personal contact. This is mandated in some states and is more voluntary in others. They should help in your growth so you can survive the stresses yet to come. The staff development offered will be beneficial, but when you sit down in the evening with a pile of papers to grade, you might think that another interference is going to make you quit.

Your first year will be hectic, difficult, frustrating, and hopefully the best experience you will have. Remember, there are more than 60% of people who complete their teaching preparation who do not get jobs the first year. You have the job and you need to make the most of it. It will be more work than you ever dreamed, but you have to continue to remember why you got in to the profession. Students expect and at some age groups demand that you are on top of your game every day, every period, every class. Please don't disappoint.

Good luck with this most important of jobs. It will be tiring but rewarding. You made it and now you get to practice the most satisfying and frustrating job that requires a college education. Teaching is so much more than standing in front of the class. Be prepared and be flexible.


Doug Peden
Executive Director of Human Resources
Falcon School District
Colorado Springs, Colorado

3 Comments

I agree that teaching is a rewarding profession. However, I am sad to hear that most people know that the job is tiring and frustrating. It is this way because no one has pushed hard enough to create a national teaching environment that pays well, cuts paperwork, and rewards teachers for teaching not good test scores. I left public education and went into private practice best decision I ever made for public school does not have a positive environment for teachers, parents, or students, especially EC teachers.If I am wrong then tell me when the pay for teaching will match the importance of the job, for it is in the top ten of most noble professions and pays less than most professional positions.Teaching is very rewarding, but it is tiring, frustrating and does not pay well. Doesn't sound good to me.Does it sound good to a new teacher?

Every teacher told me that the first year was the most difficult. Now that I am a highly qualified veteran of nearly 20 years, I am angered that I was not prepared for the job in a better way. If you want better teachers, you need to have better teachers of teachers. I am becoming more jaded every year. I see so many problems in our educational system. They are not all problems that can be solved with money. The only reason I keep going back every fall is because I love kids. The only reason I have survived public education this long is because I don't take it too seriously. It takes many years to become a "good" teacher. Most teachers don't last long enough in the profession to even hit their stride. What normal human being would deal with impossible conditions and lack of respect, not to mention the poor pay scale. Rewards? I haven't seen any. It is no reward to try to teach a child that tells you to shut up. It is no reward to have things thrown at you. The only satisfaction I see is when students improve and what a battle it was to get there.
75% of new teachers leave for better opportunities by their 5th year, if they last that long. What is going to happen when all the "best educated boomers" retire in the next ten years and there is nobody to replace us?

Teachers have always been 'nice ladies' and not fighters. To get our due, we'll need to have a nationwide, serious strike that doesn't stop until the pay is equal.
But as long as we're supposed to be 'nice' and 'think of the children more than ourselves,' we'll keep getting taken advantage of.
Having local govts finance teachers through taxes is part of the problem, but everyone would eventually knuckle down and pay up if there was persistent insistence.

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