Advice for New Teachers: Bring About Change
Guest blog by Solitia Wilson. Wilson is an early childhood Special Education teacher in Hanover County, Va. She is a participant in the "Teacher as Change Agent" course, created and sponsored by the Center for Teacher Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University.
New teachers have a vision of coming into the realm of teaching in order to be an agent of change in the life of a child. And this is truth. Teachers have great impact.
However, new teachers must remember that reality is very different from what they learned in college, read in textbooks, or experienced when they were in school. Many new teachers are not aware that theories they were taught in college are not common practice. They don't know about all the teaching challenges they will only learn from hands-on experience.
It's tough not knowing what you don't know as a new teacher while still trying to keep up with what you need to know!
New teachers, when you find an area in which you feel change is needed, share your thoughts with your mentor or administrator. Hopefully, you will get honest and productive feedback.
Start with the students in your class. Start small, and stay focused on that one change you would like to see implemented. Whatever you do, don't get discouraged. Make continuous modifications on how you are implementing your change-worthy ideas, but keep your overall goal in mind.
Share this information with your grade-level, or department team. Don't stop speaking up when others may discount your thoughts, or make you feel as if you are too new to know any better. Be willing to stand up for the change you see that is needed—if not for your students, then for yourself. Your willingness to learn more about change can foster growth in both teachers and students.
Show others that being 'the new kid on the block' can be a good thing. Some teachers—with their 'old-school' mentality—have been teaching for so long that change is only acknowledged when it comes from the top down, with no questions asked.
New teachers, remember the ultimate goal in teaching is to inspire change in the life of a child. Take note of the disparities in education you see that could improve with a shift in policy or practice. Note how changes could be implemented to positively impact students—not only in your classroom, but school-wide.
Be willing to start small. Be that fresh forward thinker who is often needed to respectfully shake things up! Be an active part of the solution, be willing to take on leadership roles; and be willing to stand up for what you see and your beliefs.
Pack your patience, because these transformations will not happen overnight. Sometimes, change will not happen over the course of a school year, but as the old adage goes '...a change is gonna come.'
Let's pray (...and yes, I did say pray) that the changes will be better for the lives of all children we teach--not only today, but in years to come.