By Susan Jerrell, TOFT Founder
Young teachers need support and encouragement. New teachers sometimes get a bum wrap, and it shouldn’t be that way. In an era of teacher shortages, young teachers are our strongest assets, and they bring a lot to the educational environment.
First of all, young teachers bring enthusiasm to the job.
New teachers are fresh and excited. They cannot wait to meet their students and try out new ideas. Embrace their enthusiasm and encourage their inventiveness. Don’t tell them their idea won’t work, that it hasn’t been done that way in the past or that they will learn the hard way. The very fact that they do not yet have a past is part of the refreshing attitude. To them anything is possible; what a great way to greet students! If you have developed a jaded attitude toward education after years in the trenches, keep it to yourself, please and thank you. Young teachers need support not rejection.
They bring a new perspective to the school.
Most new teachers are fresh out of college and have taken different education classes and have learned topics perhaps not covered 15+ years ago. Because they are closer in age to the students, they still remember what it was like sitting in a classroom all day as a student. Please ask them for that perspective. Ask them about ways they engage students, apps they recommend, or educational games they learned about. They are in touch with the younger age group in a way you will never be again. Learn from them.
Young teachers bring a valuable skill-set as digital natives.
Since they do not remember a time without technology, they know the apps, the programs and the lingo. They can troubleshoot a computer issue faster than we can explain what is going on. If you are not taking advantage of their knowledge when it comes to technology then you are missing out. Trust me, you can save a lot of time and headache by going to the digital experts. Young teachers can be a support for those of us with some experience too!
Young teachers need support through mentors.
Because they are new, they are also inexperienced in classroom management, student relationships and navigating school politics. For some new teachers that comes quite naturally, but for others it is a struggle. Too often those topics are not covered well in education courses. Experience is a great teacher, but having someone to bounce thoughts off of is a huge help. Simply let younger teachers know you are available, stop by for an after school chat just to check in on them and make sure to be nonjudgmental and approachable.
Older teachers can learn something from young teachers.
I have seen older teachers disregard the opinions of younger teachers. Please, don’t let that be you. You can learn a lot from them. They are entering the teaching field at a totally different place than many of us did. The climate, the expectations and the workload have changed. Because they do not know anything different, they embrace change a lot easier. They are also much more aware of their stress and how to manage that. We can learn from their understanding of self care and how to maintain mental health.
Finally, young teachers help us remember why we became teachers.
Young teachers’ faces are bright and alert, and they smile with genuine enthusiasm. They eagerly meet their students and strive to reach each one. They face each day with hope. If you embrace what they have to offer, you can see an increase in building morale and positivity because positive attitudes rub off on others. Their enthusiasm can be contagious, if we let it. It can help us remember what it was like when we were fresh and new and remind us why we became teachers to begin with.