George Lucas Educational Foundation
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According to the USDE's "Homeroom" blog, "Connected Educator Month focuses on reaching and encouraging educators to try out and explore national and global online learning opportunities." We all know that connecting can be a challenge in a teacher's busy world. How can you make time to connect online when you barely have time to stop by and say hello to the teacher in the classroom next door?

I remember those first years of teaching, and they were not at all what I expected. I struggled with the basics -- getting to know my colleagues, connecting with resources (physical and virtual), preparing for anything out of the ordinary, and staying motivated. I'd guess that my students benefited mostly from my enthusiasm and continued efforts to at least try connecting with them beyond the classroom.

Eventually, I hit a stride in my teaching. By year three, I had a rich curation of resources in my teacher toolbox that included a few tangible and intangible items. Most importantly, I developed a list of reminders (or "Be's" as I call them) that may be worth sharing with new and not-so-new educators. If nothing else, these "Be's" serve as my reminder and motivation to stay connected and curious.

1. Be willing to connect with and learn about your colleagues.

Getting to know our students is essential. However, we often forget about how important it is to at least become familiar with our colleagues. Remember that your students will have some of your colleagues as teachers before and after you. So knowing a little about the teacher next door can go a long way for your students. Your peer educators, office/support staff, and district personnel are simply important people to know. Learning who your colleagues are doesn't mean that you have to become besties, but keen observations about them will help you determine the best strategies for working effectively with them. As you learn about your colleagues, also remember to show appreciation to those who will be there when you reach out to for support.

2. Be a community builder when you connect.

Staying motivated and connected to your purpose requires connecting with like-minded professionals in the field of education. So stay open to going deeper after learning about your colleagues. Keep in mind how easy it is to drift (and stay) on that isolated island that disconnects you from others who can provide the necessary support and encouragement to stay the course. Your own motivation is essential to your ability to become the ultimate motivator of your students. If you're in your early years of teaching, your mentor may have been selected for you, but don't forget that you are the ultimate builder of your community of support. A thoughtfully-constructed community will include your most honest cheerleaders who are willing to sustain the connections that you establish along your teaching journey. Additionally, this community will hold you accountable to your purpose for teaching and hopefully support your personal pursuit of future learning opportunities.

3. Be ready for the unexpected.

I don't know that this is even really possible for me any more, but it feels worthwhile to maintain a mindframe that challenges me to be prepared for thinking on my toes. No one is ever truly prepared for the unexpected, but you can accept that the unexpected will occur. Of course, this means striving to remain flexible. For example, Stacy comes to class late and does not seem to be herself. You're planning to jump right into your station rotations until you notice her demeanor. Take a moment to connect with Stacy -- maybe she missed breakfast or just needs to know that someone cares today. A few minutes of your time with her might make the biggest difference in her day. Remember that thinking on your toes (or withitness) does not just mean that you always make the perfect "in-the-moment" decisions. I spend hours connecting to my content and curating resources to personalize my students' learning of their academic content. What about a curated list of resources that you can refer to when seeking motivation for both you and your students?

4. Be prepared and take a seat at the table.

When the time is right, be prepared to speak up and step up in support of others (pay it forward). All teachers have a voice that should be heard. We all bring a certain set of skills with us into the classroom. Reflect and connect to your inner being -- figure out how your skill set can best be used in a classroom (or schoolwide) setting. When considering taking a seat at the table, remember to go back to number one on this list: learn about your colleagues. What you know about them will help inform how and/or if the time is right to offer support.

5. Be a current and curious educator.

As you connect (physically and virtually) to your content, colleagues, and curated resources, remember to remain curious and keep it current. We have made some powerful shifts in education over the years, and it is frightening to feel lost or left behind. As a child, my curiosity motivated me to move in a positive direction. Reflect on the times that your curiosity and imagination took you on an amazing journey, and allow that same spirit into your classroom -- for you and for your students. When we are curious, we learn and discover new innovations. Allow your curiosity to drive your connections.

Please share your own "Be's" in the comments below.

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Robyn Alexander's picture

Be willing to grow your network organically and at a pace that makes sense. If you subscribe to several blogs but don't make time to read postings, then you will not have done much to strengthen your network. All connections are not equal--connections with reciprocity, where the teacher can give and receive info, will be the most successful in the long run.

Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT's picture
Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT
Middle school English/Digital Design/Broadcast Media teacher

These are great suggestions! And they are valuable far beyond our newbie years. Thanks for the reminders!

James Kyne's picture
James Kyne
Career Consultant at ResumePlus - A Body Providing Resume and CV Writing Assistance

I really loved to hear about your experiences from a first year teacher to evolution you have made over the years. It takes time to be something in any profession and one who identifies and working according to such a perspective can surely benefited from the same. From your points I support utmost the first point "Be willing to connect with and learn about your colleagues" as it's the backbone for the followed points you have mentioned. In other words, if you connect well with students and other colleagues, the environment will provide quite support to move further with less burden.

I was a teacher before, but went further to achieve something that I love to mentor students in career development. I love it always when something we do is helping someone else to be successful and that's what the driving force to me keep motivated in my activities throughout the years. One thing for sure the teachers must follow is that be connected to changes happening around the academic world, the need to adapt to the changes is more important to keep the flow going in your teaching career.

Anyway, I loved the perspectives you have shared and I wish to see many of its kind in the upcoming days. Keep writing and inspiring others.

James Kyne
Career Consultant at

Klg07's picture

Thank you for sharing this information with all of us. I'm not an educator yet, but I plan to become one soon. I really agree with you on number 3, Be ready for the unexpected. I've worked in a daycare for 2 years and although it's nothing compared to teaching in an actual school, I learned this very early on. I've had a whole day planned because school let out early, but everything I planned wasn't exactly at the times I planned it. One of my students threw up and it took time for me to distract my other kids from looking at the child that was throwing up. I then had to assign someone to start a game off while I consoled the child that threw up, clean up the mess, and call the front office. Before I realized it I was behind schedule. It use to scary me and think that if things weren't followed in the order I made them, that it meant that I couldn't do my job right. I went to my boss and cried telling her that I ran behind schedule doing this activity when we were suppose to be doing this activity. She told me not to cry or stress about it. There will always be days when things don't go according to plan and that I did a great job carrying everything out. I was commended for distracting 16 other students and still taking care of the student that threw up until the child was picked up. Parents the next day told her that they had so much fun in my class that day and their kids were coming home talking about all the activities I planned. The kids didn't even notice that our activities weren't in order.

Freddricka Pressley's picture

These are very helpful tips for new teachers. We are able to prepare accordingly. As future educators we go in the field not really knowing what to expect. It is better to expect the unexpected. Being a team player helps to contribute to the educator community. Great post!

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