George Lucas Educational Foundation

Honoring New Teachers

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It seems as though so many education awards are popping up around the world. What a great thing to honor hard working people in their chosen field of education. Some awards have been created by nonprofits and others created by corporations. Often awards go to mid-career or veteran teachers. One group of teachers seemingly overlooked (but not always) are new teachers. My hopes are to encourage you to start a Teacher of Promise Award (TOP Award) program at your school or in your district just as I did. This isn’t a formal program you need to seek out, but only a home-grown way to celebrate the efforts of those new to our profession.

Our first years of teaching are often such a massive challenge. Just keeping up is a great accomplishment, but there are times we find a special individual who is not only keeping up, but truly starting to be an exemplar in those first few years. I think of these new teachers as “Rookies of the Year.” In baseball these young phenoms do things not expected of someone new to the game. In the same way, taking the time to recognize a handful of new teachers at each level (primary, middle grades and high school teachers) who also demostrate a level of expertise beyond there years of experience sends a powerful message of support for excellence in the profession.

Should you decide to add your own TOP Award, here's how it looks for our district. After optional nominations from school sites, a small committee selects a few new teachers to be honored based on discussions with site administrators and other site level teachers. Once selected, flowers are brought to announce the TOP at their school site. We also have a special recognition at our Teacher of the Year banquet, along with some small mementos donated by local organizations and businesses.  So the Teacher of Promise award, or TOP award, has the purpose of honoring those first or second year teachers for putting in tremendous effort to impacting the students' lives, connect with staff members and for unwavering dedication to the best profession. I hope you'll consider adding your own type of award to honor new teachers.

Share your stories of how you plan on honoring others in the profession and be sure to connect here or join the Twitter chat #NTchat hosted by @teachingwithsoul every Wednesday at 8PM EST/5PM PST.

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Wade's picture
Teacher Coach in Newport News, VA

I work with new teachers in my school district and I think that this is a great way to recognize those new teachers that show a level of commitment to improving their practice and supporting and pushing their students to full potential. I shared this idea with my supervisor and hope that it will come to fruition in the near future. Thank you for sharing this great idea.

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

This is such a great idea! No matter how successful a new teacher may be, they are surely struggling with feeling overwhelmed and not at all certain that they are indeed being successful. Add to that the job insecurity of a new teacher, and this time of year can be really rough. What a great idea to build their confidence and honor their hard work by making sure they know that they have indeed chosen the right career and they have a bright future! Thanks for sharing, Scott!

Lisa Dabbs's picture
Lisa Dabbs
Educational Consultant. Author. Speaker. Blogger.

Hi Scott!

Great discussion post! You know how hard I have worked over the last 5 years to build spaces on Twitter, FB and Google Plus that are supportive to new and pre-service teachers. It takes a lot of work to create spaces that allow them to feel comfortable and ask questions.

What I have discovered is that regardless of the spaces, they seem to struggle to share out and stay somewhat hidden in the background...kind of "lurking and learning". I suspect this is quite common, but I hope to be able to draw them out more and more to post and share.

I appreciate your sharing my New Teacher Chat in this discussion and excited to have you be a part of my book with Nicol Howard. :)

Cheers friend!-Lisa

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