George Lucas Educational Foundation

Your Means of Support

Your Means of Support

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Greetings everyone, I was speaking with a group of new teachers last week, and we were chatting about the types of support that they need in their beginning years, and the types of support that the district thinks they need. There was a difference! I thought that I would throw the question out to you. What types of support did you find to be most important in your first months/years of practice? Was it emotional support? Was it help with lesson/unit planning? Was it assistance in deciphering the curriculum expectations? Was it advice on classroom management? Where did you find that support? Were there programs in place to help, or did you have to go elsewhere to get what you neede? I would be very interested in getting some response from those of you who are just starting out, as well as those of us who have been around for a bit! Stephen

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

Hi Ashley,
Are you on Twitter?
There is a wonderful group of supportive educators there.
Consider joining us on Tuesday's at 9:00AM Pacific Time for #edchat.
The resources are amazing!
You can follow @ShellTerrell and me @teachingwthsoul.
You'll soon see the tons of teachers out there that are just waiting and eager to support you.
By the way...don't worry about the so called "record". Just leave it behind. I had tons of young teachers, at my sites, who struggled and shed tears in my office when they were your age. I gave them the same talk and encouragement I gave you. They are now Literacy Coaches, Adjunct Professors and Coordinators.
Stay encouraged! I will look for you on Twitter. :)
Feel free to email anytime

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

Hi Ashley,
Oh how great! You are going to get connected to so many great and wonderful educators.
I will look forward to your tweets. :D
P.S. I looked for your profile and it said that no one has that twitter name? Maybe try again?

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

OK, Yay! I sent you several great teachers who want to hook up with you to support and mentor. They sent you Twitter requests. @mrspal @doremigirl@shellterrell. If you unlock your twitter it will be so much better for you to connect!

Aaron Johnson's picture

I feel your pain and I understand too what it is like to have little or no support during the first year of teaching. No wonder why so many young teachers drop off the face of the educational world in their first 5 years in the profession. But you do have one thing going for you! You read Edutopia. I have learned so many great things from this magazine and website.
My best suggestion for you would be to continue to evolve your philosophy. Now with the one year under your belt, you have seen what works,what doesn't and what makes you feel the most alive. (I found that my love for documentaries and controversy, fueled my history classrooms fire) Basically, latch on to those who inspire you. For example, I love Jim Burke, a secondary english teacher in CA, because he has always been a fighter and a student advocate. He was once told that he couldn't go to college by a guidance counselor and has been on a crusade ever since. His book, Letters to a First Year Teacher, is incredibility inspiring and practical. These types of people help you simplify you classroom and there words are great to have around when you think that your going to go insane. Also, that strong emotional and positive connection with their works, will come out during your interviews and help you answer any question they throw at you.
As someone who just turned the quarter century(25), we must realize that the standards of living our parents had will never be seen again in this country. We must continue the fight and sacrifice for the things we believe in.
Let me know if you need anything


nancy's picture

First of all, know that there is no end to the tunnel. There is always change and growth and those who think they have arrived are those who will be left behind.

The field of education tends to attract those who were comfortable in school themselves and they recreate the classroom they enjoyed. Innovators generally find other areas in which to move forward. That sets up a situation where the status quo is encouraged in day-to-day existence.

The creative teacher (administrator) finds her/himself in a narrow corridor, but that shouldn't deter you. The pathfinders always have the most difficult job! If you want to be the educational leader, follow your heart, do what you can each day and develop a thick skin. There will always be those, in any job, who prefer to take a traditional role, but they are rarely the ones who make a difference.

Become thoroughly aware of the direction you want to go, find ways to support your theories and yourself, and wow 'em out of their complacence!

LiveLoveTeach's picture


Isn't it both sad and amazing at the same time that it's becoming more common to me to see that new teachers didn't get the help they thought they would? I believe it would've been lovely to know this in my undergraduate work - Someone to be forthright and tell me, "Make sure you can stand on your own two feet in the even that you will have to do exactly that..." However, I guess I might not have gone into the teaching profession had I been given such a reality check into the window of what teaching is REALLY like, or really COULD be. Unfortunately, I experienced that on my own, and I suppose I'm somewhat thankful that it happened during my first year and that it's over with now. I might have to look on Amazon for the book you recommended, as I plan on buying another that one of my GREAT college professors recommended to me, "Readicide" by Kelly Gallagher (sp?) about how schools are killing reading, which I unfortunately witnessed during my first year. Reading wasn't done for enjoyment, it was more in a "drill and kill" sense and it was so disappointing to me, someone who loved to read when I was younger, to see how much some of my students despised reading because of the intense curriculum. They viewed it as a chore, and not as a pleasureful sort of activity like it should be.

Anyway, I am so thankful I came across Edutopia and for meeting so many new educators that have been in my shoes. It's nice to talk to others in the field that can empathize with me for once - sadly, all of my friends from college have full time jobs, and can't relate to what it was like to go through a situation like mine. So, thank you for your support and helpful ideas. Keep in touch!

Teacher's picture
4th grade teacher

Ashley, I could have written your post. I hear you girlfriend! The only difference for me was that I entered the teaching profession after raising my 3 kids, and working for years in private industry in NYC in a professional environment, so I also had my age to overcome, not to mention the "culture shock" of working in a building with no a/c, a filthy "teacher's bathroom", and a very competitive mentor, and one copy machine in the basement that all the teachers share. GIVE ME A BREAK!

The good news is, I survived (barely), and received my tenure. The personal sacrifices I made, the long grueling hours I worked, the scars on my tongue from having to "bite" it and keep silent, will not long be forgotten.

Personally, if you ask me, the principal you have is the key. My principal "had my back" from day 1. He counseled me, protected me, and encouraged me. EVERYBODY else was useless, and did more to hinder me than to help me. I KNOW exactly what you mean about "cookie cutter" mentality of many administrations. Last year, I was working off "scripted" lessons and worrying about how many "charts" I had hanging up. This year, I don't even think about that stuff and I'm constantly online trying to find constructivist and multi-media ways to engage my students. It remains to be seen how it all works out, but I know I am so much happier, less frustrated, and more "hopeful". My students seems to like coming to school, and are improving mainly with their "thinking skills" which are sorely lacking these days. Kids can't figure out how to use a stapler, a whole punch, look up a word in a dictionary, read directions.....oh, don't get me started. But they can get to level 5 on a video game, and download 150 songs on their iPod, so I'm realizing this is the learning style we have to harness in the schools of the future! I digress.
Also, don't look to colleagues to share, team teach, encourage, or compliment you. It doesn't happen - but somewhere out there will be an ally that you can trust, and that helps a lot. I call her my "silent sister", because we can vent to each other, and grouse, and share, and then put a phony smile on our face for everybody else that shunned us.

My sad history of events: first year, parents were out to get me; second year, my mentor turned on me; third year-I was "set up" with the absolutely worst class/chemistry of kids that you could ever imagine. I had a student that would get down on all 4's and howl like a wolf! All the specials teachers knew I had been set up. I kept my sanity by maintaining a great relationship with my students, caring about them, having "their" backs, and continuing to play the tenure game.

If you're lucky, you'll get on a tenure track with a progressive principal. Keep your eye on the prize because our profession needs teachers like you! Good luck!

a "silent sister"

LiveLoveTeach's picture

I'm certainly not relishing over the fact that you had the same experience as me in a negative way, but in a sense that again, someone else can relate! I think, so I've come to the conclusion of thus far, that the result of experiences like our's are individuals that come into this profession, or stay in it for that matter, for the wrong reasons. After seeing a sweet, yet semi-helpless, boy last year be constantly put down by his own teacher, tore me apart - knowing that this individual still has a job, and here I sit, still waiting for my full-time position.

Anyway, I know what you mean about the generational changes in kids today, it amazed me after a lesson I taught during a long-term position in second grade about pilgrims -- I asked the students how they would feel if they were at home all the time working and constantly interacting with brothers/sisters/family members, and the first response I received was, "I wouldn't like it because I couldn't play my DS".

I have learned a lot from everything that had happened my first year, (I was in two long-term positions, one in fourth and the other in second, just for info) and much of it came the hard way and was very unexpected. I came into my first year with rose colored glasses I suppose would be the best analogy, thinking everything was going to go well and that I was going to get a great first year experience like everyone had said. Then, REALITY hit. HARD.

I hope to keep in touch with you to continue to share experiences. I can't say it enough, but it's so nice to have someone (and in this case, many people) to talk to who really can relate instead of just sympathizing like a mom would do, and say, "things will get better, don't worry". Sorry, but after so long, advice like that doesn't ease my feelings. ;)

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