New teachers start facing challenges as soon as they enter the school. They have to cope with their new colleagues and students and also have to be adapt to the way the school works. A principal may have many other responsibilities in the school but helping new teachers with their work can make a big difference to the school.
Here are a few things you can do to help.
The temptation to fill up every minute of a teacher’s schedule can be great but there is a small glitch, they too are only human. And if you work them around the clock as if they were machines, then that is a sure-fire way to have new teachers leave in droves. Instead, give them a set schedule with a certain amount of teaching hours and a certain amount of free time and of course, allow the to use their own discretion when it comes to taking class or not taking class.
Once upon a time, you too were new to your job. Being a newbie at work is a very scary prospect. Create a positive work environment for your staff. Also, make your self approachable to them. They shouldn’t have to come see you only when they have problems. Encourage them to come in whenever they like, to talk about the changes they would like to make, to talk about the progress they are making with their pupils etc.
Allow your teachers to collaborate with each other, and moreover, encourage them to do so. Two heads are always better than one and for new teachers who feel a little bit sea since they have just started, allowing them to collaborate with each other will ease the stress of preparing for class.
Don’t maintain an unbridgeable distance between you and your staff. Get to know them, what they enjoy doing, sit in their classes, see how they teach, discuss learning styles and teaching strategies with them etc. In short, don’t be a stranger. A cold and unfriendly principle is the easiest way to scare off new teachers.
It is your job of course to make suggestions to new teachers or teachers in general. However, communication is a two-way street. You cannot be the only one pelting ideas at new teachers. You need to be open to listening to new ideas too. While your age and experience gives you perspective, a new teacher’s age and lack of experience also means a fresh take on the same old concept. It does not matter, if the ideas they put forth eventually don’t work out. But listening is always an important skill that you must possess, because for every 10 ideas that don’t work, there is always going to be 1 that is a winner!
An end of the year review is going to tell you nothing about new teacher. Remember, how well a person performs is also depends on how confident or how nervous they are. Assess their growth through out their year, sit in on a few of their classes, talk to your students (not in front of them of course) and in general, just see how they manage through out the year. Then at the end of the year, you can make an informed judgement about them and decide if they need a little more help or a little more experience.
Don’t ask for something to be done and then turn around and make so many changes that the whole thing needs to be scrapped. Don’t make promises and then say that you cannot keep them. An inconsistent principal is an incompetent principal who will not be respected by his/her staff. If you say you are going to do something or make some changes, no matter how radical or revolutionary they are, or how many brickbats you expect, carry through with your decision. The respect and admiration you receive for it from your staff will be enormous.
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