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Monday / September 25

Everything You Should Have Learned at New Teacher Orientation

Everything You Should Have Learned at New Teacher Orientation

There’s always lots of ground to cover at New Teacher Orientation.

Inspiration. Information. Registration…

As a result, Orientation events tend to mix fire-hose levels of district information with inspirational parables, all set to a soundtrack of Wind Beneath My Wings on repeat. Unfortunately, this means the combined message new teachers receive right before they step into their first classroom feels something like this:

“You are the wind beneath kids’ wings…Your job is to be the force of nature that keeps children from dropping out of the sky. Always remember, you make a difference! Oh, but also make sure you’re never alone in a room with a kid. And everything you do needs to be backed up by data. But make sure to be confident! Students can sense when you’re not confident! Now, please read this binder that describes our evaluation system.”

And yet, New Teacher Orientations often leave out the number one subject on teachers’ minds: The first day of school.

With this in mind, here’s a new tool for beginning teachers: The School Year Starter Kit.

The Starter Kit is a free, three-day email series meant to help new teachers cut through information overload and focus on the few, basic things that will most help them prepare for the first day of school.

It also includes notes from my speeches at New Teacher Orientations around the country, which explain why it’s helpful to imagine the first day of teaching as an airport.

When students first walk in, for example, teachers should think of themselves as airport security. This means lots of firm repetition of simple instructions that sound something like this: “Good morning. Your seat is here. Your first assignment is here.” Later in the day, teachers become flight attendants, and then pilots, with different duties and demeanors throughout the day. The first few minutes of class, however, are not the best time to have individual, personal conversations with students. Your job at this point is to get everyone on board quickly and efficiently. Greet. Seat. Repeat. If you’re worried that this might make you seem unfriendly, just remember that everyone on that plane wants airport security to be able to do their jobs.

If you know any incoming teachers who could use this, please pass it on. Or, check it out yourself if you’d like a streamlined list of first-day resources.

If you’re the rookie teacher in question, you can sign up for the School Year Starter Kit here.

Best of luck to all of you as you prepare for the first day of school!

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Written by

Roxanna Elden is the author of See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers. The book is a funny, honest, practical guide that shares tips and stories from teachers around the country.

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