4 Tips for Better New Teachers

NAESP Conference speaker Todd Whitaker shares insights on how great principals hire, train, and support new teachers.

May 2016, Volume 39, Issue 9

One of the most important jobs a principal has is finding great new teachers and ensuring they’re successful at their school. However, it’s not as simple as just picking a promising candidate and trusting they’ll fit in.

In the latest installment of NAESP Radio, author and educational consultant Todd Whitaker argues that great principals are intentional about their process for hiring, training, and supporting new teachers. Here are some insights he had to offer principals can perfect this process.

Make hiring a priority.
“Often times [principals] are hiring [teachers] in the spring of the year, in the early summer, maybe even in their time that’s supposed to be ‘vacation.’ But what happens is because that’s when they hire, they’re really already jammed up. Their schedules are already so full. So we really have to think: Would we rather put time into hiring, or time into remediating? And those are really our choices. So we have to realize how essential that hiring component is.”

Position student teachers to succeed.
“Where do we put student teachers? Do we put them with the average teachers? Do we put student teachers only exemplary teachers? If we place a prospective teacher with an average student teacher, we’re telling them ‘This is what we want you to be like. This is what exceptional is.’ … if someone student teaches with that very best teacher, in one week, they act like that best teacher … With an average or poor teacher’s classroom, that’s easy to see also.”

Be there for new teachers.
“New teachers want principals in their classroom. They want them to be around. They want guidance. Principals think one way or another it attacks their insecurity if they come in. The new teachers don’t know that. Veteran teachers may know that. Veteran teachers may think, ‘The principal is never here, so if they come here I must be doing something wrong.’ New teachers don’t have that baggage.”

Help teachers help each other.
“One of the things you always want to start off with—even if you don’t have any new teachers, but especially if you do—is what I call a mutual exchange. Have teachers go into each other’s classrooms. Eventually we can build to a point where we just go into a classroom to observe a specific thing, but start with a mutual exchange. What happens when teachers go into each other’s classrooms in a non-evaluative, non-judgmental way, is all the teachers become like the best teachers. Because no one is going to steal worse ideas.”

You can listen Todd Whitaker’s full interview at www.naesp.org/radio. He will also be presenting at NAESP’s Best Practices for Better Schools conference in National Harbor, Maryland this July. Visit www.naespconference.org for more information.

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