I recently took the time to read the book Letters to a Young Teacher, and I truly wish I read this as I was entering the teaching profession shortly after graduation. There are so many gems of wisdom and encouragement and hope and inspiration sprinkled throughout this book. This week I’ll be sharing a few of these.
Jonathan refers to Francesca’s principal as very supportive and like minded, and I really do believe that a supportive and understanding principal or administrator can really do wonders for a young teacher. This particular principal personally called Francesca in the evenings after Francesca had expressed discouragement over her students’ reading difficulties. The principal even encouraged another more seasoned teacher in the school to check in on Francesca, and encourage her by sharing some of her own challenges.
I can say that in my first short years of teaching, one particular administrator comes to mind, and I must say she did wonders for my teaching experience. Not only did she defend the rights and needs of her teachers when dealing with higher levels of administration, but she reached out to us on a personal level, and helped me to grow immensely by encouraging me, giving me specific strategies and tips on how to better manage my classroom, as well as supporting me and standing firm on discipline (one of my personal weaknesses as a teacher). I have not always been so lucky, but I do look back on that year as one of immense positive growth for me.
2 thoughts on “Letters to a Young Teacher: Part 1”
How crucial those first contacts are! My first year teaching I just went through the motions, did what I was expected to do. No mentoring, just an alien culture. Twelve years later I was asked to teach at a smaller high school (they wanted me! Me personally — what a difference), where the Principal was hugely inspiring. She would say, “What are you doing this week, Rachel? Do something interesting.” In school A, everything was implicitly forbidden unless it was exactly what the other teachers were doing. In school B, everything was permitted provided we had a clear and valid reason for doing it. With that one remark, I felt free, appreciated, and safe.
That makes such a huge difference–school climate and the personality of the principal. Glad you were so blessed to find a school where the principal was genuinely interested in you and your classroom. It’s those environments in which one grows best.
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