I was recently asked to join a panel of Parkland School Division staff to share my “advice” to teachers new to our division. Typically this is a pretty diverse group of people, coming from near and far, with varying levels of experience in the education field already. Some have taught for many years but are new to our division while others are new to the profession and just beginning their journey! I feel quite honoured to have this opportunity and humbled to be a part of a panel with some great colleagues.
Connect the Dots!
This blog post is an example of connecting the dots. When I started to make some notes about what I might share, I realized that this wasn’t an additional task to complete, but rather an opportunity to connect the dots!
We talk about how much is on the plate of teachers, and the list continues to grow. I have often found that if you can’t find a way to fit new work into what you are already doing you have 2 choices… let the new task go or remove something else! I have long had a goal to find more time to blog but there’s never enough time. I had to make these speaking points anyway so why not work towards my other goal of blogging more! Maybe these thoughts will even benefit someone else.
My message to teachers is connect the dots. Find ways to use your time efficiently by uncovering the connections of your various tasks. If you choose to coach a team, coach students that you might have the opportunity to teach. We all know that relationships are key, coaching is just one more way to form them! Consider asking a colleague to join you as an assistant! Assure them you’ve got the heavy lifting (practice plans, player agreements etc.) but that another adult helping would be appreciated. It’s a great way to build relationships with colleagues! Offer to practice with another team every now and then. Another great way to meet other students and to work with the coach from the other team.
Focus on Your Core Work
You were hired because you are an awesome teacher. You are going to be able to help our students create, learn, explore and take risks. While extracurricular contributions are always welcomed in our schools don’t overcommit. Make sure you have enough time to create learning experiences you are proud of…. then consider if you are able to fit in extracurricular commitments while still ensuring your health and wellness! Don’t put your family and personal life on hold! (I am still working on this one myself!)
Lean on Your Colleagues
We are blessed in Parkland School Division with amazing staff, everyone from our support staff to our Superintendent are here to support you and to make sure you succeed! Your success is a direct result of the success of your students.
I can speak from experience when I say that you will not have to look hard… or at all to find the teacher(s) that will be there to help you. When I arrived in this division 15 years ago we hadn’t finished the first August PD day before Mr. McConnell and Mr. Smithaniuk had approached me and set a meeting to discuss our Science and Math program for the year! I became great friends with them and learned so much from both… we also enjoyed a few practical jokes along the way!
I have worked in several schools in our division as well as our Central Office and have never had to guess who would be helpful… you won’t either! Use these colleagues… someone helped them before and they are now paying it forward
Who’s Your Best Friend?
This one’s so important that I can’t assume everyone knows… It’s not Admin… not the head custodian (though ours is awesome!) … not even that one teacher who was in that school the last time the Oilers made the playoffs… THE SECRETARIES! These ladies are the heart and soul of your school. Ask them for help, ask questions… bring them little treats!
One Last Thought
My advice wouldn’t be complete without giving a shout out to the Lead Team in PSD! Your administrators are there to see your success! Ask us for help… come bounce ideas off us… invite us in to your class, even especially when you are taking a risk! Access the Learning Supports facilitators, your Inclusive Education Lead Teacher, the school Learning Coach or anyone else on the leadership team! Parkland School Division works hard to develop leadership many staff members. Access them all!
I would love to hear from others what advice you would give… maybe I will have the chance again sometime in the future :)!
Principal, Woodhaven Middle School