I’ve only taught at one school, until this year. I started my teaching career at a school that I had already been affiliated with, both as a special education paraprofessional and as a long-term substitute teacher. I had already established a relationship with my fellow staff members, the faculty, and the administration. So the day I was announced as the new social studies teacher, I was welcomed with a round of applause and cheers. I taught at my home school for 6 years. I knew everyone, loved my administration and ultimately loved my school. Fast forward to school year 16-17. I have been reassigned (as requested) to another middle school as an educational technologist. This is my first year as an ET at my new school and it has been a learning experience.
For any teacher who has switched schools, you are fully aware of the adjustments that must be made and the do’s and don’ts. Like don’t use your former school’s mascot when you send a mass email to your new school’s faculty and staff members. EPIC FAIL! Don’t repeatedly say “Well at my old school”. People will definitely get tired of that quickly. Remember to use the phrase sparingly. I am guilty of saying it because I feel as though my first school has some great ideas that any and all middle schools could benefit from, but I do try and keep it to a minimum.
Don’t expect to get along with everyone. I am a people person and I pride myself on being able to build relationships with my colleagues. Especially as an educational technologist, it is imperative that relationship building be at the top of my priority list. This year has taught me that everyone will not like you. Everyone will not appreciate your personality or your love to chat about pedagogy and differentiation. I know this is not a new concept, but when you come from a school in which you get along with everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, it is a hard pill to swallow.
Not only am I the new teacher at the school, I am also a first year ET. That is a double whammy for me. I feel as though I have done a great job in the other positions I’ve held, but now I am the new girl who some people believe does not know her job. To a point, they are right. I don’t know everything there is to know about being an ET. I don’t know the answer to every question and I certainly do not know all the latest educational technologies. The beautiful thing about being an honest person is I will admit that I don’t know. I admit, then I find the answer to the question that I am unsure of.
So you might be thinking what are the do’s? Do get out of your classroom and meet your fellow colleagues. A school is only as strong as its weakest relationship. Do join committees and task groups. I have heard of new teachers not feeling welcomed to join leadership teams. This is a huge mistake. Just because a teacher has been at a school for a long time, does not mean that they have a bigger say in what happens and what is best for the school. Do get to know your administration. As a teacher leader, I value the times that I can support my admin especially outside of my role as ET. Remember relationship building is important, even between teachers and administration. Lastly, please get to know the front office and support staff. These people are the most important people in the building. From your supply person who delivers your toner cartridges and paper to the attendance clerk who has to constantly remind you to submit your attendance on time, engage in dialogue and get to know them. Oftentimes, teachers stay in their classrooms or on their hallways but I challenge you to get out and mingle.
So as the new girl, I can say that I look forward to next school year. I look forward to implementing new programs and creating a tech club. I am excited that now that I know what I need to do, I can perfect doing it next school year.
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