Early Career Educators
Resources for Classroom Support and Career Advancement
Helping New Educators Survive and Thrive
SPARKS retreats are a major component in the IEA’s support of early career educators. Held at various locations around the state, these retreats give new educators a chance to share experiences, issues, and ideas with each other in non-work atmosphere. Some of Idaho’s most experienced and trusted educators facilitate SPARKS retreats, so there is plenty of veteran knowledge to take advantage of. These retreats are a great learning experience for early career educators and they are FREE for IEA members (although space is limited).
Idaho’s Growing Network of Inspired and Thriving Educators
The IEA has developed IGNITE to provide a wide range of professional support for early career educators. This program features one-on-one mentorship opportunities with experienced educators and professional development trainings individually tailored to specific educator needs. IGNITE will help early career educators flourish in the classroom and become leaders in their school buildings and beyond.
Jump-start Your Education Career
Early career educators are those just getting started as professional educators—typically through their first six years on the job. IEA members run the gamut from student members to veteran members with many years of experience, and they all recognize the importance of support, training, collaboration, and mentorship. We have many programs and resources designed to help early career educators find answers to questions, avoid missteps, and build confidence in their abilities.
With the help of the IEA, you’ll never doubt that you belong!
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I find information about educator certification?
All certifications for professional certification in Idaho are granted and administered by the Idaho State Department of Education. This website has substantial information about how to apply for certification and what you need to do to stay current with your certification. You should also see our FAQ on legal protections and responsibilities for educators to get more information about protecting your certification.
What do I need to know about educator evaluations? Where can I find help?
How am I evaluated as a teacher?
In Idaho, the 22 elements of the Charlotte Danielson Framework or something aligned to the Danielson Framework) must be used to make up the majority of your evaluation.
The vast majority of districts evaluate each element using a 4 point scale: 1-Unsatisfactory, 2-Basic, 3-Proficient, and 4-Distinguished. Although some districts elect to not use the “4-Distinguished” rating.
Student achievement measures are also required to be a part of your evaluation, and school districts have some flexibility around what measures are used. Consult with leaders in your local association for more information on how student achievement factors into the evaluation in your school district.
Who does my evaluation?
Evaluations must be completed by an administrator in the school district. Typically, this will be done by the Principal or Assistant Principal in your building. The district is required to do multiple observations of your performance throughout the year and it may be the case that multiple administrators in your building observe you and provide input on your summative evaluation.
How often do I get evaluated?
Idaho law requires that all teachers be formally observed at least twice during each school year and that every teacher receives a summative evaluation prior to June 1st of each year.
What can I do to best prepare for my evaluation?
You can take ownership of your evaluation by being proactive and preparing for your evaluation well in advance. Make sure that you have a good understanding of the evaluation process in your district and of the Danielson Framework (see additional resources below) and start collecting “evidence” early on for each element you will be evaluated on. Evidence may come in many different forms: lesson plans, snapshots of your classroom, personal notes from reflecting on a lesson, behavior strategies used… think outside the box!
IEA’s evaluation workshops (always FREE for members) provide attendees resources for collecting and organizing evidence, as well as examples of types of evidence that can be collected for each Danielson element.
Use the link at the bottom of the page to contact your IEA Region Office to inquire about upcoming workshops on preparing for your evaluation.
What if I don’t agree with my evaluation?
Every school district employee has the right to include a rebuttal to an evaluation (as well as anything else that is placed in an employee’s personnel file). The rebuttal is placed alongside the evaluation in the employee’s personnel file. A representative from your local association can assist you in drafting and submitting a rebuttal letter.
In some districts there is policy or contract language that allows teachers a process in which they can appeal an evaluation. Check with your local association leadership, or consult the Master Contract and District Policy, to see what additional rights you have to appeal an evaluation.
Still wanting to know more?
Many of our association members and leaders have been working with the Danielson Framework and Idaho’s teacher evaluation process for quite some time. Consider reaching out to your Building Representative or another leader in your local association for advice or tips for preparing for and having a successful evaluation!
Below are some additional resources to assist you in preparing for your evaluation:
- Danielson Framework 1-Pager
- Rubrics for Each of the Danielson Framework Domains
- The Full Danielson Framework Evaluation Instrument
- Having Productive Conversations with Your Administrator About Your Evaluation
Check back throughout the year for additional tips and best practices in preparing for your evaluation!
Do you still have questions or need additional assistance about the evaluation process? Do you have questions about evaluations of school district employees other than certified teachers?
Contact your IEA Region Office or use our Contact form to submit your questions and we will put you in touch with someone who can help you!
What resources are available for helping me deal with parents?
Students are not the only group of people you have to work with to be a successful educator. Engaging with parents will go a long way toward achievement by your students and a beneficial experience for all concerned. The key is establishing open lines of communication.
Here are some ideas to help communicate with parents and get them involved with their child’s education.
- Take the initiative. Contact parents through phone calls, email and personal notes. Provide information at the beginning of the year on what is covered in the class and what is expected from each student.
- Be sure to share positive as well as negative feedback about students. One idea that works well is to catch students doing something noteworthy in class, and then communicate with parents. Note: some parents might not have internet access or email.
- Consider a variety of communication tools. Ask parents to complete a short questionnaire on their children’s likes and interests. Create a classroom website or newsletter. Have students log their assignments and activities briefly in a notebook and take it home each day.
- Tap into parents’ knowledge. Give them a chance to share their talents and experiences in the classroom, on field trips or before school-wide audiences. Send them a survey asking how they’d like to be involved.
- Encourage parents to spend time at school. Add a “parent section” to the school library and provide office or lounge space where parents will feel comfortable. Invite parents to spend a day in school with their child.
- Give parents a hands-on role in their child’s school success. Ask them to sign-off on homework. Encourage them to provide their children with a quiet study area, a good breakfast, time to read together and supervision over television viewing and computer use.
- Remember, not every child has a parent at home. Be aware of the special challenges facing students who live in nontraditional settings.
A few suggestions about making parent-teacher conferences beneficial for everyone.
- Bridge communication gaps. Find out in advance if you need an interpreter for parents who are deaf or hard of hearing, or who don’t speak English well.
- Schedule wisely. Provide times when working parents can attend. Allow enough time for conferences and stay on schedule. If you are scheduling back-to-back conferences, give yourself a short breather between each.
- Get organized. Have your grade book, test scores, student work samples, attendance records and a flexible agenda ready. Be ready to talk about student progress, strengths and goals, and to answer parents’ questions about their student’s ability and achievement.
- Open with a positive statement about the student’s abilities, schoolwork or interests, and save at least one encouraging comment for the end.
- Stress collaboration. Let the parent know you want to work together in the best interest of the student. Hear parents out, even if they are upset or negative.
- Be specific. Give examples and practical suggestions, rather than talking in generalities. End with a summary of actions you and the parents will take.
If you teach long enough, you are bound to encounter some parents who are angry and/or upset. Here are some tips on how to handle these encounters delicately, but effectively.
- Don’t respond right away when you’re upset by an angry email. Calm down first, then call the parent instead of writing.
- When you meet with parents, the best thing you can do is listen. Let them express their feelings, note the issues that are being aired, and ask questions that show you are trying to understand their point of view. Once they have calmed down, you can begin to give them missing information and redirect the conversation to how you and they will work as a team to ensure their child is successful.
- Don’t get on the defensive. If parents are unwilling to listen to you, ask respectfully if they will meet with you and your principal to discuss the situation.
- Remain professional at all times. Choose your words carefully. Never argue, yell or use sarcasm.
- Try to keep the focus on the future—what you and the parents will do to make sure the problem will not recur.
- Set a date for a follow-up meeting or conversation to go over the plan and determine whether any changes are needed.
- Document both positive and negative contacts with parents and keep the records in a file for future reference.
- If your supervisor asks you to meet with parents to apologize for your conduct, contact your building representative or local president before you agree to do so.
I need help with classroom management strategies and techniques. What resources are available?
There are many excellent online resources available. Here are links to just a few of them. Read below for some tips that might be helpful.
Classroom Management Tools from the National Education Association
NEA Works4Me. More articles and resources from the NEA.
Ed Communities. IEA/NEA members have free access to this online forum, where educators from around the country share ideas and insight.
SupportEd. A very thorough compilation of stories and content on a wide variety of education topics.
Better Lesson. Lesson plans and more are shared on this site.
Tech Net. Articles, videos and other resources.
Here are some basic tips from veteran teachers about classroom management. These are especially relevant for early career educators. An effective teacher is a leader–someone who can motivate students and show them why it’s in their best interest to learn. The day-to-day reality, however, is that you’re also coping constantly with minor annoyances, squabbles and other disturbances. How do you create and maintain a positive learning environment?
- Create a supportive classroom. Be approachable. Let students get to know you by sharing something about yourself, your family and your pets. Notice and acknowledge students; let them know that you care about them, respect them and think they can succeed.
- Be aware. Good teachers know what’s going on in the classroom at all times, so they can anticipate trouble and head it off–a quality sometimes referred to as “eyes in the back of your head.” Arrange your classroom to make this possible.
- Structure the time in your class. Students need a predictable schedule to feel safe. Start each class with an attention-grabber such as a word of the day, trivia question or math problem–whatever enhances your curriculum.
- Try to minimize students’ frustration levels. The most important behavior intervention may be an academic one. Arrange lessons so that students can succeed. Allow them to choose ways to satisfy the requirements of your class. You may eliminate many frustrations that lead to disruptive behavior.
- Teach study skills along with subject matter. Many students do not know how to study, develop an outline, or use multimedia resources, and their frustration can boil over into behavior problems. For example, you might review graph-reading techniques and charting procedures in math, or technology applications that can help them succeed in other subjects.
- Give students specific ways to ask you for help. Some students aren’t comfortable asking you in front of the entire class. Others don’t know any alternatives to yelling or interrupting. Arrange for students to give you a signal when they need help, such as putting a book on the corner of their desk. Make yourself available after class or school.
- Be the one in charge. Students want you to be the adult, not the buddy. They don’t want you to tolerate disruptive behavior. Let each student know it is his or her responsibility to control his or her behavior.
- Know your stuff. The better you know your subject and pedagogy, the better your students will respond to your teaching. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so and try to find the answer.
- Dress for success. Avoid sloppy clothes or anything provocative, tight or skimpy. If you present a professional appearance, you’ll get more respect from students, parents, administrators and colleagues.
Where can I find information about legal protections and responsibilities for educators? What if I need legal help related to my job as an educator?
Educator Rights and Responsibilities
Be aware of and be compliant with the Code of Ethics for Professional Educators: As an educator, you are a professional and hold a professional certification. Like many professional occupations there is a Code of Ethics by which you must abide. Become familiar with the Code of Ethics and the ten principles. If you run into a situation where there is a question about whether certain behaviors comply with the Code of Ethics, talk to a colleague, your local association building representative, or your local association president. Many ethical mistakes can be avoided by simply asking the question.
https://sde.idaho.gov/cert-psc/shared/ethics/Code-of-Ethics-for-Professional-Educators.pdf (Code of Ethics for Professional Educators)
Always maintain your professionalism. Teaching can be hard work and many teachers can find themselves from time to time in situations where they are poorly treated by students, parents and administrators. In the heat of the moment, it is easy to react and do things that you never thought you would do, or say things you know you should not say. Be very thoughtful in these situations and remember the noble profession you represent. Take the high road. There will be plenty of time to vent at a later date.
http://www.interventioncentral.org/behavioral-interventions/challenging-students/dodging-power-struggle-trap-ideas-teachers (Helpful article with various difficult-situation tactics)
Turn in your employment contract on time. There are a limited number of days you have to return your signed employment contract. Idaho law states that you have between 10 and 21 days to return your employment contract. These contracts are a standard form maintained by the State Department of Education. There is no deviation from these form contracts, unless you work in a charter school. The standard contracts contain many rights that are incorporated into the contract by reference, such as all applicable laws and regulations, your local board policy, and the local negotiated Master Agreement. Failure to return your contract in time will likely result in your position being declared vacant for the next school year. So watch those dates carefully!
http://www.sde.idaho.gov/topics/admin-teacher-contracts/ (SDE page with all the standard contracts)
https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/Title33/T33CH5/SECT33-513/ (Idaho Code provision on timelines to accept a contract)
Do not abandon your contract. Get permission. Once you sign your contract for the next school year, you are legally obligated to work for that school district. Failure to do so is a violation of the Code of Ethics for Professional Educators, Principle VIII. If you fail to fulfill your contract it will more than likely lead to a report to the Idaho Professional Standards Commission, the governmental body that determines whether a teacher has violated the Code of Ethics. Discipline for violations of the Code of Ethics can range from a reprimand to revocation, depending on the facts. If circumstances force you into an inability to fulfil your contract (like a spouse transferred to another state, or a medical emergency, etc.), then you should approach your school district’s board of trustees with the help of the IEA and ask permission to be released from your contract. Many Boards understand that life is unpredictable and will release you from your contract.
You must report child abuse, neglect or abandonment. As an educator you may witness incidents of children being harmed, or circumstances that would result in harm. Idaho law requires everyone who has reason to believe that a child under 18 has been abused, neglected or abandoned to report it to a proper law enforcement agency, such as the police or child protection services (CPS), and to do so within 24 hours. The law also requires reporting when someone observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would result in abuse neglect or abandonment. To do so, you must either directly report of facts, or cause the facts to be reported. If you ever do need to make a report, do it in writing so that you can prove you did it. Failure to report is a criminal offense.
https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/title16/t16ch16/sect16-1605/ (Idaho Code section on reporting child abuse, neglect or abandonment)
Rebut Negative Evaluations. Many teachers, quite reasonably, are reluctant to rock the boat when they receive relatively minor criticism in an evaluation from an administrator. This approach may be the appropriate response — particularly where the critical comment is an isolated occurrence and will not likely lead to any adverse employment consequences. However, in those situations where a school district administrator and a school board use prior criticisms to justify placing a teacher on probation for performance reasons, a failure to timely respond to the criticisms may be viewed, as a practical matter, as agreement with the administrator’s adverse comments. Idaho law provides all education employees with the right to notice of what is placed in their personnel file, and to respond to anything placed in their personnel file, including evaluations. Teachers and other educators should not be shy about exercising this right.
Apprise IEA Staff as Soon as Possible Concerning Employment Issues. Time is often of the essence in protecting and pursuing your rights. The IEA will be less effective in its ability to advocate for your rights if there are delays in contacting your association. IEA staff are trained advocates who truly want to help and can handle matters in an efficient and confidential manner. Do not hesitate to contact the IEA when issues arise, or it looks like there may be problems on the horizon.
Be bold when accused of misconduct or criminal wrongdoing. Most teachers, when faced with accusations of misconduct or criminal acts, want to either explain themselves, justify their conduct, or profess their innocence to either school district authorities or law enforcement. However, even when a teacher is innocent of wrongdoing, oral or written statements made to school administrators or law enforcement can be inaccurate or misconstrued. Teachers, like all other citizens, have a constitutional right to remain silent, obtain legal counsel, and not make statements against themselves. In the relatively rare circumstances where an educator is accused of misconduct or criminal wrongdoing, the educator should not volunteer to give an oral or written statement; rather, they should immediately contact their region director who will put them in touch with IEA legal counsel for advice.
Keep your own set of professional papers. Every educator should have a “Professional Papers” file that includes records and documents relating to his or her employment. Start yours by finding your teaching certificate and putting it in the file. Keep the file in a safe place at your home. Check off the items listed below as you add them to your file. Continue to add to and maintain the file throughout your career. It will serve you well.
- Your teaching certificate
- College transcripts
- Your current teaching contract and any supplemental contracts
- Leave records
- Any letters of reprimand or praise
- All professional evaluations going back to your initial employment
- Documentation of awards, commendations, or honors you receive
- Records of any job-related seminars, workshops, or conferences you attend
- Letters to and from parents
- Record of any incidents that may increase your liability, such as disciplinary actions, student accidents, and so forth
Idaho Education Association (https://idahoea.org/)
National Education Association (http://www.nea.org/)
NEA 360 (https://www.mynea360.org/)
NEA edCommunities (http://www.nea.org/home/edcommunities.html)
Idaho State Department of Education (http://www.sde.idaho.gov/)
Idaho Board of Education (https://boardofed.idaho.gov/)
Idaho Professional Standards Commission (http://www.sde.idaho.gov/cert-psc/psc/)
Idaho Code Title 33 (Education laws) (https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/Title33/)
Idaho Human Rights Commission (https://humanrights.idaho.gov/)
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (https://www.eeoc.gov/)
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html)
Idaho Child Protection Services contact numbers (https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Children/AbuseNeglect/ChildProtectionContactPhoneNumbers/tabid/475/Default.aspx)
Idaho Department of Labor (https://www.labor.idaho.gov/dnn)
Idaho Ed News (https://www.idahoednews.org/)
What can I do to help manage my student loan debt?
What resources for loan repayment/forgiveness does IEA have for its members?
IEA has staff and members who are well versed on navigating the student loan repayment and forgiveness process, and we want to help you!
IEA holds Student Loan Repayment and Forgiveness workshops all over the state throughout the year. Any member who attends a workshop will receive access to an exclusive online tool that will assist you in determining the best loan forgiveness option for you and will help you fill out all of the necessary forms!
Email email@example.com if you are interested in attending a free IEA workshop.
As an educator, what student loan forgiveness or lower monthly payment options are there for me?
All individuals with federal student loans are eligible for Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) options. Contact your loan servicer to ask them about lowering your payments through IDR.
Depending on your loan type and what/where you teach, you are likely also eligible for one of the following programs that can forgive some or ALL of your student debt:
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- Teacher Loan Forgiveness
- Teacher Loan Cancellation
Click here for a brief overview of each program. Attend an IEA workshop or contact your IEA region office for more information on these programs.
I work at a school but I am not a classroom teacher. Does any of this apply to me?
Yes! Every individual with federal student loans is eligible for Income-Driven Repayment Plans. And if you work for a public institution (like a public school district!) or a non-profit, you are likely also eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).
Where can I go for additional information?
NEA’s Degrees Not Debt Website
Student Loan Repayment Calculator
Public Service Loan Forgiveness Information
Teacher Loan Forgiveness Information
Teacher Loan Cancellation Information
I am a college student studying to become an educator. Does the IEA have a student program?
YES! Any college student can enjoy the benefits of IEA membership by joining online HERE
Are you currently student teaching? If so, your IEA membership is FREE! Contact an IEA member in your school district or send an email to IGNITE@idahoea.org for information on how to join IEA for FREE as a student teacher.