IEA Members Share Their Advice
Returning to the classroom after summer break can cause anxiety for even veteran educators, but it can be especially daunting for early career educators. So many students, parents and colleagues to get to know. So many policies and procedures to learn. Where is the restroom? What is the bell schedule? Who do I turn to if I need help?
That last question is where we come in. If you need help, your best resource is your colleagues in the building, especially those who are members of the IEA and your local association. We are committed to supporting fellow educators and elevating our profession.
We recently asked IEA members for their top nuggets of back-to-school advice, and are happy to share some of their responses.
- Always remember that you are receiving an entirely different batch of students. For example, if you teach fourth grade, think to yourself—“I am receiving third-graders, not middle of the year fourth graders/fourth graders ready for fifth grade. Sometimes it is hard to restart the brain and not expect the new batch to behave and perform where the last batch left off. Holy Jo Shea, Maries Education Association
- Time spent building relationships is crucial. Getting to know names, talking with individuals, reaching out to parents by letting them know how excited you are to be working with their children, finding common interests in your classroom—these are the activities to be engaged in during your first days. Kaywin Cottle, Cassia Education Association.
- Make sure you slow down enough for your students to really “get” what you are telling them. I know it seems as if you need to throw all the info their way at once, but you don’t. Slow and steady wins the race. Amy Galloway Biggs, Coeur D’Alene Education Association.
- Focus on building relationships with students above everything else. The connections that are made are more powerful than the curriculum you will teach. Topher Wallaert, Mountain Home Education Association
- Give yourself grace! The kids will tell you what they need to know. Build community and enjoy getting to know each individual learner. Kerry McGrath, Coeur d’Alene Education Association
- Get to know the administrative assistants and custodians really well. Bring them gifts. They are the ones that are really in control of the school. Bruce Twitchell, Coeur d’Alene Education Association
The National Education Association also has some great resources for early career educators and help with back-to-school strategies. Here are links to a couple of stories.