6 Tips for School Newbies

6tipsIn a matter of days, I will be a newbie in a new school district again! I’ve written about being a newbie at conferences but never about being one in school. Some of the same ideas apply to both and the cool part is that it doesn’t matter if you are brand new to teaching or a vet in new stomping grounds. You can begin the year with a seamless transition.

1. Walk in the building and smile like you own it! (advice from my mother)

A smile goes a long way. It’s inviting and communicates that you are happy in that moment. The idea that you were trusted and selected to influence the minds and hearts of students in that building is enough to warrant a smile everyday. I used to walk up the mountainous stairs of my HS with the biggest smile because I knew what awaited beyond its doors…Kids who needed me and teachers to grow with. That was a powerful thought. Was it easy everyday? NO! There were moments when I had to have a “come to Jesus” with myself. However, it all comes full circle knowing why you are there…so smile. Positive attitudes, like passion, are contagious.

2. Build Relationships

Every relationship matters…every single one. Build them and build them well. Get to know the entire staff, including janitorial and food. Know them by name and have conversations. Every stakeholder in the building is important and a successful year cannot be had without each one. At the same token, invest in who your students are as members of the community that they live. Knowing where they come from will help you on your path to teaching them. I would say that building relationships is one of the most important facets of your new venture.

3. ABL (Always Be a Learner)

You don’t know everything. Own that and make it a goal to learn daily. Don’t limit yourself to learning from your team of teachers only. Learn from the students. They are dying to teach you something. Learn from your administrators. Learn from the librarians. Learn from the support staff of the school. Learn from yourself. Every moment is an opportunity to learn. Take advantage of it.

4. Be Reflective

The key to learning is reflection. Be honest with yourself in all that you do. Your lead administrator, principal or director, has a vision. Make sure that what you do is aligned with that and adjust if needed. It can be a conversation with yourself, a personal written journal or an open blog. You just need an avenue to communicate and be aware of where you are in your new environment and on your journey of growth.

5. Share Your Ideas

Being new does not mean that you don’t have a voice. You always matter! You were hired for a reason and I guarantee you that your point of view was a part of that. When you are in planning, meetings or even in conversations…SHARE. Don’t be afraid of letting your ideas be known because they can and do help support your school. I remember the first day that my mentee spoke out in PLC. It was refreshing to have a new voice at the table. Be that voice because that is one of the reasons that you are there! I didn’t say to overpower a conversation and demand that you are right but communicate with those that are around you. You are a part of the solution too.

6. Stay connected and expand your network with your new peers.

If you are reading this, you are more than likely already connected. In a new environment, this will definitely come in handy as your PLN will be a source of support. Don’t assume that your new school isn’t connected as well. When you engage in conversation, ask them. Also, don’t be afraid to look them up on twitter, edmodo, pinterest or whatever network you choose. Start and continue dialogues on these networks as well. If you see that your school is not connected, model it and bring them along for the ride. I wrote about this here.

While this is a list of 6, not a Hooker list, but a real one…Always model best practices in all that you do! You will have an amazing year!

PS: Dear new team at Arlington ISD, I cannot wait to rock this year with you!


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