How do you look after your new teachers in your school?
This is the time of the year when the future of our wonderful profession make their first tentative steps into schools. How welcome does your school make them feel?
Leaving aside the undoubted issues with the busy life of the teacher, do we invest enough time and care in ensuring our trainee teachers have the best experience possible? Thus, keeping the lifeblood flowing through the teaching profession.
Here are my top tips for ensuring trainees hit the ground running in the first few crucial weeks of the academic year.
Does your school spend enough time with orientation beyond the standard INSET day? How do you make sure these new teachers know where all the amenities are and how they work? Which toilets can they use? Where do they make a cup of tea? How does the photocopier work? How do they buy lunch in the canteen? There needs to be at least one person who is looking out for all new teachers, not just their ‘busy’ line manager.
A good suggestion is to appoint another member of staff as a ‘buddy’ for the first half-term.
No visitors badges!
All trainees should have the appropriate clearance, so it is important that ll established staff treat them as a colleague. Ensure they have a staff badge/keys/card that grants them access to the main areas of the school, as well as the resources. There’s nothing worse for any new member of staff to be scrabbling around the school for keys and cards, ‘continually pleading’ with others to help them access resources.
We are two weeks into term now – no teacher should still be waiting for access to anything!
Access to technology
Not everyone can afford to, but consider providing new teachers with a laptop and an email address. I appreciate this is expensive, but this is a good investment in a new teacher. They are unlikely to be in a position to afford to buy a computer or may have moved to a new location, renting or other. Small things like this help people settle into a new working routine at home and at work.
Schools who cannot afford this costs for all staff, can at least use the money granted by a training provider and invest it in a bank of laptops, this ensures new teachers have access to resources and shared folders.
Early access to their email address ensures they don’t miss out on those vital emails, without which they are left in the dark on whole school events and calendars. If you are the new staff induction leader, talk about managing email workload too! Emails can accumulate over a week and equate to a whole, working day!
Bespoke teacher training that it pitched sensitively is critical. Make sure there is a programme for trainees which complements the provision provided by their university or school centre. Take the best of your current CPD programme and add relevant and timely content which is new-teacher-specific around routines, lesson planning and behaviour.
As the school year picks up speed, being mindful of all the above will definitely help new teachers settle into school life with speed and with much-needed support.
Schools that are spending time ensuring the best possible experience for trainees, reap the rewards of high-quality teacher environments, have fewer issues with recruitment and improve their retention. Spend the time, I promise it will be worth it.