My loss is your gain. My loss in this case is the slightly traumatic event of my first year teaching. What do you gain with this? I want to let you know the supports that I didn't get and what you really, really need. This is for ESL teachers and non-ESL teachers alike (but it may look a little different for #3.) Here is the cheat sheet goodie to keep handy and share with your fellow newbies.
1. School-based support
I was sitting there at my desk in my new classroom. It was positioned in front of the rows of student desks staring back at me. The walls were bare and the checkered floors had pieces missing. There was no hint whatsoever of the former teacher that was "run off" by my students. They liked to tell me this frequently. That they ran her off because she just couldn't handle it. And they were going to run me off too, they said.
Over my dead body, I thought in my head. This was my first year teaching and they didn't know I was a stubborn Taurus. They also didn't know that I was getting an extra stipend for being there, and I was not going to quit since this was the most money I'd made, minus some really good waiting tables shifts here and there.
But I realized as I sat there alone that I was...alone. I had no mentor, no coach, no friends at my school. I had never even student taught. I was in the trenches. Come to think of it, I did happen to make a friend one day in my first two weeks who ushered me in his room as we went on lockdown and I didn't have a key to lock my door (let alone go to the bathroom!). I will say, I did end up making friends there and finding people who could support me. And I do actually look back at the experience fondly. But what a rocky start! And I'm glad that this experienced help me find what I enjoy doing today, which is helping other teachers.
So at the school level, it's so imporant to find a buddy, even if you are an introvert like me. I found some buddies who taught in rooms next to me. I still talk to one of them today! By finding buddies, I could find out these basic things that seem so simple, but honestly no one ever told me.
2. District-based support
For district, I'm mostly referring to your ESL office. Depending on your district, your ESL admin can assist you with:
3. Instructional support
The first two in this list are necessities a teacher needs to get by. They need the basics like copy paper, where to make copies, supplies, and payroll. They also need some sort of curriculum. But who will help them implement their curriculum? Who will help them with instructional strategies and how to use them? Who will tell them what is working in their instruction, what needs refinement, and how to grow as a teacher?
This is a person who is not your friend, not an admin, not your evaluator, and not a coworker. It can be, but it's nice to have a person that is coming in with an objective point of view and will tell you the truth about your teaching in the best possible way. This person is your mentor or coach, and your district may assign you one, or you may need to find one in your PLN (Professional Learning Network) on your own, virtually. There are so many great educators and resources out there on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Some of the other things a mentor can do are:
I hope that my YouTube videos can help serve your instructional needs, especially if you are a new ESL teacher. Follow along there or on social media and you will find other great educators in the process! And if you feel you need a mentor or a peer coach for your teaching practice, click here or send me a message to ask me more! I'm here to serve you!
To learn more about strategies for incorporating language into your lessons, check out my course, My EL Mentor: Creating a Language-Rich Classroom! And if you are a high school teacher, consider joining my membership, My MLL Mentor, to discuss ideas like this with other high school ESL teachers!
I teach high school ESL and peer coach high school ESL teachers in my district. I enjoy sharing my strategies and materials online and love learning new things from other teachers of Multilingual Learners! Let's learn together in my high school teacher membership just for Multilingual Learners!