Supporting Beginning Teachers

old school

As you get ready to go back to school, many of my former students are entering your school’s classrooms and libraries. They are smart, motivated, and want to have a career of impact.

In May, one of the ASCD Express‘s feature articles on the theme of “Supporting Beginning Teachers” was a letter from a new teacher to her colleagues, written by Bethany Kelly. It’s excellent, and I’m excerpting some of the pieces that librarians can and should help with as you rev up for the new year!


Dear Colleague,

I’m a new teacher in your school, and I need your help. I think I’m prepared to deal with the challenges that come with students, parents, and the school district—but I’m not. Here are some ideas to help you help me. I appreciate any support you can provide, even if I forget to say so.

Help me settle in.
- Give me a copy of the previous year’s yearbook so I can learn the names of my colleagues. Teachers’ room numbers and a map of the school would be helpful, too…

Make my job a bit easier.
- What am I supposed to do with all these hall passes and bell schedules? If you have a solution, please share.
- Help me avoid doing dumb things. Do you know of online communities or established groups that will give me feedback on my lesson plans? I might not find out about them on my own.
- Don’t assume that I’m a type-A person just because teachers have that stereotype. I would love to be handed a curriculum map and some lesson plans even if they are suggestions and not mandates. And please be clear what is a suggestion and what is a mandate before I begin planning my year from scratch…

Remind me that students are kids.
- In a classroom full of students, I feel like I’m the only reasonable person present. Help me understand that sometimes, I really am…
- Give me a heads-up on days when very little will get accomplished, such as the day of the first pep rally or the day before prom…

Help me fill the gaps in my own education.
- I’m really proud of my hard-earned education diploma. Don’t tell me it’s useless.
- Are there strategies—for instance, cooperative base groups—that shouldn’t be attempted until the rosters are finalized in the third week of school? Give me a heads up…

Thanks for your guidance and patience; I’m doing my very best.

~end quote~

Thanks, guys. It’ll mean a lot.

Image source: “Old School” by alamosbasement on Flickr

One Response to “Supporting Beginning Teachers”

  1. Kara Fribley says:

    Love this! I think I will be creating my own letter that looks a lot like this as I approach being a new teacher this year.

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