July 1, 2016

Newbie Teacher Boot Camp, or (How to Keep the Peace with Your New Coworkers)

 Congratulations on your new job! You are ready to head out there into the world of education and make your mark on the future. Before you do, this veteran has a few words of advice to make your transition into the trenches a bit easier.

#1 Allow the "Copy Budge"
Everyone is busy. No one has more/less time than someone else (especially in the first few weeks of school). So, if you are on your 5+ class set of worksheets at the copier and you notice someone come in with a single piece of paper in their hand, offer to stop what you are doing and let them copy budge. I guarantee they are just as busy as you and will appreciate the offer. A copy budge will be a win-win. You will save them some time and they won't think you're a copy hog.

If you want extra brownie points, offer to make the copies and deliver them whenever they are complete.

#2 Scope for Groups
If you choose to eat in the staff room proceed with extreme caution. Teachers are creatures of habit and highly territorial (like dobermans defending a bone). Once you enter the arena, carefully assess the area. Are there pockets of people talking? Do you notice any clusters? DO NOT APPROACH these groups. (Especially if said group has an unoccupied chair.) It belongs to someone else. Trust me. That person will be showing up shortly or they are absent and will resume their usual position when they return. Sheldon Cooper's got nothin' on a teacher's spot. Although you may not necessarily hear the words, "You're in my spot", I can guarantee the offended educator will be thinking it.

#3 Park Carefully
The rules for sitting in the staff room apply to the parking lot as well. Yes, you may be the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed newbie who arrives at school the moment the building is opened for the day. But, I recommend parking in a space far from the entrance. Take stock over the next few days of who drives which vehicles and which spots they use. There will be a pattern. Don't disrupt the pattern.

#4 Keep Your Hand Down
When attending staff meetings keep in mind the social order discussed above. These guidance points apply to here as well when choosing a seat.

Now, whether your meeting is 15 minutes (unheard of) or an hour (or longer), keep in mind the following:
A. Everyone else rather be doing something else.
B. Most of the information shared could be condensed into an email or memo.
C. The collective goal of everyone in a chair is to keep the meeting as short as possible.

Thus, do not ask a question at the end of the meeting as your administrator is wrapping up. It will prolong the meeting and keep people away from the things they'd rather be doing (grading, bulletin boards, copies, etc...).

If you MUST ask a question- please make sure that it applies to everyone. Meaning, if you have a specific question regarding a student's unique situation that will have zero impact on the rest of us, save it for a one-on-one with your admin. Or, better yet, email the question.

#5 Watch The Clock
Teachers are slaves to the clock. Not a day goes by that we do not continuously check the time. And it's not for an "estimated time" either. We are dialed in to the EXACT to-the-minute time. Opening, lessons, lunch, planning, dismissal, and ALL BATHROOM BREAKS are dependent on the clock.

With teachers chained to the will of the clock, it is imperative that you are spot on when bringing students to lunch and special as well as when picking them up.

Don't think early is good. It's not. Early means you are "budging" someone's entire class in the lunch line or interrupting a special area teacher's pee break. When picking up, the same principles apply. Bottom line is: be exactly on time.

Good luck as you head out into the wondrous world of education. We have the utmost confidence in your abilities to lead tomorrow's leaders to their highest potential. You will eventually create your own group of dobermans. And some day, not so far from now, you too will look upon a newbie and think, "You're in my spot."


  1. I love how this blog is FULL of real life advice for the REAL teacher! I'm sold on DAY 1!

  2. Thanks, Ellie!
    Glad to hear you enjoyed it.