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New Teacher? Switching Grades? 14 Orientation Tips for Teachers and Principals

August 09, 2016

As the new school year approaches, there are many educators who are dealing with more than just preparing for a new classroom. Some teachers are completely new to the school or grade level where they will be teaching. And while these new experiences are exciting, they can also be daunting.

Luckily, a study found that when administrators offer high-quality onboarding programs along with district orientation, the retention rate of new teachers was over 93%.

Therefore, we thought we would help get all new teachers and principals off on the right foot with a few tips on how to start the school year with a new teacher or a teacher in a new grade level.

Take a look!

New Teacher Tips For Teachers

  • Build Relationships and Get Peer Support
    As you begin your first year, building relationships with other teachers in your grade-level and others at your school site is essential. Having the support of other teachers can help you throughout the school year, if not for anything more than moral support during inevitable stressful periods.
  • Take Charge
    Go in to your new classroom with a plan – a discipline plan. Having a clear plan with both positive behavior rewards and consequences will be helpful in establishing a routine in the first week.
  • Write and Reflect
    Teacher Mike Powell advised, “Start keeping a professional journal. After the course of the year, this journal will allow you to reflect on your professional practices and to witness what is probably going to be enormous personal growth.”
  • Incorporate Technology in the Classroom
    When planning a lesson, think about how technology can aid your lesson to encourage students to participate. Services like i21Zone are a great way to assist teachers in finding the best intersection between technology and instruction.

New Teacher Tips For Principals

  • Print a New Teacher Orientation Booklet
    The booklet should include all resources, expectations, schedules, rules/procedures, and a list of services available to all students (special education, social work, health and medical, etc.). To go the extra mile for your teachers, slip in a customized list of “people to go to” for different issues, such as computer problems, supply needs, and more.
  • Give a Tour of the School
    Showing new teachers around the building, guiding them where to find the offices and their resources, and giving them time to ask any of their remaining questions. Fitting this in as part of the official orientation on top of the time they have to set up their classrooms shows your teachers you value their service.
  • Introduce Your School Technology
    Ensure every new teacher has a login for the computer, email, and student information system. Then, go the extra mile and schedule training for them on how to use them all. Professional Learning Services set up during the summer would help new teachers feel acclimated and settled before starting a year full of new!
  • Provide School System Secrets
    For some new teachers, it may be their first time working at any school. Covering the school’s reputation in student behavior, budget, supplies and resources, parental support, and more can be very beneficial for a teacher to understand before starting the year.

Teacher Tips For Switching Grade Levels

  • Organize Materials by Subject
    Taking your summer break to divide all of your old grade’s materials by subject can help organize what resources you can take with you to your new grade level. If you’re not sure what grade you will be teaching yet, try to separate by primary and upper grade-levels within the subjects.
  • Join a Twitter Chat
    The best advice on teaching a new grade comes from teachers instructing those grade levels themselves. Twitter is a great resource for connecting with these teachers around the country (or even the world)! There is a Twitter chat for everyone, just take a look at this aggregated Twitter chat Google calendar with every chat listed.

Principal Tips For Teachers Switching Grade Levels

  • Supply a Contact Sheet
    Similar to the list of names you give all of your new teachers, supply a new list of “People to go to” for the new grade level. Possibly a department head or a tenured teacher that could be helpful.
  • Set Up a Department Head Meeting
    Extend an invitation to teachers in a new grade level (and completely new teachers) to meet with the department heads. It would be a good time for them to sit down and discuss any outstanding questions about the curriculum. Insider tips are always useful in the first month of school.
  • Meet with Teachers Who Are Switching Grade Levels
    Sometimes teachers put in a request to switch, but other times principals are the ones making that decision. When giving the news that it is time for a teacher to switch grade levels, also include the opportunity to discuss why. Open discussion early in the school year, will allow teachers to feel comfortable coming to their principals with any prominent issues later on.

For more assistance on orienting new teachers to your school, Professional Learning Services can meet with your teachers, principals, and administrators to ensure a successful year.

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