Principals have an important role in supporting new teachers. A new teacher’s success is significantly influenced by the direction and encouragement provided by their principal.
So, how should a principal support a new teacher?
Here’s 10 things:
1. Build relationship
Genuine and authentic relationship is the foundation for supporting new teachers. Care about them. Be interested in them. Pay attention to details.
2. Develop rapport
One of the quickest ways a principal can develop rapport is to genuinely appreciate the new teacher’s efforts. Be compassionate and understanding. Take time to develop rapport, a common understanding.
3. Be approachable
As the principal, have an open-door policy. Make it easy for the new teacher to ask you questions and receive your advice. Clearly communicate your expectations of the new teacher, and encourage them to engage in regular conversation with you.
4. Share vision
New teachers want to know your vision for the school. They are intuitively seeking ways to ‘fit in’ to that vision. Give them something to aspire to by sharing your vision and where you hope to lead the school. Include them and encourage them in the important part they play in your vision.
5. Be welcoming
New teachers need you, as their principal, to make them feel welcome and to orientate them into the school, where appropriate. Introduce them to other staff members and demonstrate being friendly and welcoming.
6. Provide support
One of the best gifts you can give the new teacher is to expose the new teacher to your well established networks. You can make introductions for them, you can help them connect with others, you can provide opportunities for them to engage in professional development – all these help the teacher to feel supported and not isolated.
7. Assign a (good) mentor
New teachers need a mentor. But more specifically, new teachers need a GOOD mentor. Someone who will encourage them and believe in them. Someone who will help them solve problems. Ensure each new teacher has a good mentor who will walk alongside them on the teaching journey.
8. Encourage growth
Encourage the new teacher to try new things, to learn from their mistakes, to keep growing and developing, to bust out of their comfort zone. A growing teacher is a teacher who is alive and who remains passionate for the long haul.
9. Give feedback
New teachers need to know how they are going. Silence is NOT golden. They need encouragement for the things they are doing well and they need constructive feedback for the things they could improve on. (In this podcast, I talk about ‘the feedback sandwich’ – how to give constructive feedback in a way that is well received).
10. Communicate regularly
Talk to your new teachers regularly. Engage them in conversation both formally and informally. Sometimes, just as much (or even more) can be achieved over a cup of coffee in the staff room as it can in a formal meeting in your office. And when the need arises, be bold and have that difficult conversation. Everyone will benefit.
Principals, new teachers need you to encourage them, to support and guide them, and to believe in them.
Enjoy the journey,
And more importantly, enjoy the moments.