Here’s a unique challenge for this blog: give new teachers inspiration in light of today’s digital practices.
I remember being a new teacher and feeling totally overwhelmed. There is so much to be said, and I can’t possibly touch on everything.
Perhaps first and foremost would be to get support from the right places, no matter how proud you are. Ask for help; just pick the teachers whom you admire.
With that said (if you’re like me) perhaps a lot of your planning time is spent in front of the computer terminal. What is it you do there? What makes it more efficient than doing hands-on planning with paper and pencil?
Let’s Begin …
To start with, there are many more user-friendly tools out there today. With cloud services and Web 2.0 tools you can get organized, stay on top of paperwork, and communicate with an efficiency never dreamed of before. Make your digital practices efficient and worthwhile, rather than a time waster.
Get yourself into a routine schedule on using the computer and do it religiously, if only for the first month. Hopefully by then it will become habit, or you find other ways of doing things. You find what works and what doesn’t.
Things to Do Daily
Start with a plan everyday. I start my day with a cup of tea, and log into Asana and look at my daily tasks, organizing them by priority. Example tasks might be, “work on this blog or that, or research different projects.”
Whatever task organizer you choose should be your home base; your place to think, gather your thoughts and launch forth ideas. It used to be we could use Franklin planners to do that; now we go paperless with online task organizers. Add the element of collaboration in there, and you’ve got yourself a support team.
Take care of paperwork, and automate the process with a template. If you’re required to do lesson plans, how will you get this done? Try Chalk! Organize your year, your semesters, your units and lessons, and keep it all on the cloud. No more file cabinets (well, unless you print them out and file them.)
Okay, tasks prioritized—check. Lesson planning scheduled—check. You should begin to get a clear picture of how your year looks.
Communicate with your parents and colleagues. Parents can be your greatest allies, and by building trust you and the parents can act as bookends to a safe and confident child.
These tools are too numerous to mention: you’ve got old fashioned email, but there are better options:
- Facebook? Perhaps, but you can do better.
- Twitter, yes.
- Blogging? Definitely!
For lasting documentation and as a way to look back on your year, blogging is the best. Do it properly and it could be a portfolio to the next big step in your teaching career. Keep in mind that for blogging to be at its most effective, especially when you’re just starting, you have to do it pretty much every day.
Things to Do Weekly (at least)
- Nurture your PLN (Professional Learning Network)—This is your support group, your colleagues and mentors from all over the world at your disposal, in an itty-bitty living space. Twitter and Linked In provide the best foundations for this. Join an online forum, or check out some learning groups. Not enough can be said here to cultivate these relationships now. Take your professional development into your own hands.
- Create Flipped lessons constantly—Give exclusive access to your students via YouTube.
- Create online formative assessments—This is fun and easy with tools like Socrative.
- For the students, consider building Digital Portfolios with them. Start with Kidblog, and then when they get older they can transition to Linked In for professional uses.
New teachers should consider how much time they have during the day to spend on computer tasks and block out that time. Keep a timer to make sure you leave room in your day for socializing with colleagues and reenergizing.
Can all your online tasks be done in one sitting, or spread out? Will you have to work at home? Just don’t overdo it at home! Here is some more inspiring advice for new teachers from Edutopia.
Go Forth in Confidence
As a new teacher, I remember that the hardest part for me was organization, documentation, and communication. Rest assured that you don’t have to go through this. With the advent of cloud computing and Web2.0 tools, the job of organizing is easier than ever. When you set up a sacred daily ritual of tending to these tasks, you’ll stay ahead of your game, and you’ll have energy for what really matters—the students.