Here is the 2nd half of my thoughts...Consequentially if it wasn’t for a relationship the school had with a university in the area, in which “coaches” came in and assisted teachers with implementation of standards and helped to increase test scores, I would have been languishing in the wind alone, or worse quit. What kept me coming back day in and day out, besides my arrogance and stubborness was I had the advantage of being 1) older than many new teachers 2) from a family of teachers and 3) had the university coach take the time to sit in my classroom every day for over a month to help me with the adjustment. In addition to pedagogy, classroom management and other first year issues, he also helped with the minutia of attendance, grades, homework and keeping up with general duties of having 40 kids per hour for 5 periods a day with only one “conference period” and 30 minutes for lunch. The first two reasons helped, the third saved me.
So am I "teacher bashing" as some of my critics (or rather critic) claim? Quite the contrary, teachers need to know curriculum, but they also need to know where the copy machine is and how to get the code – not to mention they need to know they need to bring their own paper (take note sign up for all the Staples, Office Depots or any other value cards you can!). Teachers need mentors who have been either teaching for a while, are new themselves (the cohort philosophy), or both so that they can learn how to ask the right questions and have a shoulder to lean on.
Oftentimes, teachers don’t even know what questions to ask because they are either so excited to teach that they think that’s all they have to do, or are so overwhelmed that they are embarrassed to ask for fear of their “not knowing” reflecting poorly on their performance evaluation (see: http://www.aetv.com/teach-tony-danza/). No one learns through osmosis. We need to be able to fail so we can succeed. Not many professions are scrutinized by so many in the public arena as teachers. We are supposed to be "experts," "highly qualified," just “know.”
Final thoughts on Friday...please feel free to comment or tell your own new teacher story.