Beginning Educators Need Administrator & Colleague Support to Flourish in the Classroom

 By Caroline Hendren

As a beginning teacher, I learned that a supportive school culture is essential.  Support from administration, veteran teachers and uplifting colleagues make those first few years of teaching sustainable.  Teaching can be an isolating career and I found myself making hundreds of decisions a day by themselves. Having these essential resources will set up beginning teachers for success.

Administrator support can make a critical difference.  As I know from my own experience, beginning teachers often feel overwhelmed, insufficient, and exhausted.  The Center for Analysis of Longitudinal in Education Research conducted a study entitled, “The Influence of School Administrators on Teacher Retention Decisions” which stated that 40 percent of both new and veteran teachers identified dissatisfaction with the administration as the most important factor for leaving. Administrators that are visible throughout the building and can offer an encouraging word or just a smile goes a long way.  One day my principal walked through my classroom and left a sticky note on my office door after observing for a few minutes.  After the class was completed, I read the sticky note and it was positive feedback about the lesson being taught.  During that moment, I felt so valued and supported which helped create a positive relationship with my administration.  Simple acts such as this, give beginning teachers the confidence to continue in the profession. 

Veteran teachers can provide valuable mentorship which allows beginning teachers to feel inspired. Veteran teachers hold wisdom that should be imparted to new teachers.  Having a role model within the school that can guide, reassure, and provide commentary to beginning teachers can help prevent them from leaving the profession.  As a student teacher, my mentor teacher inspired me to continue to have a career in Education.  She was able to teach me skills such as classroom management, organization, and relationship building.  The time and effort she allotted allowed me to be confident going into my first years of teaching.  

Uplifting colleagues can provide an outlet for beginning teachers to feel less alone, share in their teaching journey and continue to foster their love for teaching.   Having a positive relationship within the school community allows beginning teachers to feel supported both personally and professionally.  Seeking a group of like-minded colleagues assures that new teachers will continue to stay positive, enthusiastic and experience a positive “energy contagion.” For example, after a long week of state testing, a colleague brought me breakfast and wrote a nice note and left it on my desk.  That small act of kindness uplifted my spirits and allowed me to continue to show up for my students in a positive manner. Support for educators can make a difference not only with longevity but also with overall school morale and culture.  When teachers have the adequate support from others within the school community, they can make a difference for students that will last a lifetime.

Caroline Hendren is an educator of seven years that has taught in both North and South Carolina. She is a certified mentor teacher and she received the teacher of year award in Aiken County Schools (Clearwater South Carolina).

CREATE provides professional development for teachers and leaders in how to nurture student voice. Learn more here.


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