Supporting New Colleagues - New Job Part 1
This is the first in a series of blogs I’m going to be publishing this week to help support teachers who have new jobs. The first is one of the most important articles, as this is about how current teachers can support those teachers who are either training, starting their NQT year or moving schools.
The majority of schools this year across the country have new members of staff joining the ranks. Some will be experienced teachers and teaching assistants who are moving jobs and others will be newer to the profession such as trainee teachers and NQTs. As colleagues to these new members of staff we have a vital role to play. People are often very excited and dare I say vulnerable when they start a new post. It's a time in which we can have a big impact. It's important we help and support our new colleagues get off to a good start.
How might we do this? I think it's important to say some of these ideas below will be nothing new. However it doesn’t hurt to have a reminder; You never know what little thing you might miss. Every small thing adds up tp make a difference to your new colleagues experience in the first few days. Try to remember how you felt on your first day and in your first week.
1. Focus on culture
Instead of focusing on structures initially, focus on the culture. This doesn't mean to not provide information on structures such as whole school policies on behaviour, marking and safeguarding. However in the first few hours on the first day, focus on the culture of the school. The caring and sharing between teachers and the support networks that the new teacher will need to help instil themselves within school life.
Connecting socially within the work place is vitally important for any new starter. Make sure you help your new colleague make these connections by introducing your them to key members of staff and providing brief snippets of time for them to chat with the admin clerk, teachers within the department and introducing heads of departments and their departments SLT link. This will hopefully help a person feel at ease and more comfortable within their surroundings. (Do not forget to introduce them to the person who organises the tea and coffee. This is of course the most important person, as any teacher knows.)
2. Collective Responsibility
Enlist the entire department in the success of the new teacher by sharing their strengths and areas of interest. Provide the person with a mentor from within the department who they can go to for help. Allow the department to take collective responsibility for the new teacher’s success. This is especially important when a teacher may be teaching a new subject for the first time. I know this is particularly getting more common in the STEM and arts subjects.
3. Forewarned is Forearmed
Before a new teacher starts provide them with guides to the schools key policies such as behaviour, marking and safeguarding. This will enable them to have a chance to read through this material before they start. However I find it useful to also to provide examples of how this looks in the day to day life of a school.
You could do this by providing a brief summary of the behaviour policy and examples of the schools behaviour policy in action. You may also find it useful to provide login details to key websites and provide extra information on how it is easiest to navigate these sites.
For the marking policy send photocopies of a student’s book on a topic of work. This will allow the teacher to see the schools policy in action and understand what the expectation is from the start. I suppose it’s a teaching from the front line guide. Words on a page are one thing, but knowing how it truly works and how to use it is always important.
4. Key Information
Have key information ready for the new teacher. Have all the key websites and the member of staff’s initial login details on one sheet of paper. Allow the teacher time to login and change their passwords. This way they won't have to go searching for this information. I know myself how hard it can be when you get handed logins and web addresses for core programmes throughout your first week at different times. These can often go missing. The important part is to allow time for changing the passwords when they get this sheet. Remember passwords shouldn't be written down in anything that could possibly look like a password book. Allowing for this time gives your tech team the maximum amount of warning if anything doesn't work to get it fixed before the students come back (hopefully the teacher starts on a PD day).
5. Making the little things count
Make sure their first day is as positive and memorable as possible. Small things can make a big difference such as:
- Making sure the department organise themselves so the new teacher doesn't eat alone.
- Making sure the teachers school pass is ready or made on the first day as a first port of call so they don't have to walk around with a visitor pass on and be reminded that they are new.
- Making sure there is a designated space for your new colleague to organise and store their equipment. Particularly if they don’t have their own room.
- Making sure your colleague has any equipment they may need, within reason.
- Asking how the their day has gone when they are leaving for the day.
- Making sure they don't feel the need to burn themselves out in the first few weeks.
The little touches can go a long way. If we get all of these small, minor and sometimes burdensome in an already busy workload right then research shows you are more likely to get a team player who has often has impact above what is expected within the first 6 months.