New Teacher Tips - Why New Teachers Need Mentors

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I remember the first year of teaching very clearly. I was in my last year of teacher college. I was teaching 4th graders English as a foreign language in Israel. I was very eager to teach and they were very eager to learn. There was just one problem of concern.I was a new teacher. But I was also very determined to succeed.

I was dealing with many other factors that new teachers do not necessarily have to deal with in their first year of teaching. I still was learning Hebrew and the Israeli mentality. I was teaching in a school system that was vastly different from what I was used to from the States.

However, I still had to survive as a new teacher. I remember going up to a teacher who was older and experienced after observing her in her class and asking her if she would be willing to be my mentor. I felt a little bit embarrassed by my request, but I saw that she was willing and happy to do it.

For seven months, I came to her house, we sat and talked about other non related school matters. That eased me in quickly. I told her that I felt like a new immigrant in the classroom. She said, "That's because you are! You're American teaching Israeli students!" It became clear to both of us that I needed to watch my classroom management grow and I quickly learned from her tips and strategies that would develop into my own belief system.

My experimentation with classroom management techniques started with observing her teacher presence in terms of how she used her voice, the things she said, the way she organized her time and the blackboard. If you can observe a teacher while you are teaching, it can be one of the most helpful things. You are actually a shadow but the information you get is invaluable. You see most things that you wouldn't ordinarily see when you stand in front of thirty five students. I spent time observing students' behavior. looking at how they behaved and reacted to the teacher and quickly wrote these things down.

Years later when I had students watching me in the classroom, I encouraged them to do the same. I called this troubleshooting techniques. I told them that one day they might need to act on the spot and the information you get observing a student or watching how a teacher handled a particular problem in the class can quickly give you confidence. You may not have all the immediate answers how how to deal with difficult students for example, but teaching is all about trial and error. There is nothing immediate.

I will end here by saying that I cannot emphasize more, the importance of finding a mentor. It is one of the best thing that had helped me survive not only in the first year but even later when I made the decision to move from teaching elementary to High School.

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Dorit Sasson has 1 articles online

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This article was published on 2010/03/29