Even for the most accomplished of new graduates, the transition from educational to professional context can be challenging. Not only is the new educator thrust into the hurly-burly of everyday teaching, but is expected to adjust to an entirely unfamiliar ecosystem of the service. If you are facing a similar prospect, here are a few strategies for a new educator starting in early childhood services, to help you give your professional best.
Be Part Of The Team
Approaching your professional responsibilities with a team mindset offers many advantages. As a new educator, you not only get learning support from your peers but also a helping hand in case you feel overwhelmed with teaching duties. Additionally being part of a team fosters a sense of belonging to the organization which goes a long way in managing everyday stress and keeping morale high. Here are a few ways to you can learn to be part of your team:
- Use the induction process to get to know members of your team.
- Though you are new, have the confidence that your contributions to your team will be as valuable as that of its more experienced members.
- Think of all the ways you can contribute to the team – with your strengths, skills, training, education, experiences, capabilities, values and beliefs.
- Learn to communicate effectively which includes listening actively, asking questions, reflecting, seeking or offering clarification and responding respectfully.
- be flexible in your approach and open to diverse perspectives
- Nurture your cultural competence so that you can interact respectfully with people from different backgrounds.
- Be ready to acknowledge imperfections and positively accept feedback from team members.
- Develop a growth mindset so that you can reframe mistakes as learning opportunities and can swap the need for immediate approval with the desire to value learning and process.
Build a Relationship With A Mentor
In order to get more focused guidance to meet new educator responsibilities, a mentor is invaluable. Traditionally, mentoring is a one-to-one learning relationship between a novice (the mentee) and a more experienced practitioner (the mentor). A mentor will not only be able to support you with the intricacies of learning goals and practices that your service follows but be available to develop goal-setting and critical reflection with you as well as provide useful feedback and strategies for improvement. Best of all, by increasing the leadership capacity of the service, mentoring supports the professional development of all educators – new and experienced. To build an effective mentoring relationship:
- Know where to look. Ideally, A mentor is not a line supervisor, as a hierarchical relationship may not support positive reflection in the new educator. You can look both within and outside your organization for a mentor like the educational, an educator working within another room at the setting or another setting of the same organisation, a previous university or vocational training supervisor or faculty, an educator assisting with evidence-gathering for teacher registration or an educator met through an educator network.
- Be willing to put in the time and effort in your relationship with the mentor that should include positive intent, trust, honesty, commitment and mutual respect.
- develop your communication skills so that you and your mentor can understand each other with respect and insight.
- be ready to open up your practice to review and dialogue; rather than getting defensive about your practice, accept the possibility that your mentoring relationship can help you to build a strong foundation for your professional growth.
Beginning at a new service and becoming an educator is a journey of discovery and challenges that all new graduates face. Teamwork and mentoring are two strategies that can effectively support you and equip you with lifelong skills and practices to be your professional best.
New Educator Survival Gude, ACECQA
Helping Teachers Thrive, Harvard