This past weekend, I attended a 2-day Novice Teacher Symposium with two colleagues/friends of mine. This event was a first of its kind, hosted by the district. Of course, with any first event, there are bound to be “complications” so two out of the three of us almost did not attend after not knowing whether to respond to the invite or the rejection email.
That’s the thing about being a Novice Teacher, you are being invited and rejected to the space of education at the same time. It gets really confusing because you don’t know whether you are on the right side of doing things or still needing to prove yourself from the left side. So, I guess my fifth rule/advice from the symposium is to network, as for help and in so doing, you building your support structure who believe in you being on the right side. That should more or less start with the people who hired you and selected you to be in their department.
I remember from my first year, all the number of times I was told that or even made to feel that I’m “doing too much.” Or all the reasons I was given of why my idea won’t work. And a feeling that it was my fault that I had been hired. It was a horrible start that I don’t wish for anyone. I wasn’t the only one in my network that I learned were in equally (and seemingly more) traumatic experience just as myself. Novice teachers come with ideas, hence we are hired, which obviously doesn’t make sense when you want to place a Novice Teacher to be in the same box as everyone else. It almost broke me, until I learned number four to always be my authentic self, apparently everyone else is taken.
It was just then, of course with a change in leadership for the school, as well as a move up in leadership in myself. I realised that I have a voice, and I would be doing the learners a huge disservice if I didn’t begin to, number 3, walk my own teaching journey in my own identity. Every teacher is different, every school is different, every learner is different, hence it is important that a Novice Teacher finds their place marked in their own DNA. I’m told that my desire for leadership gifts me to be administrative but also I have my heart in creation. I get excited by new things, even if I have to complain first to get it out of my system. I know I’m not the only one.
In my excitement for new things, I always need to remember that I cannot and should not take it all on me. I burned out so many times last year, in the form of crying, in the form of sickness and generally just shutting down and getting easily annoyed by so many things and sometimes people. So number two, is your teacher well-being needs to be a priority. At the symposium, an educational psychologist said, “It is all about balance.” I want to highlight or add, “It is all about YOUR balance.” Two novice teachers could/will have different meanings to what balance is for them. I don’t mind getting to school early and leaving later than everyone else with my teacher besties because we don’t have the responsibility of family after work (as an example). Someone else would, so their work-life balance is completely different. This I hope is a teachable moment for all …
Number 1 🥁
A teacher who had won multiple prizes, provincially and nationally, for being authentic, innovative, with her own DNA/identity, etc. said, “The first rule of teaching is always being teachable.” I guess, number 5 to now means nothing to someone who doesn’t want to be taught anything new. The word “novice” means some inexperienced and new in a particular field. I’m still novice myself, but I already know that, that 1 year of experience can help the 5 new teachers in my school as long as they remain teachable. I know that I can still grow and develop, so long as I remain teachable. We need to learn from both the matured and the novice. Because I refuse to believe that teachers don’t have anything to bring to the table. So let’s eat and make our brains fat with knowledge.
The Novice Teacher Symposium for the past 2 days, was quite enlightening. I’m so happy I chose to be at the table, instead of letting the rejection bother me. I didn’t have to say too much but I walked out feeling validated and quite powerful. The theme was true to itself Ready 🔴, Steady 🟡, Go 🟢 🏁🏎
Start your engines!
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