How responsible do you feel for "helping" new teachers?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by ecteach, Sep 17, 2016.

  1. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    I am a special ed teacher (for those of you who don't know.) We have 3 brand new teachers in my school. One in particular is asking for a lot of help. It seems like the other 2 are too clueless to even know what to ask. Keep in mind that we have 10 (count them 10) special ed trainers in the county. No one has shown up yet to help any of these teachers, and we've been in school over a month. I do work in a large county. But, that IS THEIR job.

    At first I was 100% willing to help these teachers. They are all very nice, and I could see myself being friends with them. But, now I am feeling so overwhelmed. I have a difficult class. I am not complaining. I have already seen progress with behaviors. But, I am TIRED at the end of the day. One of the teachers came and stayed for 2 hours in my room (the length of her planning period) one day. I don't even get a planning period. (Once again, not complaining. I know that comes with self contained.)

    I feel like I need to tell all 3 of them to start asking the trainer any questions they might have. The problem is....the trainer will not get back to them in a timely manner, and isn't going to be able to train them at a fast enough rate if she's dividing her time up by school.

    I also feel like a mean ogre for being annoyed with this situation. I was a new teacher once too, and people did help me. Do I need an attitude adjustment? I kinda just want to be left alone.
     
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  3. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Like you, I would want to help them. However, there has to be a balance so you can also get your work done. Would it be possible to ask them to email you questions if it's not a quick answer? You could phrase your request in a way that lets them know you are willing to help, but you also have to complete your work.

    "Hey guys, I've feel like I'm getting behind in my planning for my class so I really need to protect my planning time. If you have a question, do you mind just sending me an email? Thanks for understanding!"
     
  4. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Are you the only other special ed teacher in the building? Are these fresh out of school, no experience teachers? The answer to these questions will guide my answer to you.
     
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  5. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Sep 17, 2016

    In the districts I've worked in, veteran teachers have been assigned to new teachers as mentors (unpaid). It's just the expectation everywhere. I've mentored two new sped teachers since I started working at my current school. The first didn't need much support beyond the first couple weeks of learning new routines/getting used to the building, etc. She was new to our building but had a few years of experience. The second was a former SSN teacher who had never taught mild/moderate before and she needed TONS of support. However, she was really polite and would always ask me if I was available to help. I got pretty good at saying, "I actually really need to finish this right now. Can we talk tomorrow morning before school?" I found that sometimes by not being "right there" for her constantly (unless it was an emergency of course), she'd figure out the answer on her own a little better.

    If there was a "trainer" whose entire job was to mentor new teachers, then I would feel differently. If someone else is getting paid to train them then I wouldn't want to take on that role unpaid. Can you email the trainer and let him/her know that the new teachers in your building need more support? Maybe list a few things that they keep asking you for help for, and ask how the trainer can support them in those areas? You could also try connecting them with other job-alike people in the district (I'm assuming they have different roles than you- at least some of them are resource, etc.?) Say something like, "Mrs. Smith at ______ elementary is a really great inclusion/resource teacher and has the most experience in this area. Why don't I give you her email for when you have questions specific to resource, inclusion, etc." Another idea is to look for strengths that they all have and try to get them to use each other for more support ("New teacher A is doing a really great job with her IEPs, you should ask her to walk you through one.)
     
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  6. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Ohio requires new teachers to go through four years of Resident Educator training and gives those teachers a mentor (I am the Instructional Mentor for my school) but that doesn't cover veteran teachers who are starting a new position or school. At my old school, I tended to help all of the new teachers, including those who might have already had an official mentor. Our job as teachers is to help children to learn. Helping other teachers would be to help their students.
     
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  7. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I don't mind helping new teachers, but if the newbie is demanding four or five hours a week, I get a bit impatient. I had one who wanted me to do her work. I'll help but I'm not going to do someone else's work.
     
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  8. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    If you are the only teacher, then tag, you're it. However, that said, I wouldn't give until it hurts without talking to admin about the extra service you are providing, and see if there is either another teacher in the district to help with this load, a monetary stipend, or a lessening of your own case load while you get these three teachers up to speed. If admin insists that this is on the special ed trainers, then that is who I would put it on, with the occasional moments catch as catch can. Admin should be realistic and there should be pay for bringing along three new teachers, and if they are going to continue to believe in trainers who are a dollar short and a day late, let that be. You didn't create the problem. Commiserate with the new teachers, throw out a few bones, but keep your life sane, or they'll be looking for a fourth new teacher by year's end. No one person can do it all.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2016
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  9. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    I am the only one who isn't new to this county. I guess one could call me a "veteran" at this point since no one seems to stay longer than a year in my precious county. One of the teachers is brand new. 2 have experience, but in another state.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2016
  10. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    Honestly, I think I am dealing with some depression as well. Not from this situation...I don't think so anyway. I have never really dealt with depression, so I am not sure if this is what it even is, and I am not sure why I would be experiencing this. But, I just really want to be left alone. When I see them coming I just want to cry.
    Poor me. Pity party. I would never tell these new people this, but it is a huge part of my not wanting to help. I can do my job. I can teach my class. I can have my meetings, but I feel like anything EXTRA at this point is too much. The weird thing is, I really love my class. (Fingers crossed) More than I have ever loved a class before at the beginning of the year.
    I thought about having an honest conversation with my principal Friday, but I just feel like there is a huge stigma around mental health issues, and honestly I am a little embarrassed to even admit it. I am not even sure what else it could be. I don't know these people yet. Maybe I just miss my old teammates? Two of them moved on to other places. The third position is brand new. Hmmmm....lots going on for sure. I guess the best word to describe it would be "overstimulated."
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2016
  11. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    Sorry you feel that way. When I read this I thought that poor teacher is stressed out. You sound like a people pleaser personality so it would probably bug you if you didn't help. Seeing them stirs up a lot of feelings.... anxiety being one I would guess.

    I can't believe you have trainers and no one has been there yet. Maybe you should talk to your p explain that this is going on and you would like to get the trainer in there to help the newbies since you are answering questions that are taking away from your time to provide for your class.

    Good Luck & hugs!!!
     
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  12. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I would go have that honest conversation with your principal, but I wouldn't make it about you and your possible depression. I would make it about your new colleagues and their need for support. Tell him that you've noticed that they need more support than you are able to provide to all three of them. Ask him if he can contact one of the trainers and get them over to provide that support sooner rather than later.
     
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  13. Bunnie

    Bunnie Devotee

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    Sep 18, 2016

    Maybe I'm in the minority, but teaching can already be overwhelming even if you are not a new teacher. It's not my responsibility to help you do your job that you were hired for. All new teachers should get mentors. New teachers should ask their grade level counterparts for advice once in awhile but not for straight out help to do their job. Teaching is not a job that is a "willing to train no experience necessary" field. Everyone should have gone through student teaching and observed other teachers. You become a better teacher through experience over the years, but you should be able to handle the basics your first year.

    I personally have only offered help/advice on small things when a teacher comes to ask me on how to go about implementing something new. I don't spend hours of my day developing lessons with new teachers, they should have learned that in their program. I go to my coaches when I'm not sure how to deliver a concept and flesh out how to teach it but it doesn't take more than a planning period (45 mins) most of the time it's less than 5 mins.

    You need to set boundaries. Unless you are being paid extra to be a mentor you need to tell them sorry I don't have a moment right now. If I am asking for help or advice, I always start with hey when you have a moment can you help me with xyz? I don't ever plan to take more than 10 mins of a teachers time for something or to pick their brain. Their time is as precious as mine.
     
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  14. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Sep 18, 2016

    Don't tell your principal, tell your family physician. There are a lot of really good treatments available for depression, and it would be a shame to let something so treatable permeate your life and job. Treating depression is no more of a problem that treating a chronic infection, so talking to your principal may be great, but if that person is among the ignorant masses who don't understand the organic nature of depression, you may come away feeling like you have been judged. Call your family doctor and have a heart to heart with the doctor, including things like how long the symptoms have been going on, etc. Are you tired and take refuge in sleep whenever possible? Have you disconnected with people, want to be alone? Crying? Dread? Thoughts that the world wouldn't miss you if you were gone? Low energy? Inability to cope with things you once were able to deal with? If you can give the doctor some answers to these kinds of questions, he will be able to differentiate between normal stress and depression or anxiety. Both can be treated. Sadly you are right about the stigma - I work with students who have mental health issues, and I know that being careful who you share with is tricky when you are getting evaluated or starting meds, because you may misinterpret what is being said, making you feel worse. When you are feeling better, if you want to share, you will be more objective and living proof that treatment helps.

    Please let me extend my sympathy for the situation, and my sincere hope that you will see your doctor sooner rather than later about this issue. Don't let worrying about depression or living with depression steal your life, and it can. Best of luck.
     
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  15. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    I agree. I am NOT a mentor. I was asked to be a mentor last year, but with so many IEP Meetings, I didn't think that this would be something I could effectively handle, so I declined. Mentors in our county ARE paid a stipend. But, there are no other teachers in our building who can mentor these teachers. I am the only special ed teacher who isn't new. I also agree that they should at least know what an invitation to conference looks like (and the purpose of it) if they have taught special ed before in another state. Right?
     
  16. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Yes... BUT, as someone who has experience and has started at a new school before, I'll tell you that every school does things a bit differently. They may understand the general process, but they may not know where to find forms, what your school's policies regarding the forms are, etc. Even with my experience, I'm always asking little questions about the procedures, culture, etc. that are unique to the new school I work in. I'm not expecting anyone to sit down and write lesson plans with me, but I appreciate it when a colleague can show me where to find something or tell me what the policy at this building is. I don't need anyone to teach me how to teach, but I do need someone to help me acclimate to my new environment. That doesn't take a lot of time. It only involves answering a few questions now and then, proactively coming to me with info that my colleagues know that I won't know, and sharing whatever resources are already available.
     
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  17. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    Touche'
     
  18. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Also, let me add that, not only do all districts do things differently... So do all states. That's going to make it even more difficult for the teachers from out-of-state to figure things out. What was acceptable in their last state may be entirely different than your state.

    I'm not saying that they are your responsibility to mentor or even help out... but I am suggesting that you keep an open mind and realize that having experience doesn't mean that a new staff member can walk right in and not need any help at all. You're absolutely not responsible for helping them, but I'm sure it would go a long way towards developing a mutually benefical and cooperative working relationship. Just keep an open mind and do what you can do to be there for them. Maybe that means that you go tell your principal that he/she needs to get someone else in there to help them.
     
  19. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    This situation doesn't just sound like a hey where is the form or little questions to me... we are not there. But going on what OP stated it is time consuming and the county does have trainers who should be able to be contacted (and get a reply within a day or so) or they should have done a walk through training to answer some of these bigger questions. I think OP is open to little questions that only take a few mins not her whole prep and beyond. This doesn't sound like a rare occurrence. I think all teachers mentors or not would be willing to help. There is a better way to get some of these items worked through. Set up a time so both parties can be prepared.
     
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  20. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Possibly. But I could also see how having three different new teachers asking little questions could add up and feel as overwhelming as having one person who needs significant support. Either way, it does sound like the principal needs to be notified that more help is needed.

    It sounds like turnover is a problem here... I wonder if it might have anything to do with the lack of support provided to new teachers. I've left a school after one year (last year) partially because I just didn't feel welcomed or supported in my new role. If the school wants to start keeping teachers instead of having to hire multiple new teachers each year, they would be wise to find someone who can invest the time in helping these teachers get acclimated.
     
  21. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    I understand what you are saying. I guess if I were OP I would be frustrated that the people who are supposed to help and get paid to do so are not doing their job. Like OP said she has not been asked/even wanted to be in the position of mentor. It can make this veteran teacher feel just as unsupported as newbies not getting answers. I feel for OP wanting to help, but it's not fair for OP to give up time or feel anxiety if they don't get help.
     
  22. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I agree. That's why someone needs to bring this issue to the attention of the principal, whether it's the OP or one of the new teachers... ecteach, do the new teachers even know that those trainers exist?
     
  23. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    Good question... they may not if they haven't been around.
     
  24. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    Yes, they know the trainers exist. But, they are not in the building, and I am. My TA has even stated that she's never seen anything like it in regards to how much assistance the one teacher is asking for. Like I said, the other two don't ask much. But, they also aren't doing the things they need to be doing. Then when I do say something to them about something that should have been completed they get defensive. We all had the same training at the beginning of the year telling us when things were due and the deadlines. I don't want to share too much. But, the things that were due are not difficult. Anyone with a 3rd grade education could read the instructions and complete the task. (Not being rude, just telling the truth.)
     
  25. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Don't forget, that you were a new teacher once too. For the most part, you (as a new teacher) are left to your own devices and figure it out. And that is all well-and-good, but ALL new teachers can benefit from some consistent guidance from someone who's been around the block a few times.
     
  26. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    I like the title of this thread. New teachers need our guidance and support and at least a few attaboys. I know it has to be overhelming with all the gobbledy gook they have instituted over the last 20 years. I agee they should not use like a crutch and monopolize your time but we all need to pay attention to them. I always introduce myself and offer my help.
     
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  27. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    I went to the doctor, and the blood work showed that my iron level was low. I have been taking 2 extra iron supplements a day along with my regular vitamin, and I feel so much better. I ended up getting a new student Monday, and the child is rather demanding. No one had any idea this child was coming! There's a reason why no one knew the child was coming, but I can not share it. But, I had a talk with my principal and my director and let them know that with the new student, I would no longer be able to help the new teachers other than just to answer small questions. Every time they ask me questions, I just refer them to the trainer. The trainer has definitely gotten the point, and set up meetings last week with all of the new people. The new student enrolling definitely broke the ice and gave me a chance to find my voice. This child is basically a 2:1 ratio. But, I don't mind doing MY JOB! Thank you everyone for listening.
     
  28. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Bunchkin comes first, then you, then your students, THEN any other teachers.
     
  29. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I am struggling with this, as well, but for different reasons. I am mentoring the teacher next door to me. He is a first year, alt cert teacher, and is struggling, especially with management and planning. I am trying to be proactive with him, but he isn't taking my suggestions. I don't want to just barge in and manage his classroom for him, because that takes away his power. He also works so slowly! I just want to be actually supportive without doing his job for him.
     
  30. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    Miss... has he been in other classrooms. Maybe he needs to use a prep time to visit another classroom. I loved doing that when student teaching. I went to visit 4-5 rooms.
     
  31. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I serve as a coach for new teachers w in my own building and outside my district. I love it. I also have a new colleague on my team who is supported by all of my team members in terms of sharing materials, resources and acting as sounding boards. This year I'm also a CT to a ST in my classroom. I find most of these relationships dynamic and energizing. It's not always that way however. Sometimes you might have a colleague or mentee or ST who just isn't a fit personally or professionally. Sometimes the person simply wasn't a good hire. I'll do what I can to help newbies, but they have to bring something to the table.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2016
  32. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    They are giving him and another new teacher the whole day later this week to observe other teachers. I've suggested he do it several times before now, but he hasn't yet. He won't ask questions, and doesn't take suggestions, yet is clearly floundering. I don't know how else I can help when he doesn't seem receptive to it.
     
  33. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I will absolutely admit I would have been dead in the water at my new school if my Social Studies counterpart hadn't been so gracious. She has given me so much help on how to handle our school population as well as the best practices for managing my case load of homeroom students. She and I have now gone beyond helping one another to truly collaborating on coursework, and are creating some amazing Humanities curriculum. I swear, sometimes reaching out to a new teacher is worth it.
     

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