New teachers often experience the shock of being a teacher. In this post, we will look at three common shocks new teachers face. These shocks are the shock of the classroom, administration, and peers.
Shock of the Classroom
A new teacher has to deal with the reality of the classroom. The problem here is that teachers are highly familiar with the classroom experience as students. This warps their perception of the classroom as they are no longer a student but a teacher. In other words, the student is now on the other side of the desk as a teacher.
This change can be difficult to adjust to. For example, it is common for new teachers to struggle with developing appropriate relationships with students. By appropriate it is meant avoiding the pitfall of trying to be buddies with the students. Cordial relationships are good as a teacher but the teacher is still an authority figure who needs to respected and obeyed by the students. This balance is difficult for many teachers to find as many new teachers want to be liked.
Another major challenge is the implementation of all the various teaching strategies that were acquired as a student-teacher. All teaching styles work but all teaching styles do not work for all teachers. It takes time to develop a personal style of teaching and this is learned mainly through trial and error. Unfortunately, the students are the guinea pigs in this process of instructional mastery.
Shock of Administration
Working with the principal also demands a shift in perspective. All teachers were students who interacted with principals before but at a larger social distance. Now as a teacher, the social distance is smaller but this can actually make things more confusing in terms of how to relate.
The principal is a colleague but also superior. They can support a teacher’s teaching with advice and counsel but could also, and even simultaneously, believe that a teacher is unfit for their school. This dual role of supporter and judge can be uncomfortable for many.
Some principals have an open door policy while others say they have an open-door policy because that is what they are supposed to say. Some will help while others will say they will help because that is what they are supposed to say. The mixed messages can be frustrating. However, if there are any significant problems at a school it is the principal who is the first to pay the price. Therefore, many leaders are not only looking at the teachers but also trying to watch their own back.
Shock of Peers
Another shift in perspective needed is dealing with peers. Again, a new teacher brings their viewpoint of being a former student with them when interacting with fellow teachers. Now as a teacher, a new teacher gets to see what teachers are really like. The gossip in the breakroom, politic intrigue with the administration, complaints about parents and students, and more. Sometimes the atmosphere can be somewhat negative, to say the least.
Dealing with other teachers is not always negative. There are opportunities for collaboration and learning from more experienced teachers. However, it is important to know both sides of the experience so that a new teacher is not disappointed with what they see.
The main problem here is that a new teacher has to deal with changing their perspective on how they see education. Going forward, a new teacher is an authority figure and not a friend and a colleague/employee and not a student. With this transition comes confusion that can be overcome with time.