You’ve waited a long time to have your own classroom, but what do you do when you have a question — or several? Find out how you can set yourself up to succeed.

Besides kindergarten students and their parents, no one is more anxious on the first day of school than a new teacher. After years of coursework, a practicum, and a grueling interview, it is finally time to lead your own class. Now what? You entered your classroom in August to find boxes of curriculum material, outdated manuals, and no idea where to begin. Like most first-year teachers, you were hired and then expected to acquaint yourself with all aspects of your new and complicated role. Many districts have formal induction and mentoring programs to assist teachers new to the district. However, if you are in a district that does not, seeking out an experienced, positive, and trustworthy colleague will help you to navigate the beginning of a rewarding career. It is essential to remember that asking for help is absolutely critical to both your professional development and the success of your students.

Many studies show that teachers who participate in induction or mentoring programs outperform those who do not. These teachers’ students achieved at higher levels as well. In addition, mentored teachers “performed better at various aspects of teaching such as keeping students on task, developing workable lesson plans, using effective student questioning practices, adjusting classroom activities to meet student interests, maintaining a positive classroom atmosphere, and demonstrating successful classroom management” (Ingersoll & Strong, 2011, p. 225).

Finding a mentor

Identifying a potential mentor is an important decision, and without a formal program, you will want to work with your principal or assistant principal to find a suitable mentor. It is essential that your mentor recognize the time commitment and the benefits of mentoring a novice teacher. The following criteria for mentors may be useful when approaching your principal and determining if the suggested mentor is the right match for you. Potential mentors are teachers who:

Log in or become a member to read more!
Want to read the rest of this article? Pi Lambda Theta members enjoy full access to Educational Horizons online.