What to Do When You Need Help

Article by Jessica Magee

Whether this is your first year of teaching or if you are a veteran, there comes a point during every school year where things are not going as planned. It’s normal to feel isolated and confused on where to go to get help. Sometimes you are the only one teaching a specific content, or you don’t have the same planning period as others that you feel can help you. Don’t feel helpless! You have options.

Other Teachers

The simple answer would be to ask another teacher. Then you realize that your planning period doesn’t match up with theirs and feel it’s not fair to ask them to stay late because you need help. Guess what? Teachers enter their profession because they want to help students and helping you become the best teacher possible does just that. Will they always have endless time to help? No, but that doesn’t mean they won’t give you a quick answer and allow you to observe their classroom during your planning period. Watching something in practice can be much more beneficial than simply being told what to do.

Remember Your Administration

What if you are new to the school and don’t know many of the teachers? Talk to the Principal. They won’t judge you. They want you to be the best teacher possible because that leads to student success. Principals and Assistant Principals are a wealth of knowledge. They didn’t get into their positions without learning a few things along the way. Another advantage they have is that they get to observe all the teachers in your building, leading them to know everyone’s strengths. If they don’t know how to how to help you, they should be able to lead you to someone who can.

Online Communities

Some of you are probably thinking these suggestions sound great, but what if I don’t have any time available during my school day. This is where the internet has helped us overcome isolation. Whether you are looking for help with your specific content, best practices, behavior or any of the other many aspects of teaching — there is an online community to help. Twitter is a great place to ask questions and learn the latest trends and research. You can join educational chats specific to your needs and ask questions from educational experts in your area, grade, content, etc. Not a fan of Twitter? There are also sites like www.weareteachers.com that give you access to lesson plans, blogs, and spaces to converse with other educators. The key is to search around and find the platform that is easiest for you.

Remember, if you are struggling with something it is very likely that there are many others that worked through the same issue. You don’t have to figure it out alone. Model what we expect of our students and ask for help.

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