by Julie Dodd
JEA Mentoring Committee co-chair

Lisa Dabb’s “Twenty Tidbits for New Teachers” provides an interesting and ambitious list of possible to-do items for new teachers.

I’m selecting four of the 20 that particularly apply to new journalism teachers and advisers.

Tip #3 – Build Relationships
Building relationships is very important for high school media advisers. Media advisers need to know every teacher, administrator and staff person in the school. Advisers need to know what department each teacher is in and what sports or clubs the teacher sponsors. The adviser needs to establish a good relationship with the bookkeeper, who will be helping process publication funds (i.e., yearbook sales and paying bills). The adviser needs create a good working relationship with school administrators in helping promote a school culture that promotes student press rights.

Tip #4 – Communicate
Dabb encourages teachers to communicate with the parents of their students. This is very true for high school media advisers. They need to help the newspaper or yearbook students’ parents understand the special demands of being on a media staff — from attending after-school and weekend deadline sessions to selling ads. The adviser may want to take the staff to an out-of-town journalism conference and will need parental permission for students and perhaps financial support, too. Parents can be great advocates for a media program with school administrators and/or the school board.

Tip #6 – Get a Mentor
A new journalism teacher in the JEA Mentoring Program has a special mentor. Not only can the JEA mentor help with issues related to being a new teacher but provide journalism and advising insights and coaching.

Tip #7 – Ask for Help
In her blog post, Dabb says that in her 10 years of being a site principal she found new teachers failed to ask for help — even when they knew they needed help. She encourages new teacher not to consider asking for help to be a sign of weakness. In the JEA Mentoring Program, we, too, have found that some of the new teachers we work with are hesitant to seek the help their mentors can provide. On step mentors can take to help address this problem is to schedule regular meetings with their mentees rather than waiting for the mentees to contact them when in need.

I’ll add my own tip to Dabb’s 20 tidbits:

Julie’s Tip — Don’t Be Too Zealous in Taking on New Tasks.
Being a new teacher or being an experienced teacher teaching in a new subject area is a big job in itself. With textbooks to read, lesson plans to develop and grading, a new teacher wants to take on some new challenges (and get outside his/her own classroom) but not become too overwhelmed by taking on too many new tasks.

Thanks to Peggy Gregory for sending this article to me.