One post that has been pretty popular over the past year is my post about New Teacher Orientation. I believe I wrote it at the beginning of this school year and reflected about all of the orientations I’ve been to. Now that I’m not a new teacher at my current school I am wondering about the role that returning teachers could be playing in the New Teacher Orientation at my school.
I haven’t been a returning teacher at my new school so I’m not exactly sure what WILL happen, but I have some ideas for what I would like to happen. Below, I will list my ideas for how a returning teacher could help new teachers or otherwise participate with the beginning/ending of the school year.
Email: Most schools I’ve been at provide new teachers with the email addresses of at least the person they are replacing. If they are really thoughtful they might provide emails of people with similar interests or people who teach similar grade levels. This way not only can a new teacher ask questions about the academic side of their new school, but they can ask people about what it is like living in the city they will be moving to.
Virtual Garage Sale: Whenever teachers leave a school to move back home they either sell or give away their old stuff. Especially when you live in a country like Venezuela where stuff is so hard to find, I as a new teacher, would love to know what people were willing to sell.
Last year a teacher had a Google doc with pictures, prices, and descriptions for everything she was willing to sell. She sent an email out to all of the current teachers at the school and the new incoming teachers. I was so happy to be able to buy a microwave and good knives from her! I simply transferred money to her bank account, but there are lots of ways to pay someone online. Then she left the stuff with a returning teacher and it was ready for me when I arrived!
Not everyone is that interested in creating a Google doc (though it was very handy), but by putting the old and new teachers in touch everyone benefits! Old teachers get money for their stuff (probably at a higher price too) and the new teachers can get some hard to find items at a discounted price.
Create a Map: Old teachers could add their favorite stores, shops, and restaurants to a google map. It is hard to find stuff in Venezuela and if you are a new teacher it is really handy to be able to actually look at a map of relevant places that teachers in the past have enjoyed. This could be printed and passed out to the new teachers.
As a new teacher in a new city (especially in cities that are known for being unsafe) might feel hesitant to explore on their own. Most of the time teachers as placed in “good neighborhoods” so with a little map, they should feel more comfortable exploring on their own.
Update a list of restaurants: I tend to just go to the same restaurants over and over because they are close to my house and I know I like them. In the States I loved using Yelp and Trip Advisor to find new places to try out. Since Yelp doesn’t work here (and there is hardly anything on TA), teachers could work on a Google Doc or blog of some sort to add reviews of restaurants they’ve tried. If I knew that a place was good I would be more willing to risk getting lost to try it out.
Mentor: returning teachers at my school we are asked to mentor a new teacher who comes in. This is all pretty official (and a great idea!), but it tends to end at the end of the school day. I wouldn’t mind showing a new teacher my favorite spots once a month outside of school. I also don’t mind answering questions about the crazy things that happen in Venezuela for people who are not yet accustomed to the way things are.
Un-official Social Committee: At my school we have an official social committee but they are kind of limited because stuff outside of school hours can be kinda dangerous. An un-official social committee could invite new and old teachers to go participate in group events outside of the school hours starting during orientation time.
Something I really enjoyed my school in China did was an apartment crawl, so we could learn where everyone lived (they even made a map for those of us who wanted to remember where we went the next day…). At my last school we found that a great way to get to know new teachers was playing Cards Against Humanity (my favorite game!)…but that isn’t for everyone!
Fun All-Staff Trip: I’m not sure if I mentioned it in my original orientation post, but my favorite part of orientation this past year was going to Cayo Sombrero (maybe my favorite beach of all time) as a whole staff. Everyone was given the option of either going to this paradise on earth, or working in their classrooms. Some people actually chose to work in their classrooms, but I thought it was a fabulous way for new teachers to get to know the returning teachers, specialist teachers, and those teachers in other divisions who I never contacted.
Have you ever participated in orientation events as a returning international teacher? How did you help out?
What a great list of ideas. I think you should be in charge of the new teacher orientation program!
Fantastic ideas. I already have my new school email address and have a few links for FAQs. Hopefully by the end of the month they’ll have the list serve up to contact teachers at the school and to connect with new staff. The director has been awesome though about sending updates. I have a good feeling the orientation will be very helpful which is a relief.
I love it when schools make new teachers feel welcome even before we arrive in the new country! My current school just emailed us the new teachers’ email addresses and the subjects that they will be teaching so we (returning teachers) can welcome them. Love my school!
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Finally got my VPN up and running on my iPad and was looking at your page and saw this post and my response. 6 months in I must say the orientation was less than helpful and the majority of the returning staff were, a big black cloud. Gulp.
It was terrible.
What I can say is my cohort stuck together and we oriented ourselves to the city and eventually found, and still find, our way around.
We’ve made a pact to set new hires up for success next year. We’ve already made lists for tasks new teachers will need to tackle, we’ll have a neighborhood map with stores, metro stops, etc on it, the contact info for the travel agents we all use, the reliable driver who picks us up for the airport, hey need groceries delivered, will lists all the sites. Hey we’ll even include the location of the ATM on the campus outside the main apartment towers (no joke no one said a word to us about this!)
I was so incredibly overwhelmed by the lack of info and assumption that returning staff would take on the role of supporting us, that I cannot imagine letting another new hire feel that way ever again!
We’re definitely creating a “relocation” packet for them!
Maybe you and a few teachers can put together a ‘New Teacher Relocation Handbook’ or something that includes all of the information you mentioned? I love doing projects like this personally! As I continue to research international schools I’ve seen a few of them post these handbooks on their websites. Two of the best I’ve seen are from MEF International Schools in Turkey and Ruamrudee IS in Thailand. These are also good for families of your students, but I think teachers also have specific needs in regards to resources and benefits.
You can check out their guides here:
Click to access Relocation_Handbook.pdf
Click to access plan21.pdf
Our school does have something like this… but I’m not sure when it was last updated. I wouldn’t want to step on anyone’s toes….
Whenever I research a new school and they have a relocation handbook or some kind of faculty guide I always like to read them! haha. I might not ever come close to working at those schools, but I still like reading about how other teachers live!