The Professional Development Sessions That New Teachers Really Need

professional development teachers really need

New teacher trainings are a great idea, but too many focus on policies and procedures instead of the day-to-day realities of being an educator. What if districts and schools ran sessions geared towards teaching the essential abilities that new educators need to survive in their chosen field? Perhaps it would look something like this.

Session 1. How to deflect personal questions from students

“Why do you always look so tired?” “Do you have kids?” “Do you need me to find you a girlfriend?” Knowing how to escape these and other uncomfortably personal questions from students is a vital skill. Evasion methods taught will range from redirection (Y’know, that question reminds me of the book we’re reading, everyone turn to page…) to escaping through a trapdoor in a cloud of smoke (Ninja Vanish!).

Session 2. Crash Course in Modern Slang

In this session, new educators will be taught the modern definitions of words like: “Fire”, “Slaps”, “Lit”, “Thicc”, “An-I-oop”, “sksksksks” and others not fit to be printed here. Of course, it will all be out of date by the time school starts a week later, but it’s worth making the effort. We’ll also dive into the Modern Slang For Teachers.

Session 3. How to make the most out of “lunchtime”

You get a few short minutes into which you need to cram eating, hearing the juicy teacher’s lounge gossip, talking to the principal about getting a replacement desk for the one that spontaneously combusted during 4th period and grading so you can go home at a reasonable hour. New teachers are unaccustomed to this level of insanity er, productivity. This session will teach the most efficient method of using lunchtime: inhaling your lunch while grading with one hand and emailing the principal with the other, all while listening just enough to find out why the hall floor is covered in green slime. 

Session 4. How to survive on little to no sleep

Teachers wake up early, get to school early, work hard at school, go to sleep late, and dream about teaching all night. As a result, both quality and quantity of sleep are lacking in this profession. This class will educate new teachers on the most effective caffeinated products to use and how to nap with their eyes open (a skill that has proven to be very useful for staff meetings).

Session 5. How to unwind after a long day

Long days at school really take it out of you, and it’s vital for teachers to find ways to unwind, provided they haven’t had to get second and third jobs just to make their mortgage payments. For some it’s binge-watching TV, eating a delicious meal or doing yoga. For others, it means lying on the couch and staring at the ceiling, doing nothing but appreciating the fact that no one in your home is going to ask you to borrow a hall pass.

Session 6. Common Student Excuses  

“My dog ate my homework” is so 1956. Today’s students have gotten with the times and have much more elaborate ways to explain their lack of homework. I can’t send you my homework because the firewall of my IP address wasn’t pairing with the processing chip in my WiFi router and there wasn’t enough RAM per CPU in the SSD drive,”I have Trigiac Disease, it’s a serious allergy to Trigonometry” andMy mom doesn’t believe in homework are a few new teachers may encounter. This session will debunk these and other student claims.

Session 7. Resource Replenishment

Though teachers start the year with teaching materials to equip Asia Minor, by the time Halloween rolls around the supply cabinet is a barren wasteland. New teachers must learn the dignified arts of crawling on their hands and knees under desks to locate dropped pencils, licking dry erase markers to squeeze every last drop of ink out of them and bartering with the librarian for post-it notes. 

Session 8. Removing Foreign Objects from Students’ Hair

No matter what grade level they teach, at some point, every new teacher will be called upon to remove something (usually a sticky substance of unknown origin) from a student’s hair. In this session, new educators will learn to use common classroom objects (since peanut butter is banned from all schools) to remove the offending sticky stuff without permanent damage to a teen’s precious style or an excess of elementary school tears.

Session 9: Getting to School on Time

Being on time to school is important for new teachers because the faculty parking lot is a dog-eat-dog world where latecomers are forced to park so far out they need a map to make it to the school. Besides, get to work too late and you’ll miss out on the Student Council’s “Teacher Appreciation Donuts”. This session will focus on selecting the most effective (read: obnoxious) alarm tone and safely completing an entire morning routine while in the driver’s seat of a moving vehicle.  

Session 10. How to Maintain Sanity

The classroom can be a crazy place, and new teachers must learn how to keep their cool under the most difficult conditions. Unfortunately, this cannot be taught, only experienced. This session will force the new teacher into a claustrophobic room where they will teach an entire lesson to howler monkeys (for the noise) while a drama class performs scenes from High School Musical on the other side of the wall, cell phones go off periodically with ringtones selected from “Weird Al Yancovic’s Greatest Hits” and instructors key the intercom at random to shout announcements. Under laboratory conditions, this is the closest science can get to reproducing a genuine school day.

No amount of training can truly prepare a new teacher for a life in the classroom. But if sessions like these can keep at least one new teacher from wandering into no man’s land at the back of the parking lot, ripping out chunks of gum-filled hair or relying on a tiny nub of a pencil for an entire school year, then I believe they’ve been a success.

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The Professional Development Sessions That New Teachers Really Need

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Andrew is a Jr. High Spanish teacher. He loves rock 'n roll, Chinese food and collecting military antiques. When he's not teaching teens that "¿Cómo se llama?" has nothing to do with Peruvian quadrupeds, he can be found hanging out with his family, playing drums, buying old Russian helmets and plotting the downfall of internet translation apps.

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