With the new school year beginning Aug. 4, orientation was held Wednesday for new employees in the Hall County School System.
Supt. Will Schofield address new teachers, while TBS sports commentator Ernie Johnson, Jr. and Assistant Supts. Dr. Brad Brown and Dr. Karla Swafford welcomed other new employees.
And though she was not a part of the program Brenau University Professor Billi L. Bromer, Ed. D., is weighing in this year with some advice for new teachers in any school. Dr. Bromer has been helping students become teachers for decades and specializes in child development and education.
“Child development is incredibly important when it comes to being an effective teacher,” she said. “I tell my Intro to Education students every semester that understanding a child can make a huge difference in their learning and in their lives.”
She offers some wisdom for those teachers going into the classroom for the first time or to a new school, as well as for parents who want to know how to best support their child’s teacher.
- Take a whole-child approach. Understanding child development is a key aspect of a successful classroom. “Much like our own experiences, educating children doesn’t just happen by teaching a curriculum,” Bromer says. “The classroom can be a gateway experience for many children. That’s why it’s so important to look at all contexts of their lives and understand them.” A whole-child approach supports students across all aspects of their development as they learn and grow. “It’s important to show them you really understand and care, and you’re also teaching them about trust,” Bromer says.
- Know your learners. The most successful teachers engage with their students’ needs and learn to guide each student in a way that suits them. “When you take the time to learn about your students, you not only find out what makes them tick, but you also build a relationship with them. No two students are the same, and we create more effective learning environments when we consider individual needs,” Bromer says.
- Be a champion for your students. Educators help children succeed, and that includes supporting each student when they face challenges. “Encouraging each child also creates an opportunity to experience problem-solving, respect and communication practices in a real-world setting,” Bromer says. She also encourages parents to engage with their child’s teacher. “Really listen to how and why they’re doing something the way they are. Creating an open line of communication between parents and teachers is critical in effective teaching.”
- Subscribe to a growth mindset. All children can learn; some more quickly than others. The power of “not yet” in learning is endless for both students and teachers. “It’s important to help students acquire their own growth mindset,” Bromer says. The world can change rapidly, including the way teachers use tools in the classroom. Bromer encourages new teachers to embrace challenges as new ideas for themselves and their students – and parents, too, by applying a growth mindset at home.
- Create a class community. Each school year brings together a new group of teachers and learners. “Create a classroom community where each and every person watches out for and cares for each other,” Bromer suggests. “Make your classroom a place each student wants to enjoy as well as learn with their classmates and teachers.”
- Don’t forget to practice self-care. From new teachers to veteran educators, this is one of the most important things a teacher can do. “We hear a lot about burnout, and I hate to hear about teachers feeling defeated,” Bromer says. “Taking care of your mental and physical wellness is crucial.” She urges parents to also practice self-care and show their kids the importance of balance in a wellness routine. “Children will see and learn habits from the adults in their lives. We have to set a positive example.”
Bromer’s key takeaways? Parents and teachers alike can benefit from knowing how children develop and how each learner is unique. It’s also important for teachers and parents to take care of themselves while they care for and educate the children in their lives and to be sure to keep the fun in both teaching and parenting.
(Pictured: Supt. Will Schofield addresses new teachers at Wednesday’s orientation.)