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Challenge 3. Unclear expectations

Beginning teachers often struggle unnecessarily because they are confused about what is expected of them and they receive little feedback on how they are doing. In particular, neglecting to socialize new teachers into the school’s professional community or culture can lead to enormous difficulties and frustrations. As a principal, you can do a number of things to help clarify expectations for beginning teachers, assist them in getting their questions answered and help address their needs.


  • Provide opportunities for beginning teachers to ask questions. For example, school leaders can offer invitations for informal conversations or lunch/coffee, or they can regularly check in with the new teacher in order to establish trust for open conversations.
  • Meet with beginning teachers individually or as a group and help them articulate their needs. They may be facing difficult situations or they may have certain goals they want to accomplish. By helping them articulate their needs, you can provide them with resources and support.
  • Work with new teachers to set goals and work towards them. By doing so, you can give them positive feedback and guidance for initial success.
  • Incrementally celebrate beginning teachers’ successes throughout the school year. For example, you might celebrate managing the first day of school, holding the first curriculum night for parents or getting through to a difficult student. This can be done in a variety of ways including e-mail, a short note, acknowledgement at a staff meeting, a staff cheer, a professional article that validates the new teacher’s work or the gift of a professional book.
  • Encourage beginning teachers to raise their “Most Burning Questions” at staff meetings or in informal conversations.