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Challenge 7.  Sink or swim mentality

Most teachers have lived through “trial by fire” experiences during their first year in the classroom. For a long time in the U.S., there has been a widely shared assumption that “trial by fire” is a natural part of entering the profession. Despite recent efforts to deprivatize teaching and make it more collaborative, it continues to be a fairly isolated activity in many schools. To complicate matters, beginning teachers often do not ask for assistance. Many believe that asking for and receiving help will reduce their power and call their professional competence into question. As a school leader, there are a number of ways that you can address the “sink or swim mentality” prevalent among new teachers and promote collaborative practice.


Preparing beginning teachers for “Firsts”

Helping beginning teachers seek advice

Orientation handbook


  • Be available for help by communicating to new teachers when you are available and how they can reach you.
  • View the induction process as supporting the effectiveness of the entire school community.
  • Help beginning teachers learn strategies for “first time experiences” such as parent-teacher conferences and curriculum nights.
  • Help new teachers locate websites that chronicle the experiences of novice teachers.