Guest post: The New Teacher Toolbox -- Do they have what they need?

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I have been teaching for 26 years and yes, I still love it.  I received my M.Ed. 27 years ago and I have taught first through 6th grade, giving me exposure to how very different each subject, grade and child can be.  I have taught in both public and private schools and my "teaching toolbox" has grown wider and deeper each year.

I sat in the teacher's lounge the other day talking to a group of newer teachers who were trying to find ideas for their next curricular piece. I asked if they had heard of different websites to use for ideas and modeling. They had not. Surprised, I asked them what resources they were given in their teacher prep programs that they could take with them in their "virtual toolboxes" to use in the classroom. They looked at me, puzzled.

"Well, I know about theory," one said.

"I know how to use Google and look things up," said the other.

I know that theory is important, and I see that learning about Piaget and others has a place in teacher prep. However, never in my 26 years of teaching did I ever say to a class, "Now that's odd the way you are acting, or the way you are stumped by that problem...Piaget never said that would happen."

What tools do our teachers have at their disposal upon leaving colleges and universities and beginning their careers in their own classrooms? We are lucky to be in this incredibly fast-moving, fast-growing tech world. But all too often teachers aren't taught how to access the best resources, aren't given concrete strategies that work in the classroom and aren't taught how to connect with other teachers for support and collaboration. "Surfing" the web isn't always the answer.

In my toolbox, I keep listening techniques, cooperative learning activities and ways to manage a classroom. I also have different instructional techniques at my fingertips so that I can make a lesson more visual or add something to bring the "aha" effect, including strategies for using technology (ipads, laptops, and Smartboards). New teachers might not have all of this on-hand when they first begin their careers, but they shouldn't have to reinvent the wheel with every lesson.

There are so many opportunities to learn from other teachers in your school, district, or elsewhere. Amazing websites, like Teaching Channel, have short videos of teachers, just like me, teaching a lesson on a specific subject. The site is easy to navigate, has a lesson planner and has been an invaluable tool for me. Teachers Pay Teachers and Pinterest have also enhanced my teaching. So many teachers are doing it right, and new teachers should have resources like these at their fingertips.

We know that teaching today (and for the future) looks completely different than it did in, say, 1930. Teachers need real world strategies, current resources, and experience reaching out for advice to be successful.