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New Teachers Let's Connect featuring Melinda Thomas

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

Hello, Edumagicians. Welcome back to the EduMagic podcast. Today I have a great guest with us. Her name is Melinda Thomas, and she is the founder of New Teachers Connect. She's going to be sharing her story during our chat today. I also have a segment with Katy Gibson, the co-author of EduMagic Shine on a Guide for New Teachers. She will share a little about a tech tool called BitMoji. I think you have heard of it, and she will share how she uses it in her classroom. So stay tuned to hear more from Katy. But now, we have Melinda sharing all about the new teachers' connect group and the power of connecting as a new educator.

Melinda and I met a couple of weeks ago on social media, and she runs a community for new teachers. So if you're a new teacher this fall and just graduated in May, turn up the volume. We got tips and strategies. This a fantastic resource just for you today. Melinda, welcome to the show.

What led you on the journey of education?

So it's kind of a funny story. I didn't grow up thinking I wanted to be a teacher, so I started there. I pursued psychology in college because I wanted to help people. So I thought psychology would be the best route to go. I was taking a course I wasn't doing my best at that time. And so I went to my professor, and I noticed that he had a long line of students waiting for his assistant. So I told him, "OK, if you can focus on helping me, I will help your other students who need help with their course." So while he was assisting me and improving my grade, I was working with some other colleagues, I guess in a way tutoring them. I think it was maybe like once or twice or so a week. I met with them, starting with maybe two or three of my colleagues. As I continued to grow, I noticed that they were starting you were starting to click for them.

They were starting to get excited about the course they were in because it started to make sense for them. And one of the young ladies there asked me, why are you doing this? You know, you could be doing anything else. And that's when it clicked that I love doing this.

I love seeing other people grow. I love educating people.

At that moment, I said education was the direction I needed to go, and that is how I'm going to help people. I changed my major, and I have not looked back since then. I won't say what happened in the course of an embarrassing story, but I will say that I'm so glad that I made that decision because it was at that moment I fell in love with education.

I wonder if that leads us into our next question about new teachers connect. Can you share about what it is? How do we join? Why should we join?

It does coincide very well. So New Teachers Connect is a support group for new teachers, tenure teachers, and anyone who is passionate about education. But we do concentrate on new teachers. The reason being is that it started when I was a new teacher. Yes, in my first year of teaching, I had a lot of anxiety, and the anxiety came from starting a new profession, this being my first career, being out of college, and everything like that.

And so I thought to myself, if I'm having all these feelings of anxiety, just, you know, I want to say being afraid, I must not be the only one who feels this way. So that's how new teachers connect started because I saw it as an opportunity for me to connect with other teachers who could say, hey, I'm scared too, but we can get through this together.

Whether you're a new teacher or tenure teacher, we all need support.

It started with the idea of knowing we can support each other; we can grow together through this. So that's how it started as a new teacher, and it's grown since then. As I said, we support new teachers, tenure teachers, and anyone passionate about education because, technically, I'm not a new teacher anymore. Still, I feel for new teachers because I once was a new teacher. And let's face it, we all were new teachers at one point. So with that being said, I just love the opportunity to work with new teachers. Not only that, but we all also need support.

Now, how do we get involved in connecting with new teachers for those who are listening? Where can we find this thriving community supporting new educators as we enter our first year of teaching?

It's at New Teachers Connect_ IG, and of course, the IG stands for Instagram, just so you know. We are also on Facebook. On Facebook is where you can find our private Facebook group, New Teachers Connect. Once you join the group, new teachers connect on Facebook. That's where you'll have access to opportunities to serve the community. We do fundraisers. Not only that, but we also love to shout out what our members are doing.

Teachers are doing amazing things not just in s but outside the classroom. So our motto is serving beyond the classroom because we recognize that we do great things every day, and we can serve beyond the classroom, like I said, through community service events, through the fundraisers. And not only that, we want to promote our new teachers to take on those ideas that maybe new teachers may feel that they don't have the experience to do want to provide them with a platform to say, hey, we're here to support you.

I'm here to say, hey, I was a new teacher that started you. It's something that I'm passionate about. We want to join. We want to provide our members with the platform and the opportunity to connect and promote themselves. So the group is excellent with that.

Why is it important to connect?

Well, I think it's funny that you say that we're not an island as far as we know. But the funny thing about that is that sometimes we feel like we're on an island. As new teachers, we come into the profession thinking I'm having these areas of I call them areas of improvement. You know, I'm having. We all have them.

Yes, I have these areas for improvement. I'm afraid to seek the help I need because I'm sure I'm the only new teacher. And I know exactly how that feels. As a new teacher coming in, I felt that I felt as a new teacher if I said I'm having trouble in this area that area I would be looked at as maybe like the weekly so weak link, or I would be looked at as possibly incapable of doing this very challenging job, no matter how experienced or you are. I think the power of connecting is realizing that we're all in the same boat and doing the same thing. We all have our fears. We all have our areas for improvement. And there's so much power and sharing with someone. Hey, this is an area in that I need support. And that person saying, me, too, you know, I need help in that area, too. And that makes you realize, wow, I think I'm on an island when we're all in this together.

Speaking on areas of improvement and connecting with others allows you to receive the support you need because where you see it as an area of improvement, another person might also see it as a strength for them. So when you can team up with other people, you're able to kind of, you know, feed off of each other your strengths, your areas of improvement, and you're able to go after those innovative ideas that come with an ever-changing profession.

I think that's just some of the great things. You can gain another perspective. You gain various solutions to a problem. Whether you're an experienced teacher or a new teacher, you will find that every year you get a new set of students, you get a new set of students, and every student is different. There's no one size fits all. So the constant ongoing conversation of how do we meet this particular child where he or she is, you know, this particular child is showing.

In this particular behavior, how can I support this student so that they can access the information as just as well as their peers having those discussions? You gained so many ideas. How to approach it? Do you have to use every idea that you get? No, but you work because you'll get many ideas about your use and what works best for you. So I think those are some great things that come with networking and connecting with others.

What are your 3 go-to tips for new teachers?
  • Find balance. I think as a new teacher, you become consumed with the job. And it's not for any reason, but because you start to take what happens at work, home, and get close to students. Having that balance is what will give you longevity in the field.

  • You're forever learning. Make sure to take a step back. Imagine yourself on the outside looking in when you are looking from the outside. You're able to see kind of how you're handling the situation.

  • Remember that you are an example that your students are looking to you to know how they should handle situations and circumstances.

Did you join New Teachers connect? What are you waiting for?

This one is featuring Katy Gibson, the co-author of EduMagic Shine on a Guide for New Teachers. SWe got a new teacher vibe going here, and she's going to share ways that she uses bitmoji in her class.

Katy Gibson teaches middle school science and social studies, and an essential tool she likes to use is bitmojis. You create yourself as a cartoon character.

  • Bitomoji on the classroom door

  • I asked my students to email me their bitmoji to be put on the wall around the room as long as it was class-appropriate. And they did that, and it helped develop the community.

  • So usually, where my email signature is, I'll have my bitmoji and information, and it's cool and adds personality.

  • Add them to your PowerPoint slides because they will create a community differently. The students will see you on that inside, even if you create videos, but incorporate them in your slides to add humor instead of jazzing it up on your PowerPoint slides.

  • An excellent way in a positive way to build relationships with students you might not know throughout the year.

  • Create anchor charts

  • Classroom jobs

How do you use bitmojis in your class? Reply below with your great ideas!

Remember, new teachers. You have the EduMagic in YOU!

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