Tales of a Teacher: New Teacher Support

Becky ThalBlog, Lead Better, Reflect Better


  • This post shares an interview with Susan Jachymiak on why she’s passionate about the topic of new teacher support.
  • Good mentors should be transparent, supportive, and passionate.
  • Many first-year teachers struggle with classroom management.
  • Make sure you give yourself breaks to recharge.

New Teacher Support: Interview with Susan Jachymiak

I’ve been following Susan Jachymiak on social media for a few years now, after connecting in a Twitter chat. She said this is her fourth year teaching, but honestly, it seems like I’ve known her longer. Susan is wise beyond her years. I find her posts heartfelt, inspirational, and her passion to help new teachers succeed commendable. Susan was more than happy to answer my interview questions because she feels this topic is so important. And given the teacher shortage, the decrease in students entering teacher programs, and the alarming rate at which new teachers are leaving the profession, who can argue this isn’t a very important topic?!

Please share a little bit about yourself and why you are so passionate about the topic of new teacher support. 

My name is Susan Jachymiak and I am a 4th-year teacher in Illinois, currently teaching 6th-grade math. I am passionate about this topic because I remember my first year vividly, and my goal during my first few years has been to provide an outlet for teachers, like myself, to have that much-needed support and encouragement.

What qualities do you think are necessary for a good mentor teacher to possess?

I believe a good mentor teacher needs to be transparent and honest along with being supportive and passionate in what he/she does.

'Taking even small breaks at times, whether that is enjoying coffee or playing with my puppy, is necessary in order for me to be the best teacher I can be.' - @MsJachymiak Click To Tweet

What do you think it takes to make for a good mentor-mentee relationship?

I think it all boils down to trust and respect. I had an amazing mentor my first year and my colleagues at my school serve as amazing mentors as well. What makes them great is their willingness to help and support each other. Support truly makes all the difference through the good and bad days that occasionally happen.

What was a difficult situation you faced as a new teacher and who helped you to get through it?

Classroom management was difficult for me. I had experience with that during my student teaching, but being completely on my own was a whole new ballpark. I learned through experience and through trial and error. My mentor teacher always gave me tips and advice that helped.

What was the best piece(s) of advice you received as a brand new teacher?

The best piece of advice I received is to make sure to find time for yourself. I struggled with that my first year, but, over the years, I have found more moments to rekindle my joy and passion. Taking even small breaks at times, whether that is enjoying coffee or playing with my puppy, is necessary in order for me to be the best teacher I can be. 

I also think having a growth mindset helped a lot as well due to having that mindset that I can always learn more and hone in on one particular area each year to improve.

What do you want veteran teachers to know about new teachers?

I want veteran teachers to know that new teachers have a lot to offer and that they do have rich ideas along with experience. I feel like new teachers are overlooked sometimes, and I remember feeling that way too when I started out. It is important for everyone to work together because that makes everything work smoother, and we are all in education for the best interest of the students.

What was your experience like as a new teacher? Did you feel you were supported?

I feel like I had an overall positive experience after a lot of trial and error. I did feel supported which helped a lot, and I also found an amazing PLN on Twitter which helped me a lot through my first year as well because I was able to share my trials and triumphs.

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Besides having a good mentor, what other factors do you think can help set new teachers up for success?

I think dressing professionally, taking the initiative to learn on your own, and growing as an educator in one way each year.  Being able to form positive relationships with students and colleagues is also super important.

Whose responsibility is it to support new teachers? 

I believe it is the responsibility of everyone to support new teachers. New teachers need our support and patience now more than ever and I believe that everyone, including admin, need to be on the same page in regard to the support provided for new teachers.

About Becky Thal

Becky Thal is a former 5th grade teacher in NJ, who recently transitioned to a career in edtech. In addition, she works on marketing projects for the Teach Better Team. Prior to starting her career in teaching in 2005, Becky worked for several years in advertising in New York City. She is active in many online communities as well as her local community. In her spare time, Becky enjoys trips to the beach, trying new restaurants, and attending her kids’ various sports games and events. She lives with her husband, three children, and Labradoodle, who she loves spending time with on the weekends.