by Arnav Harve, Staff Writer, November 2021
“I [just] found out about our turf fields…I had no idea that they even existed.” Does this sound like something a new student would say? It was actually Biology Faculty Mary Kelley, one of the new faculty members this year. Her experience as a new teacher is a lot like ours when we first came to school: that potent mix of nervousness and excitement, when we were unsure if we were going to fit in or how to even get around the school. This year, our school welcomes seven new faculty members—some who have known the school for a while and others who are seeing campus for the first time. As the school year gets underway, some of us are wondering: what is the new teacher experience really like?
Before the school year starts, new faculty have an orientation designed to help them transition smoothly into the year. They figure out where their classes will be, meet their department heads and other important faculty members, and get to know each other. Dean of Faculty Maura Sullivan, who oversees the process, remarked on the importance of these orientations: “Even for teachers who have taught in different places before, every school has their own unique culture […] and we try to acclimate them to some of that before they get into the classroom.”
Kelley found the orientations helpful, but added that having a campus-wide tour in addition to learning about where the classes are would be even better. “Piggy backing on a student tour would be kind of cool, seeing [the school] through their eyes as well as getting sort of an inside scoop on where everything lives,” Kelley said.
Mathematics Faculty Mike Grilli also appreciated the orientation, although he felt that COVID-19 limited how well he could have gotten to know the school. “In a normal year, part of the interview process at school is going to the school and interviewing in-person and getting a feel for the rhythm,” Grilli said. Because of his virtual interview, Grilli didn’t get to experience an active campus and the flow of classes until the first day.
During the school year, Kelley and Grilli have found the support of other faculty to be enormously helpful in their transition. “I think that one of the great things that I noticed very early on about the school is the camaraderie amongst faculty and the support at several levels among faculty,” Grilli said, highlighting in particular the support from the Math Department.
Nobles provides many opportunities throughout the year for faculty to interact with each other, especially new teachers. Sullivan explained that fun events are often organized for teachers like trivia nights and “Coffee and Treats” get-togethers. “Especially coming off the pandemic, we’ve been trying to put in time for adults to just be together and get to know each other,” she said. Kelley has appreciated the events, saying, “[They] have been nice because I think that sometimes, it can be hard to branch out to other [departments].” The school also organizes periodic meetings for new teachers about topics like Back-To-School Night and the process of completing grades and comments.
The start of the school year can be challenging for all the new people on campus, and the faculty is certainly no exception. Grilli felt that the added workload and time commitments, particularly with the afternoon program, was something new he had to become accustomed to. Coming from a school with only 300 students across K-12, adjusting to a much bigger student population was also initially a challenge. However, both Grilli and Kelley expressed how easy it was to make friends with faculty, particularly within the afternoon program.
In reading this article, some of you may have resonated with a lot of the new teachers’ experiences. If you see any new faculty members around, be sure to give them a warm welcome and help them with anything they need—their experience was probably a lot like yours!