Support for Lesley Graduates in Their First Years of Teaching
The first days, weeks, and months in their own classrooms can be daunting to new teachers. Though the experience may be exhilarating, they can be left wishing for guidance on general or specific matters that might range from classroom management to communicating with parents or to fitting into the school culture. Recognizing such a need over twenty years ago, Lesley’s Graduate School of Education created the New Teacher Community (NTC).NTC was developed by Marcia Bromfield, professor and director of the Field Placement Division, Associate Dean Harriet Deane, and professor Nancy Roberts, who noted the purpose for NTC: “Becoming a teacher is a process…we are here to support you and guide you through some of the hurdles of your first few years.” The group offers mentoring, consultations, events, activities, and grant opportunities to our Lesley graduates in their beginning years of teaching.More recently, NTC director and former teacher Andi Edson has developed the New Teacher Community blog and the Lesley University New Teacher Community Facebook page, with constantly-updated postings and links to relevant articles. Recently posted topics include lesson planning, scaffolding strategies, and conferencing with parents.
Through NTC, beginning teachers may apply for grants for items, events, or projects that will benefit them as teachers or their classrooms. Recent grants include money for conference attendance, molecular chemistry sets, a leveled reading series, puppets, yoga in the classroom, listening centers, materials for enriching phonemic awareness and phonics, and primary source social studies materials. The grant program has been generously supported by Meditech since 2004. Forty grants of up to $400 have been awarded in the past few years.
When requested, NTC pairs veteran teachers with newer teachers who need advice or consultation. Mentors have been experienced classroom teachers (some are alumni themselves) and Lesley faculty. Mentoring can consist of classroom visits with follow-up meetings or online and/or phone consultations. Recently, NTC partnered a novice art teacher with an experienced one who showed her how to use Pinterest, and worked with her on an art curriculum the new teacher was trying to implement. They also linked a new second grade teacher with another teacher who was good at classroom organization. A teacher in Abu Dhabi got advice on how to set up classroom learning centers. A new preschool teacher had a classroom visit from a practiced preschool teacher, who gave her suggestions that provided her with new ideas and energy.
Meditech funding also supports events. This October 19, NTC will present “Effective Classroom Behavior
Management Strategies: Practical Tips and Resources from Teachers Just
Like You.” The focus of this event will be on classroom behavior management and participants will leave with support strategies they can put into place in their own classrooms. "Our events," says Professor Bromfield, "have
participants leaving enthusiastic, inspired, and ready for the
challenges ahead.” Flyer for the event [PDF] »In November, 2011, NTC presented a panel discussion, "What I Know Now that I Wish I Knew Then." In a lively presentation, participants discussed topics such as classroom management, connecting with families, developing a professional community with other teachers, developing a classroom community, and professional development. Spring 2012’s event topic was “Meaningful Conversations: Talking to Parents and Caregivers about Their Children and Things that Matter.” Harriet Deane says that the program was designed to “help teachers focus their individual conversations and larger presentations on what parents and caregivers really need to know.” Experienced teachers discussed strategies for having difficult conversations with families as well as sustaining parental involvement and connections. Topics included parent-teacher conferences, open houses, curriculum nights and progress reports. Other topics have included “Classroom Management and Positive Support Strategies for the Beginning Teacher,” “Keeping the Fire Alive: Staying Inspired Amid a Climate of Assessments and Standards,” and a hands-on workshop, “Technology In Our Classrooms: Making it Meaningful and Authentic,” that acquainted teachers with some of the most up-to-date education-related software and applications. More information about NTC events.
You're a new teacher, and you’ve gotten a few months, or a year, behind you. How do you stay focused? How do you stay inspired and excited? At one of NTC's events, participants came up with suggestions that worked for them:...smile!...remember to laugh...make learning fun...keep a journal so you can see how far you’ve come...have systems and routines in place...keep in mind those teachers who have inspired you, and think of what would define them: zest, devotion, energy, vibrancy—and model your teaching on theirs...cultivate a supportive team of peers and colleagues...and......keep in touch with the New Teacher Community!
Brenda L. Heiman
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Two recent alumna talk about the benefits of the Lesley Graduate School of Education's support for new teachers, the New Teacher Community.