In 2015-2016 I served as a new teacher mentor in our district for one year. In that year, I was trained under the New Teacher Center and learned invaluable skills in supporting new teachers. When I returned to the classroom in a hybrid role in 2016-2017, I knew that one of my passions was supporting new teachers.
I was able to be a trainer for our teacher’s New Teacher Orientation, specifically for teachers at my site. This gave me a chance to build relationships with these teachers before they arrived on site and be seen as an instructional expert and resources available for them.
At the beginning, we were focused as TTDs on supporting all teachers, offering professional development to all teachers. We worked with the district mentors to see where we could help, and observed and gave feedback on an irregular basis to new teachers. We relied a lot on district mentors as our energy focused on regular PD for all teachers.
A mid-year survey from the mentors showed that new teachers wanted more (and we were feeling like the veterans wanted less)! So we started new structures in the second semester. Weekly, we issued a newsletter hand-delivered to each new teacher called “Newbie News.” This allowed another face to face contact, allowing us more access to classrooms. We were able to remind them of PD available and give them timely tips, much like I did in my former role.
We worked with the district mentors to offer monthly trainings called “New Bull Academy,” in topics like backward planning for standards and tiered assessment for differentiation. These were lunch and learns, catered by our culinary department. We were able to bring in district trainers, department heads, and admin to help facilitate. Mentors were at all meetings too. Newbies got the support they craved, and we got a captive audience for support.
Next year New Bull Academy is a full year structured support program of my design. It begins with our site orientation in July, a full notebook of tips, and just in time monthly support sessions on various topics. At the same time, I’m running a teacher leadership academy for our department heads to become instructional leader. My goal is to ultimately have alumni of New Bull Academy become inductees into a teacher leader academy path, so that they realize that all teachers are expected to lead on our campus.
Equity is directly addressed in the content of New Bull Academy. We also know that our struggling learners often have the newest teachers, so we are also addressing systemic inequity through empowering these teachers directly, giving them the best tools and support in differentiation.
This reflects teacher as leader, as I took my skillset and connections from the district level and took initiative to apply them within my school’s context.