Lately, many of the teachers I support have been expressing a desire to take risks with new and different teaching strategies. One strategy many teachers are investigating is station teaching. Over the next two weeks I will attempt to respond to their needs as best I can through group work sessions, classroom observations and modeling.
Here are some videos from Teaching Channel.com that provide examples!
One of the most recurring topics of conversation within the groups of beginning teachers I support is teacher assistants. Some of the most common concerns I hear include:
“I don’t know what to give Mrs. T. to do. She is always ready for the next job and I can’t keep up.”
“She doesn’t think I should do it this way… Do you think she’s right?”
“He knows the kids and the program better than me. How can I possibly give him directions? I’ll just follow his lead.”
“I don’t know how to tell her that I don’t like the way she interacts with certain students.”
“The teacher assistants aren’t getting along with each other and I’m stuck in the middle.”
It’s no surprise that this can be one of the greatest stresses for beginning teachers. A beginning teacher is often the newest member of a classroom community. In many special education settings, students remain in the same classroom for more than one school year. This often means that even the students are a part of the community that the beginning teacher is joining. There may be routines and procedures previously established that everyone knows except for the teacher. Consider an awkward pause at a party, when you are the only one that didn’t understand the reference to an inside joke. For many beginning teachers, being faced with “that’s not what we did last year” and, “Mr. G. did it a different way” can be deflating at best.
Beginning teachers generally recognize the value of having another adult support in their classroom. They have subbed in classrooms where a teacher assistant was their savior. They have heard horror stories of classrooms that should have had a teacher assistant but did not… Mostly, beginning teachers are thrilled to have the luxury of a teacher assistant and want the relationship to work. The best way to make that happen, many think, is to be nice. And luckily, the beginning teacher is pretty sure that s/he is already nice… so this should really be a non issue.
Making it Work
It’s too bad that within their studies of Educational Psychology, Differentiated Instruction, Methods of Teaching Science, Assessment Strategies and Mathematical Literacy, pre-service teachers don’t have a required field placement that focuses on management, collaboration and leadership. A semester analyzing the work of an inspiring manager whose employees always give their best effort and report feeling respected at work, would be quite a learning experience. I have yet to hear a beginning teacher tell me that s/he has such an experience… but I’m still asking and hoping! In the meantime, while I wait for the colleges to add this class for me, I do have some suggestions for teachers.
I was first introduced to the idea of a writer’s notebook by my tenth grade English teacher, Mrs. Catamaro. I loved that notebook! My notebook helped me see who I was as a writer, and focus on the writer I wanted to become. It met my needs as a learner the way nothing before had. I was impulsive and unfocused, and in my writer’s notebook my ideas and Mrs. Catamaro’s feedback would wait for me. I could read and reread. I could process what I wanted, when I was ready. I’ve used the writer’s notebook with my own students and hope I provided them with opportunity to navigate their learning that Mrs. Catamaro did for me.
My Blogging Territories(Like in A Writer’s Notebook, these are ideas I want to remember so I can write about them later)
Common Frustrations & Pitfalls of New Teachers
Curriculum- Where is it? How can I write it? I haven’t even learned their names yet!
“I don’t want to be mean…” Let’s explore consistency and inconsistency. How can we lower students’ anxiety? Which teacher actions actually model respect?
Feedback, grading & that gigantic pile!!
Top Ten myths to dispel around Home/ School Communication: No news is good news, right? In high school, parents are just more hands off… they want it that way…
Educational Issues that keep me up at night
Meaningful Reporting Systems: A,B,C,D,F… but what about E? Why do we report? To whom are we reporting? What is the goal? Do all of our answers align?
Creating Communities of Respect
Effective Teacher Evaluation
The push to privatize education, and the lack of honesty around the push
I am an educator, a dancer, an over-thinker, a dog lover, a writer and a pasta addict. This blog will be dedicated to education… mostly. Since I became involved in my school district’s initiatives around topics like co-teaching and standards based reporting, my wheels have been in a constant state of motion. Over the last five or six years I have poured my heart and soul into collaborative work with so many dedicated educators and district leaders. We have come so far and are so close to reaching our goals.
Last year I began the journey of a lifetime! I have spent the last academic year coaching beginning teachers and training with the New Teacher Center. I have been working with sixteen other coaches. They are brilliant, thoughtful, positive and driven. We share a common goal- to improve educational outcomes through induction. These coaches, along with our amazing trainers from NTC, and the beginning teachers I support- challenge me every day. We learn from each other and we think. We think critically, and are exhausted by it.
In this blog I will attempt to capture some of this thinking and learning. I hope to connect the great work I see and hear in classrooms all around our small state to the domains of our teacher evaluation system, which is based on Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching. I want to share these connections because I believe in the value of Danielson’s work. I saw connections everywhere I looked this year. When teasing out what teacher actions contributed to student learning- teachers always found components of the domains. I want everyone to have access to those same ‘aha!’ moments I have, and for everyone’s students to benefit. I hope you come back often to learn more about this year’s journey!