It is hard to believe we have already approached the second half of the academic year. We plan to be very busy this spring semester working in school districts to provide professional development and coaching support for beginning teachers. Our Instructional Coaches will be working to provide a total 62 professional development sessions throughout the state in our partnership districts during the spring semester, while also providing ongoing, individualized, in-classroom coaching support for beginning teachers focused on planning, instruction, and assessment.
It has been a pleasure visiting our partnership school districts in the fall and look forward to the many more opportunities to meet with you during the spring semester as we plan for the 2017-18 school year. Our university-based induction model, grounded in research and empirical outcomes, is successful because of the strong connections with schools of education at our anchor institutions in the University of North Carolina system. We are delighted to announce that Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke will be our newest anchor institutions as we continue to expand our work with beginning teachers in the Northwest and Sandhills regions of the state, where nearly 4,300 beginning teachers are working in more than 500 schools.
We look forward to meeting with you and collaborating on the much-needed support for North Carolina’s beginning teachers.
All the Best,
Bryan S. Zugelder
Instructional Coach Spotlight: Rebecca Stanley, UNC Region
Rebecca Stanley joins the NC New Teacher Support Program with sixteen years of experience in education. We're please to have her supporting our partners in Vance County. Most recently she was the Director of Professional Learning for an educational nonprofit where she designed and facilitated learning experiences for teachers from across the state of North Carolina. In this role, she also led a statewide STEM initiative and developed courses in Modeling Instruction in Biology.
Rebecca has experience teaching biology, earth science, physics, anatomy and physiology, and physical science, as well as teaching pre-service teachers. She holds a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, a master's in science education from East Carolina University, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at North Carolina State University.
Rebecca lives in Clayton, NC, and has three children (ages 23, 13, and 10). She enjoys reading, gardening, and traveling.
Recent Event Spotlight: Educational Community
by Michelle Casey, ECU Region Instructional Coach
Community is often defined as “a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage; a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists” (www.dictionary.com). Comparatively, school community is denoted as “various individuals, groups, businesses, and institutions that are invested in the welfare and vitality of a public school and its community—i.e., the neighborhoods and municipalities served by the school” (edglossary.org).
On October 8, 2016, Hurricane Matthew blew into North Carolina and surrounding states, leaving thousands without homes, businesses, families–and leaving students without schools to attend. Many individuals identified with the term "community" during the storm and its aftermath. Unfortunately, many students were impacted by Hurricane Matthew for weeks following the storm. Numerous public school systems were out of operation for weeks and although the floodwaters receded and most began their normalcy, the effects of Matthew lingered for some students in southeastern North Carolina. Princeville Elementary School, which is a school within Edgecombe County Public Schools, was one of the schools impacted by Hurricane Matthew.
Due to the overwhelming floodwaters, Princeville Elementary School was closed. After three weeks of being out of school, students returned to the Edgecombe County Resource Center in Tarboro, North Carolina, where they could continue their educational journey. A sense of community was exhibited by numerous individuals, businesses, churches, and organizations supporting the families and educational community during such a catastrophic event. Lauren Haviland said, “Teachers and community leaders cheered and held signs that said “Have a great day” and “You are great” as students got off the bus or out of their parents’ cars” (wncn.com).
The East Carolina University Region of the NC NTSP provides services for many teachers in the public school system situated in the southeastern region of the state. The Instructional Coaches serve K-5 teachers in Edgecombe County who were directly impacted by Hurricane Matthew: Tiffany Bridgers, Tierra Edmondson, Meredith Vermillo, Emily Seils Kilbourne, and Ellie Beam. Likewise, additional novice teachers (who currently teach in Edgecombe County and surrounding districts) and their families were affected by Matthew. Consequently, when the coaches enter the doors of the schools that were impacted by Hurricane Matthew, they observe an educational community with a sense of the total school investment.
NC NTSP Asks: Q & A with Melissa Hannah, Jackson County, WCU Region
by Jerad Crave, WCU Region Instructional Coach
Melissa Hannah teaches high school social studies at Jackson County School of Alternatives. She is in her second year of teaching and is served by the Western Carolina University Region of the NC NTSP.
What do you love about teaching?
I love the fact that I am getting to impact human beings on a daily basis! Most jobs you sit behind a desk, and have very little interaction with people. Through teaching I get to not only interact with people, I get to impact the lives of my students on a much deeper level. The idea of impacting students’ lives means even more considering the school and student population that I currently teach. Being at an alternative high school means that the majority of my students are coming from rough backgrounds, riddled with poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, and broken homes. I have the ability to bring not only history, but real life lessons, laughter and knowing that someone cares for them every single day.
What do you not love?
I struggle with the apathy that many of the students show in regards for education. I understand that not everyone loves school, or history, but many of them are so talented and could achieve so much in their lives, that it upsets me to see them choosing simply not to care. I want them to see themselves the way I see them.
How has your experience with the NC New Teacher Support Program been?
To be honest, in the beginning I was absolutely dreading it, and fought it hard. I felt like I was far too busy to handle any more meetings or professional development weekends. However, after I reluctantly went to Raleigh for the NC New Teacher Symposium, I quickly changed my mind. During that weekend, I actually had a wonderful time! I met a lot of great people who I’ve maintained contact with, as well as gained a plethora of teaching tools and content based resources. Last, but far from least, as I have gotten to know my mentor, Jerad Crave, better and actually utilize him the way the program is designed, I have developed a great friendship with him. Jerad has supported me through more than just teaching woes; he has pulled resources to help me teach my specific student population better, offered content knowledge and even offered advice on life experiences, such as wisdom teeth removal and speeding tickets! Jerad and the NC New Teacher Support Program have been a blessing to me, even if I reluctantly gave it a chance in the beginning.
What are your favorite teaching tools, websites, or resources?
As corny as it may sound, my former WCU mentor Dr. Engel was very right when she said that there was no need in recreating the wheel! I have found that working with other teachers in my content area, and sharing ideas and lesson plans has been a great tool for me. I have found amazing lessons online from teachers across the country, who have been more than gracious in sharing their lessons and offering guidance in the content area. I have also utilized Teachers Pay Teachers, probably more than I should admit! Although most things do cost some money, there are a lot of free resources available that are high quality and engaging. I have also swear by the Stanford University, Read like a Historian, site. They offer amazing lessons using primary and secondary sources in both American and world history. For civics and economics, I have found that iCivics offers some good things, especially for my students who benefit from interactive games and foldables.
What advice would you give to pre-service teachers about the profession?
I would tell any pre-service teacher that they need to be prepared to be flexible, and that not every single thing they were taught in college is going to be applicable in a real classroom setting. I receive a lot of content on how to teach, however, teaching is what has taught me how to teach. I would also tell them that students change every semester, and the dynamics of the class change with it; this means you and your lessons have to change also. I am not saying to recreate the lessons entirely, but understanding that you may have to tweak a little in certain places in order to best fit your class is a huge possibility.
When you're not teaching, what are your outlets or hobbies?
When I am not teaching, or thinking about teaching, or planning for teaching…. I love to spend time with my friends, boyfriend and family. I love to travel, and I hope to do more in the coming years, especially to history rich places in which I can bring back knowledge for my students. I also love to dance, and take a dance class in Asheville twice a week. Dancing and working out in general has helped me deal with any anxiety, anger or depression that comes with this job. There are days that I leave school drained and worried over students or lesson or whatever it may be. However, if I can force myself to go workout, regardless of how tired I may be, I also leave happier and more prepared for what the next day may be.
What are you currently reading?
I am currently trying to force myself to read is, Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow… however, it is far from Hamilton the musical! The next book on my list is, A Doctor in the Great War: Unseen Photographs of Life in the Trenches, by Andrew Davidson.
Research Spotlight: The Importance of Classroom Culture
Teachers and students spend enough time with each other every day that some form of relationship will be formed. The ways that teachers and students construct and perceive those relationships have broad impacts on the classroom culture, students’ success, and teachers’ well-being. There is mounting evidence to support the importance of establishing a healthy classroom culture (Hamre & Pianta, 2001; McGrath & Van Bergen, 2015; Thapa, Cohen, Guffey, & Higgins-D’Alessandro, 2013), one that is based on mutual respect and a sense of community, where the main focus is working hard in order to learn (Lee, 2012).
Classroom culture is directly impacted by the relationships between teachers and students. In what can become a self-defeating downward spiral, a teacher’s negative characterization of a student’s behavior may result in aggressive or non-supportive responses that make the behavior more likely to occur in the future (Spilt, Koomen, & Thijs, 2011). By contrast, positive relationships identified by students as demonstrating care and affirmative characterizations are linked with elements of positive classroom culture. “Teacher ‘caring’ has a direct effect on student attitudes towards academic and social goal pursuits. Teachers perceived by students as ‘caring’ are reported to have qualities similar to those of an authoritative parent. They provide rules and structure while avoiding the restriction of autonomy (Urdan & Schoenfelder, 2006).”
Student success is more greatly responsive to positive teacher-student relationships than to other factors, including academic press., a phenomenon sometimes referred to as “demandingness” or academic rigor. As Lee found in 2012, "Supportive teacher–student relationships and academic press were significantly related to behavioral and emotional student engagement whereas only the teacher–student relationship was a significant predictor of reading performance."
As if an improved classroom culture and greater student success weren’t good enough reasons to build and maintain positive teacher student relationships, teachers who do so also experience greater personal well-being. “[B]oth in-depth interviews with teachers and correlational research indicates that teachers get intrinsic rewards from close relationships with students and experience negative affect when relationships are characterized as disrespectful, conflictual, or distant (Spilt, Koomen, & Thijs, 2011).”
Teachers, and support staff (e.g., coaches or administrators) who work with teachers, can move from theory to practice in two ways: (1) prior to the start of the school year, plan or co-plan relationship-building strategies that will be implemented during the first few days of school, and (2) ask questions that prompt reflection and a growth mindset. In thinking about the first strategy; Wong, Wong, and Seroyer (1998) have well documented strategies that teachers can use to start the year/semester with positive teacher-student interactions (e.g., greeting students at the door, practicing routines and procedures, and quickly learning names). While standards and pacing guides are certainly important, if they are the focus without a positive relationship between the teacher and student, academic performance will suffer (Lee, 2012). Rita Pierson put it best when she said, “kids don’t learn from people they don’t like” (Pierson, 2013). Therefore, spending 3-5 days working on creating a positive classroom culture will improve learning outcomes, even if content isn’t addressed during that time. Concerning the second strategy around questioning, coaches can engage in coaching conversations with teachers where teachers are asked the following questions (Note that teachers can ask these same questions of themselves in self-reflection; although, a coaching conversation is preferred):
Choose a student you consider to be successful in some way. Tell me about her/him.
Choose a student you consider to be unsuccessful in some way. Tell me about her/him.
In thinking back on the last five days of class, what choices were students offered, whether it be about assignment choice, topic of discussion, etc.?
The last time you had to reprimand a student for their behavior, what words did you use?
The process of establishing a relationship between teacher and student is dynamic, with many elements to consider. Individuals bring their own beliefs, attitudes, expectations, and dispositions into the classroom (Hamre & Pianta 2006). If teachers and coaches model respectful interactions and high expectations, they should expect to see an increase in positive interactions among students and teachers. There are two pitfalls to avoid: (1) assuming students will know how to behave, and (2) expecting change to be quick. If positive interactions among students and teachers have not been the norm in a student’s life, it will take time for them to see the benefits in changing ingrained behaviors. But with trust-based, positive, teacher-student relationships, we can convince students that the payoffs in terms of the culture they inhabit every day, their own success, and everyone's increased well-being are worth it.
Hamre, B. K., & Pianta, R. C. (2001). Early teacher–child relationships and the trajectory of children's school outcomes through eighth grade. Child development, 72(2), 625-638.
Hamre, B. K., & Pianta, R. C. (2006). Student-Teacher Relationships.
Lee, J. S. (2012). The effects of the teacher–student relationship and academic press on student engagement and academic performance. International Journal of Educational Research, 53, 330-340.
McGrath, K. F., & Van Bergen, P. (2015). Who, when, why and to what end? Students at risk of negative student–teacher relationships and their outcomes. Educational Research Review, 14, 1-17.
Pierson, R. (2013, May). Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/rita_pierson_every_kid_needs_a_champion
Spilt, J. L., Koomen, H. M., & Thijs, J. T. (2011). Teacher wellbeing: The importance of teacher–student relationships. Educational Psychology Review,23(4), 457-477. doi:10.1007/s10648-011-9170-y
Thapa, A., Cohen, J., Guffey, S., & Higgins-D’Alessandro, A. (2013). A review of school climate research. Review of Educational Research, 83(3), 357-385.
Urdan, T., & Schoenfelder, E. (2006). Classroom effects on student motivation: Goal structures, social relationships, and competence beliefs. Journal of School Psychology,44(5), 331-349. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2006.04.003
Wong, H. K., Wong, R. T., & Seroyer, C. (1998). The first days of school: How to be an effective teacher. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications.
Teacher Spotlight: New Fire Academy Chief Trains Next Generation of Firefighters
Joel Davis is a first year Lateral Entry teacher CTE at Graham High School in the Alamance-Burlington School System. In the newly established Fire Academy, Mr. Davis teaches students who wish to pursue a career as a fire fighter. I recently sat down with Mr. Davis to discuss his first-year experience. (Mr. Davis’ fire safety class was a recently featured on MyFox8.com and in the Burlington Times-News. Click on the links to view and read more about Mr. Davis and his students.)
Mark: What did you do before you became a teacher?
Joel: I started out working at a volunteer fire department as a full-time paid fireman. After being there for a year and a half, I got hired on by the City of Burlington. Altogether, I’ve had 18 years of experience in the Fire Emergency Services field.
Mark: How do you use that experience in the classroom?
Joel: With state certification there are certain things that have to be taught. But I feel with my experience I can bring that real-life, real-world experience to what the students are learning in the classroom, not just to say, “look at these slides, look at these chapters in the book, this is how you do it step-by-step.” Instead of just saying, “This is how you do it,” that real-world experience gives me a chance to tell them why we do it that way.
Mark: One thing I thought of when I observed your fire safety class when they were outside practicing a skill is that it is very hands-on.
Joel: There’s a lot of hands-on activity, which makes it better than sitting in the classroom all period just looking at slide after slide and listening to me talk the entire time. The students can actually see what they’re learning in the classroom and can apply it to those skills and any kind of activity we do outside the classroom.
Mark: What would you say is one of your most rewarding experiences during your first semester of teaching?
Joel: It’s rewarding to be able to see a new program like this and see, I guess from a school aspect, how well it’s being accepted, how well the administration is behind it. That’s rewarding in itself, to see that you’ve got that backing from the administration. I came into it with support from just about every level of the school system. So that makes it a lot easier, so that I’m not trying to figure out how I am going to do a skills test without the equipment I need. To me that’s a big thing, in addition to teaching kids that want to participate, want this to be their career and see them succeed.
I have a pretty diverse classroom, but they’re all working together as a team. Because, in the fire service working together as a team is imperative. That’s how you stay safe, that’s how you get the job done. And, plus, [as a fire fighter] you’re around these people 24 hours a day, two or three days a week. So, you’ve got to be able to get along and work together. I’ve had differences in the classroom between some of the students, but out there when they’re doing their skills they still come together as a team. They work together; they cheer each other on. We had an incident out there the other day working with the ladders. One student kind of froze going up the ladder. He got about half way up and said, “I can’t do it,” and started to go back down. But everybody else on the ground started cheering him on and he finally made it up. That may seem insignificant to other people looking in, but from the aspect of the fire service, that says a whole a lot.
Mark: You mentioned that there are a lot of layers of support in the school system. How would you say the NC New Teacher Support Program fits in with that?
Joel: You all come into the classroom and say, “Do you need help? If you do, try these things.” To me, as a new teacher coming from the workforce directly into the classroom, with two weeks to prepare for classes, I’m sure I’m not utilizing all of the tools I’ve been presented, but I’ve got them there for me when I need them. I’m pretty good with the plans I have to cover through the state. Trying to mold them to fit the classroom, that’s where you guys come in. You help take what I have to teach and fit it into the high school setting, which helps out a whole lot. I like how you come in once a week and just say, “Anything you need?” Busy as all the teachers are there might be something we need and I’ll say, “I’ll email Mark or I’ll give him a call,” and it gets just kind of pushed off to the side and I forget to do it. And then when you stop in I say, “Oh, I do have a question for you.” That kind of helps.
Mark: So, I asked you about something that is rewarding. Is there something that has been challenging for you that sort of bubbles up to the top?
Joel: Coming directly from the workforce to a high school setting. I did teach some in the community college setting but this is completely different. Because you can’t deal with adults the same way you do with kids. In the community college setting, most of them are paying to take the class. They’re paying to learn this. In the school setting it’s kind of a delicate balancing act. I just know with the rigors of the job, if I see something that’s not going right, I have to correct it, but I’ve got to correct it in the appropriate way in dealing with the individual student. It’s really been difficult to learn that balancing act. So, finding a happy medium has been a little challenging. In the fire service, we know you’re hired to do a job and if you’re not performing or you’re not meeting the requirements . . .
When I was in an officer position it was my job to make sure they did whatever it took, however I had to do it. And, you know, that’s what they were getting paid to do. In this setting, I still have high expectations in the class, but it’s not quite the same as somebody that’s doing it for a career, or if somebody’s life is on the line. It changes things even more.
Mark: During my weekly visits, we’ve talked about how you want to set up your groups for next semester. Can you briefly describe your idea for that?
Joel: What I want to try to do is to delegate some more responsibility to those that are really getting the concept of what the career of a fire fighter is. And those that earn it need to have some roles of leadership within the classroom. So, I’ve decided to break it down into four different groups and we’re going to call each group a fire station. Each station will have their own leader, their own officer, so if they have a problem I want to go to that officer of that group or that station and try to get that situation taken care of. And, likewise, if somebody in that group has a problem they will go to their officer and then they’ll come to me if they can’t resolve it amongst themselves.
That will also help when we do skills. I can make sure that officer is proficient with that skill. That way he can take his group and they can go practice that skill. That will give me a little more flexibility to work with those that aren’t quite as proficient, to get them up to speed a little faster. And then the ones that are more proficient should be able to teach those who aren’t. Sometimes you can learn better from a peer than you can from a teacher. As long as they’re doing it correctly and doing it safely and are learning and being proficient at it that’s a win-win situation for everybody.
Mark: I love your thought about having the leader teach so that it frees the teacher up to circulate more and focus on the students who need extra help. That’s a great idea.
Joel: Some of these modules have 19 skills. This past semester I struggled to get through all of those. Because trying to teach 19 skills to 19 students is almost impossible. We managed, but this way we can break it up into a circuit. One group does one thing until they’re good at it, one gets their own skill until they’re proficient, then they rotate to another one. That way I can monitor what they’re doing. And make sure they’re doing it right.
One of the aspects we teach is called the “span of control,” which is the number of people a supervisor can effectively manage. Typically, they say that’s anywhere from three to seven. So, instead of being this big spread out organization, if I have four people that are qualified, I’ve got four people that I supervise or manage and then those manage three or four. So it narrows that span of control.
Mark: Yeah, and you’re teaching that concept to the students.
Joel: In our orientation to a fire and safety program we talk about the organization itself and we talk about span of control, we talk about chain of command, we talk about direct supervision and functional supervision, things like that. And those are concepts we use every day in the fire service. So, I figured it was a good way to instill that concept now, so that it won’t be foreign to them when they become fire fighters.