NC NTSP Connect: November 2015 Newsletter


Spotlight: NC NTSP 2015 Fall Institute East

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night… nor Hurricane Joaquin could keep the Instructional Coaches and beginning teachers of the NC NTSP from their 2015 Fall Institute.  Approximately seventy-five beginning teachers gathered the first weekend of October from districts in the ECU, NC State and UNC Regions at the James B. Hunt Library on NC State’s Centennial Campus for the Fall Institute. They came for the opportunity to connect with colleagues and coaches, and learn from professional development sessions specifically geared to their needs as first year teachers. 

Each session was designed and facilitated by an expert team of NC NTSP Instructional Coaches with the specific needs of beginning teachers in mind.  Despite the blustery, rainy weather, spirits were not dampened as the teachers engaged in session topics such as Facilitating Learning Through Mind and BodyCreating An Environment that Engages, Affirms and Excites All LearnersConnecting Learning to the Real World. 

Teachers also attended sessions that addressed questions and concerns within their individual content areas. One of the highlights of the conference was the lunch panel on Saturday. Institute participants heard important insights from NC NTSP alumni as well as some of the current 2nd and 3rd year teachers about how being a part of the NC NTSP has contributed to their success in the classroom. The final day of Institute got off to an energetic start with Jami Dickerson, Northeast North Carolina Regional Teacher of the Year and 3rd Grade Teacher at Eastern Elementary in Pitt County Schools. Jami’s presentation got everyone up and moving as she shared with us some dynamic strategies for engaging students with both mind and body in order to strengthen their learning and achievement. Participants left on Sunday recharged and ready to return to their classrooms on Monday with new attitudes, ideas, and research-based instructional strategies that will impact their students’ learning. They also left knowing that the NC NTSP will be there to support them in their efforts all year long.  


The Instructional Coach and Teacher Relationship

by Tierney Fairchild, WCU Region

What is Mentoring? "Mentoring is a collaborative relationship, that provides support and dialogue on authentic issues, and provides opportunities for sharing. It is a creative method of promoting professional development that sets in motion the process of self-actualization and growth." (Talley & Henry, 2008)

Instructional Coaches in the NC NTSP were recently asked the following questions: 

“What is the greatest need of the teachers you mentor?”

“How does your coaching most benefit the teachers you serve?”

Teacher Needs:


Assistance with day-to-day routines

Strategies for behavior management

Strategies for time management

Strategies for differentiation

Variety of instructional strategies

Synthesizing of curriculum

Time to plan


Strategies for classroom management


Benefits of Coaching





Suggestions with follow up

Unbiased opinion




Time saving strategies to manage workflow

Differentiation strategies



Immediate feedback


Non-evaluative sounding board

Safe resource for instructional feed

Personal attention

Expertise of experienced educator

Provide instructional strategies

Safe haven

Trustworthy listener

Provide strategies for classroom management



NC NTSP Asks: Joshua Gaskill, Southeast Region Teacher of the Year (Pamlico County Schools, 2014-2015)

Joshua is a sixth-year teacher and a Graduate of ECU ('10) with a Master of Arts in Teaching (History) and an Undergraduate of  NCSU ('08) with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Sciences. 

1. What intrinsic motivational factors influenced your decision to become a teacher?

I have always had a passion for helping others and for the content that I teach. Teaching has allowed me to do what I love. Every day in my classroom is a new opportunity to engage and excite my students about learning history!

2. Please share your journey thus far relative to being nominated as Southeast Regional Teacher of the Year (TOY).

My journey began at the school level, being recognized by my colleagues. I was honored just simply knowing that my fellow teachers thought that much about me! From there, I was awarded the district and then the regional title. Throughout the whole process, I have met so many incredible educators and have been able to share a message of inspiration regarding the teaching profession.

3. How has your recognition as TOY impacted your teaching capacity?

Being the TOY has allowed me to see different facets of education. I am currently using my “teacher voice” in regards to policy-making as well as making impacts in my district’s beginning teacher program.

4. In recognition of attending the Ron Clark motivational presentation October 26th, what are some of the ideas and thoughts you will advocate as you travel North Carolina and utilize in your classroom?

I place much value on building relationships with my students, which is something Ron Clark embodies in his teaching practices. I attribute my success in the classroom to my ability to connect with my students, investing time in their interests, and understanding their strengths. A truly effective teacher takes the time to build relationships with students.

5.     Please share a few of your best practices utilized in the classroom to support Beginning Teachers.

I strongly believe in organized and effective lesson planning.  I always have an agenda visible and present for every class.  Students appreciate knowing what to expect each day.  I always have some type of bell ringer and exit ticket.  I believe in empowering students to think and use their creativity in my classes so that they take ownership in their work.  


NC NTSP Coach Profile: Kathy Fields, UNC Region

Kathy Fields is an Instructional Coach for the University of North Carolina (UNC) Region of the North Carolina New Teacher Support Program (NC NTSP). Kathy serves teachers in Warren County, Exploris Charter School, as well as teachers in the NC INSPIRE Program in Durham and Granville Counties.

Over the course of her teaching career, Kathy taught Kindergarten in both Wake and Durham Counties, served as a Mentor to beginning teachers, and as a Cooperating Teacher for teachers at UNC-CH, NCCU and NC State Universities. Kathy loves working with new teachers and appreciates the dedication and innovation that they bring to the schools in which they teach.

While she is certified Birth-6th grade, and enjoys working with teachers from Preschool to High School, Kathy is extraordinarily passionate about the importance of high-quality early childhood education.  Her educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree in English, a Birth through Kindergarten add-on licensure and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Family Support, all from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her work completing these degrees has contributed towards her belief that an early and strong educational foundation is an important component of a child’s learning experience.

When she isn’t working, you can find Kathy cheering loudly for the North Carolina Tarheels alongside of her husband, Mike, and their two sons, Owen (4) and Grayson (1) at their home in Durham, North Carolina.



Research Spotlight: Convincing Students (and Teachers) That They Can

by Tiffani Ramos, NC NTSP Instructional Coach, UNCG Region

Often students and teachers suffer from a lack of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is defined in Bandura’s social-cognitive theory of motivation as a belief about one’s competence on a prospective task (Bandura, 1986). This belief is a perception of one’s ability, which may or may not be accurate. It does, however, have a strong influence on motivation. Individuals who feel that they are not capable of completing a task successfully will often avoid the task completely rather than risk failure. Our words can have a deep and profound impact on students’ and teachers’ feelings of self-efficacy.

A recent study by Patrick McCabe offers some suggestions of exemplary phrases teachers can use, consistent with Bandura’s framework, which may have the potential to convince students of their ability to successfully learn something new (McCabe, 2006).

Here are some examples from the article:

1. Enactive mastery- These phrases identify a specific accomplishment and make the learner aware of his/her success by drawing attention to the accomplishment.

“You were able to sound out all of the parts of that word.”

“You got all the sounds in that word correct.”

“You have the skill/ability to solve two-digit multiplication problems.”

2. Vicarious experiences- Observations and/or comparison to the actions/skills of another.

“Watch me as I break this word into smaller chunks that I know. You can also do this, just as I did.”

“Notice how Samantha is combining like terms in this equation. You have the ability to do this, just as Samantha has.”

3. Verbal persuasion- These should convince a learner that success can be achieved through sustained effort.

“You were able to chunk that word into parts because you remembered the patterns you’ve studied.”

“As a result of studying the formula, you were able to solve the equation.”

4. Physiological/Affective State- Direct learner’s attention to his/her physiological or affective state, to help him/her recognize this feedback as more information about his/her ability to learn.

“You must feel great that you solved that two-step equation just now.”

“Did you realize that you were smiling to yourself as you chunked that word and figured it out?”

“How did it make you feel when you were able to figure that out?”

(McCabe, 2006, p. 255-256)

As McCabe states, “…teachers should provide [students] with positive, informative, credible feedback about their ability to learn” (McCabe, 2006, p. 257). Improved self-efficacy generally takes time and is likely to occur gradually, especially when a learner has a difficult history of failure and/or frustration in school.

Likewise, our words can have a profound effect on teachers’ sense of self-efficacy. When working with struggling teachers, coaches and supervisors can apply the same strategies identified by McCabe. For example, a coach might say to a teacher, “As a result of applying that new classroom management strategy, your discipline referrals are down this week!” or “How did you feel when that student was able to answer a higher-order question?”


McCabe, P. 2006. Convincing students they can learn to read: crafting self-efficacy prompts, The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 79(6): 252-257

Bandura, A. 1986. Social foundations of thought and action. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. 



School Profile: Albemarle Road Middle School, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Middle school can be a challenging time for many students. Minds are developing. Emotions are high. Identities are being created and tested. Being part of a community and feeling a sense of belonging can make all the difference in the world when it comes to academic and social success. The Albemarle Road Middle School faculty and staff members, led by Principal Toni Perry, are making intentional choices to create an environment where students feel supported and can thrive.

The teachers at Albemarle Road Middle truly know their students. They take the time to talk to students about their lives as well as content. They contact parents regularly to update them or to brainstorm with them. Teachers choose content that students can connect to or analyze.  All of these foster opportunities to understand and build relationships between teachers and students.

In addition, they implement positive reinforcement techniques to applaud student work and behavior. Tickets that can be used in classroom “stores” are given out for focus, participation, and other scholarly actions. Shout outs that applaud academic and social behaviors are given out by teachers and other students. Students feel acknowledge and valued.

            Albemarle Road Middle School goes above and beyond outside of the classroom as well to build a strong community. Teachers began a student government this year in order to give students the opportunity to elect student leaders. Members of the community happily attended the Fall Festival where teachers and staff organized the festivities and volunteered to partake in the games, food, and haunted library. A Lip Sync Battle was held to show off talents and for a good cause. Team shirts are worn to “team up against drugs.” Students know they are part of a community that encourages fun while learning.  It is a pleasure to visit Albemarle Road Middle School and see the positive community in action.