NC NTSP Connect: October 2015 Newsletter

 

 

Dear Colleagues,

It is my honor to join the North Carolina New Teacher Support Program!  I am impressed with the overwhelming evidence you have already demonstrated through strong partnerships and research-based practices that positively influence teacher retention.  Through individualized induction support, universities and school districts work in tandem to ensure that beginning teachers rapidly progress along the effectiveness continuum.  Making a significant impact on student learning is possible for the teachers in our program, because of the professional development and instructional coaching woven deeply within our model.

I am thrilled to bring my teaching, coaching, and leadership experiences from Florida to North Carolina and humbled to have been invited to join you in your work.  I am eager to listen as you reflect on the successes you have experienced and how we can attain additional successes in the future.

If I can assist you in any way, please feel free to reach me at 919-962-5417 (office) or at 321-246-4006 (cell).

Warm Regards,

Bryan S. Zugelder, Ed.D.

Program Director

 

Opportunity for Teachers: The PRISM AWARD - Request for Proposals

Promoting Innovation in Science and Mathematics
Deadline:  December 7, 2015
Supports teachers in their efforts to promote excitement for science and mathematics in the classroom.

• Open to all public K-12 North Carolina teachers.
• Provides up to $3000 to cover the cost of equipment, materials, and supplies to implement hands-on science and mathematics curriculum in the classroom.
• Provides up to an additional $1500 for training and professional development related to the implementation of the new materials.

See details and requirements at The PRISM Award.

Thank you.

Melanie Scott
Senior Program Associate
Burroughs Wellcome Fund
mscott@bwfund.org

 

 

 

 

Teacher Identity and The Teaching Journey

Melissa M. Sykes and Amy Fitchett – UNCC

As the dust settles from the whirlwind that is known as the beginning of the school year, new teachers begin to adjust to their roles and routines as educators. Full of excitement and good intentions, the beginning of the school year also marks the beginning of a steep learning curve and personal journey for the new teacher that will ultimately result in the creation of a classroom identity and hopefully encourage professional reflection and growth. According to Moir (2011), the attitudinal phases of beginning teachers are cyclical and tied to specific stages that are part of the growth process. These phases of first-year teachers’ attitudes towards teaching can become more or less intense as the teacher experiences successes or failures, and teachers can even become “stuck” in a stage, which can inhibit professional growth. As teachers move through these phases, their teacher identity also emerges and can shape the trajectory of their career path and determine who they become as an educator within the profession.

Initially, teachers begin in the Anticipation Phase, where feelings of excitement and anxiousness are intertwined with a teacher’s tremendous commitment to making a difference. This romanticized period, while full of promise, is many times based more in a teacher’s theory of what a teacher and classroom “should” be versus the realities of the teaching day. Between September and October, teachers begin to enter the Survival Phase. This stage can be overwhelming as teachers get bombarded with teaching duties, classroom management issues, and lesson planning and grading. A reality check on many levels, in this stage teachers struggle to keep above water and are consumed with day-to-day tasks. A result of the Survival Phase, the Disillusionment Phase occurring between November and January is the most difficult and critical time for new teachers, as self doubt and the realization of the extensive time commitment required for success in the profession begins to erode a teacher’s self esteem and morale.

Following the Disillusionment Phase, teachers experience Rejuvenation between February and March. Usually coinciding with winter break on most school calendars, this phase is marked by a slow rise in attitude toward teaching and most likely is a result from teachers having had some rest during school vacations. The time away to step back and reflect on the big picture and long term curriculum and instructional goals allows teachers to gain a sense of relief during this period that carries them through to the Reflection Phase. Invigorated and feeling pride, teachers in the Reflection phase not only begin thinking about what and how to revise for their next school year, but also focus on the accomplishments of the school year and student successes. The final phase, Anticipation, occurring between June and August, carries teachers into the next school year and marks the beginning of the cyclical cycle once again.

Connected to this emotional journey is the discovery of a teacher’s professional identity and self within the classroom. According to Rogers and Scott (2012), the attitudinal phases of beginning teachers can be directly linked to a teacher’s focus on self, focus on curriculum, and focus on student success. As a result, the discovery of one’s teaching identity is complex, dependent on multiple contexts, and formed via social, cultural, and historical forces. It is based on interactions within relationships with others and involves emotion. Shifting, unstable, and layered, uncovering the “teaching self” involves construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction of meaning through experience. It can also be a source of anxiety and difficulty for many struggling new teachers who are still learning the ins-and-outs of how to function within their classroom, school, and community.

            Ultimately, the goal of all new teachers is to achieve success during their first years within the profession and to encourage student achievement. The journey may be long and difficult but extremely rewarding when on-going reflection results in progress. Research shows that how a teacher was taught in the past directly influences their future teaching persona; teachers are most likely to mimic the instructional methods and styles that they have been exposed to. One way to enhance and assimilate to this process is to engage in on-going reflection on the power of teacher identity and how it changes depending on a teacher’s attitude or position within the school year. Some questions that new teachers can ask themselves when attempting to move forward through their journey include: What does teacher identity mean to me, my students, and my classroom? What do I do with my understanding of who I am or will become as a teacher? How can I survive the phases of the first year? 

 

 

 

NC NTSP Asks: Patrick Hosey, Principal at Graham Middle School in the Alamance Burlington School System

Q: What are the biggest needs of the beginning teacher?

A: I believe that for some teachers who haven’t gone through student teaching, as they first step into a classroom as a lateral entry teacher, I think it’s kind of a shock. I think the biggest need is for the new teacher to understand the complexity of the classroom, your presence, what do you do, it’s the managerial piece. It’s not just correcting bad behavior, or off the topic behavior, but just how you address students and how you deal with parents. It’s the nuances that are really hard to get across. I think it’s really hard to do as a student teacher too. When you’re the classroom teacher yourself, it’s yours. And I think how to navigate all of that is the most challenging part for new teachers.

Q: How do you see the NC New Teacher Support Program fitting in to address that need?

A: Doing what you’re doing as a sounding board, as wisdom of best practices, or as steps to take when you see a need. I think the sounding board aspect is what draws me to it the most. Because they have mentors assigned at the school, but sometimes they may not want to come to a mentor or may not see a mentor. To me, it’s important to have that relationship piece that they can really trust your position. So that they can tell you guys, "I need help in this." Or ask, "What do you think about that?" In their minds they see how it’s going to work, and when they get in there it’s nothing like that.

Q: What advice would you give beginning teachers on making the most out of their partnership with their NC NTSP coach?

A: They should utilize you guys for what you know. Don’t be afraid to ask. Be open to suggestions. Know that coaches are there as support. When I was a first-year teacher, I wished I had somebody like you all. I had a mentor two doors down from me who I’d see every few weeks, who had a piece of paper I had to sign. That was my mentorship. I was lateral entry teacher and my first time in my classroom was my first time in the class. I went from college to teaching ninth and tenth grade history. I’d go in there and I wondered what in the world lesson plans were. Talking to kids and talking to adults isn’t the same thing. I thought the students were all miniature adults. It’s important to have a sounding board to say, "What do you think about this?" You offer a safe setting that is helpful. New teachers often model what they grew up with seeing from their own teachers. But, when they get in the real classroom it’s different than it was ten years ago, and if you add a different culture to it, it’s tough. 

 

 

 

NC NTSP Coach Profile: Michelle Casey, ECU Region

Michelle Casey is an Instructional Coach with the NC New Teacher Support Program, serving with the East Carolina University (ECU) Region.  Michelle earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in special education from ECU, and considers it an honor to represent such an exemplary university in the teacher education division through the NC New Teacher Support Program.  Michelle also attended Campbell University, attaining administration education and served as an administrator in Johnston County Schools. 

Her current work is focused in the Lenoir County Public School district, with a concentration in middle and high schools. She has 24 years of experience at elementary and middle school levels, serving as an exceptional children’s teacher and administrator.  Michelle is a currently pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership from Liberty University. Her goal is to defend and graduate in 2016.  Michelle’s dissertation research focuses on sustaining novice teachers who teach in high-need educational communities beyond the first five years of teaching in the southeastern region of North Carolina. This focus transpired from serving as an Instructional Coach in high-need educational communities and witnessing the dedication of teachers to sustain their career.  She is honored to serve novice teachers in the NC NTSP. 

Michelle is married to a wonderful man of 12 ½ years, a step-mom of three, and a grandmother of one and soon-to-be second granddaughter. In her leisure time, she and her husband love to travel, camp, and enjoy classical movies. Likewise, Michelle enjoys restoring historical treasures and accessories such as distressing and antiquing furniture. 

 

 

 

 

Self Care Tips for First Year Teachers: A Day in the Life of a Beginning Teacher.

by Tierney Fairchild, NC NTSP Instructional Coach, WCU Region

Follow the day of imaginary teacher Brad.  Brad is a History teacher and an assistant football coach.

6:00 am:  Starbucks drive thru                   

A teacher’s day starts early and ends late.  Fueled by caffeine, Brad arrives at school early to prepare for the day.  Preparedness is key to avoiding burnout.  Although it isn’t always possible, Brad works hard to stay ahead of planning and grading. 

7:00 am:  Staff meeting

At the beginning of the year, Brad felt unsure about contributing to staff meeting discussions.  He feared his ideas would be dismissed by veteran teachers.  He shared this concern with his support coach who encouraged him to speak up, assuring him that veteran teachers were eager to hear his ideas that reflect new strategies and pedagogy he had recently learned in college. Although still nervous about speaking up, Brad is now a regular contributor to staff discussions.

9:33 - 10:52 am:  Honors World History  

Brad is thrilled to be teaching an honors class, but struggles with the World History Content.  He relies heavily on his PLC for lesson plans, activities, and assessments.  “Collaboration provides a mechanism for sharing responsibility and student learning and a way to work together for a common purpose. “ (Froschauer, Bigelow, 2012)  Brad depends upon the weekly collaboration and the opportunity to share and get feedback on his own ideas.

10:55 - 11:35 am:  Lunch Duty    

Brad enjoys lunch duty.  He looks forward to this break from teaching when he can talk with other adults and prepare himself mentally for the remainder of the day.  “Starting at a new school where you do not know your colleagues can be a daunting time.  In fact, research shows that many beginning teachers report feelings of overwhelming isolation.” (Thomas, 1998).  Forging relationships with colleagues is important.  Brad is developing friendships with other teachers and is becoming a part of the school community.

11:35 am - 1:00 pm:  American History   

This is Brad’s favorite class of the day.  He makes changes in his American History lesson plan based on what worked and didn’t work in first period. 

1:05 - 2:30 pm:  Planning              

Brad needs to utilize his planning time effectively because of after school commitments, but Mr. McCloud from across the hall pops in every day to talk about his son’s rec league football team and stays until planning time is almost over.  Brad doesn’t want to seem aloof, but desperately needs to spend this time working.  He is afraid if he mentions this problem to his mentor, Mr. McCloud will find out about it and their relationship will be harmed.  He talks to his support coach who provides strategies to regain his planning time.  Now Brad stops by Mr. McCloud’s room at the beginning of planning and says a quick “hello”.  Then, he goes to his classroom and closes the door so he can work without being interrupted. 

2:35 - 3:00 pm:  Parking lot duty               

Brad uses this time to get to know students who aren’t in his class or on the football team. 

3:00 - 5:30 pm: Football practice               

Brad enjoys this time with the team. 

5:30 - 6:30 pm:  Meeting with coaches   

Although this meeting means he has a long day at school, he enjoys the time with fellow coaches.

6:30 - 7:00 pm:  Dinner at home

Pizza delivery

7:00 - 10:00 pm:  Lesson plans and grading

Brad works tirelessly every night, creating engaging plans for his students.  While he works, he constantly gets emails and messages from his students with questions about homework and grades.  Brad knows he needs to set boundaries. “As technology allows the lines between work and home to blur, many feel on-call all the time, with no opportunity for respite. (Alina Tugend, 2013) Brad has decided to create a policy that he will answer no student emails or messages after 8:00 p.m.

10:00 pm - 12:00 am:  Netflix      

Brad decompresses by catching up on favorite television shows on Netflix.  He has learned that allowing himself time to do something besides work related to school makes him a better teacher in the long run.  “Place great value on your personal time.  Working long hours each day is a sure path to burnout.  Take time to just be yourself.”  (Thompson, 2013)

12:00 am:  Bedtime!       

Getting enough rest is essential to effective teaching.  Brad learned the hard way by pulling all-nighters early in the school year. He is learning he needs to take care of himself so he can take care of his students.   When flying on an airplane, the flight attendants tell passengers to put their own oxygen mask on before putting one on their children.  We are of no use to anyone if we don’t take care of ourselves.  (Faleki, 2015)  Brad is adjusting well to the transition from college student to full time professional and has learned that by prioritizing, he is able to preserve rest and personal time.

References:

“Self Care Tips for Teachers”, Daniella Faleki, February 3, 2015

“How Self-Compassion Can Help Prevent Teacher Burnout”, Vicki Zakrzewski, September 11, 2012

“Dealing With Burnout, Which Doesn’t Always Stem From Overwork”, New York Times, Alina Tugend, 2013

 “In the Company of Colleagues: An Interim Report of the Development of a Community of Teacher Learners’, Teaching and Teacher Education, vol.14, no.1,

Thomas, G, Windburg, S, Grossman, P, Myhre, O & Woolworth, S 1998,

“The First-Year Teacher's Survival Guide: Ready-to-Use Strategies, Tools and Activities for Meeting the Challenges of Each School Day”, Julia G. Thompson, 2013

“Rise and Shine:  A Practical Guide for the Beginning Science Teacher”,  Linda Froschauer and Mary Bigelow, May 5, 2012

 

 

 

 

Teacher Profile: David Lasky, Exceptional Children’s Teacher, Chaloner Middle School, Roanoke Rapids Graded School District

David Lasky is a first-year teacher in Roanoke Rapids Graded School District.  He works with exceptional children, focusing on language arts.  We talked with him on a recent evening about his experiences as a new teacher so far this year.

Asked why he wanted to teach, Mr. Lasky replied, “I have always enjoyed trying to help others and have really found myself trying to teach something to someone.”  He stressed that there were really three motivating factors for him to become a teacher:  education is important to him, he really enjoys sharing knowledge, and he has a passion for working with children. 

His passion for working with children was evident as he reflected on his greatest successes so far this school year.  “Motivating students to attempt challenges and overcome barriers which in the past they haven’t, and then hearing parents echoing that [as they are] seeing it at home.  For example, children who previously wouldn’t speak out or participate in a discussion who will now, or struggled to focus being engaged now.”  Parents are telling him things like “Wow, I have really seen a change in [my child] this year.  They’re doing things they’ve never done before.”  Given that Mr. Lasky works with exceptional children, he finds his successes in helping students find their voices particularly rewarding.

Like many new teachers, Mr. Lasky identified the overwhelming influx of new responsibilities as one of his greatest challenges.    “It has been challenging at times to keep up with all that I am required to do and still keep my mind open enough take on to what is offered from a variety of sources.  How to prepare instruction, to use the records software, to fulfill the BT requirements, have meetings, attend conferences, increase familiarity with curriculum… it got to a point that it was difficult to take in more input. – just balancing creativity with absorption of so much new information.  But I’m getting my groove and feeling more at ease.” 

The North Carolina New Teacher Support Program’s greatest help has been, according to Mr. Lasky, “[b]eyond a shadow of a doubt, my Instructional Coach, with the quality of the assistance he gives me and I know is able to give me.  He’s helped me plan a lesson, put me in touch with the NC TEACH program, and he’s been there for encouragement and support.   I gain from my time with him.  He has been extremely accessible and beneficial to me in general.”

It is the privilege of the NC NTSP to support Mr. Lasky, and all of those teachers who, like him, provide such excellent support to our students.