Our collaborative work this year has been thrilling, encouraging for North Carolina education, and so meaningful for beginning teachers throughout our state. We are proud to have had such an amazing turnout of beginning teachers, district representatives, and community guests at our 2016 Fall Institute. Combined, we had more than 300 stakeholders, beginning teachers, and district administrators attend our Charlotte and Raleigh Institute events. One beginning teacher commented that “new teachers need extra support and everything I learned at Institute was beneficial to my growth, with the opportunity to interact with experts and other teachers."
As Institute has completed, our Instructional Coaches have been working directly with the beginning teachers they support to help them apply what they learned at Institute and how to be successful in the classroom. Our team is committed to working with school districts to provide intentional support to beginning teachers to help move along the effectiveness continuum. To do that, we have examined evidence-based practices in coaching and mentoring and are excited to bring that expertise to help teachers make a positive difference with the students they teach.
We are proud of our work with districts, beginning teachers, and university partners to make an impact on teacher retention, effectiveness, and student achievement. We look forward to sharing in conversations as we visit with you this year.
All the Best,
Instructional Coach Spotlight: Traci Bellas, UNCG Region
Traci Bellas is an Instructional Coach for the UNCG Region of the NC NTSP. Traci serves middle and high school teachers in Alamance-Burlington Schools.
Traci brings 25 years of experience in education as a special education teacher, middle and high school social studies teacher, elementary teacher and ESL specialist. Traci has also served as a lead technology teacher, new teacher mentor, and teaches classes for the UNCG Department of Teacher Education. She is passionate about education and helping other teachers hone their craft.
Her educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Mercer University, a Master’s in Elementary Education from Elon University, and a PhD in teacher Education from UNCG. Traci’s research and professional interests focus on culturally and linguistically responsive teaching and equitable educational opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds.
When she is not supporting beginning teachers, Traci commutes between her homes in NC and SC. Traci is married and has three children. When not driving between the Carolinas, Traci enjoys reading, cooking, and traveling.
Recent Event Spotlight: NC NTSP Fall Institute in Charlotte
The Bonnie E. Cone University Center at UNC Charlotte was abuzz with excitement on Friday, September 23, as first-year teachers gathered for the three-day Institute. Approximately 80 teachers from the western and central regions of North Carolina represented Alamance – Burlington, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Cherokee Central, Cleveland, Edenton-Chowan, Graham, Jackson, Lenoir, McDowell, Person, Richmond, Rockingham, Scotland, Stanly, and Union Counties.
Participants kicked off their weekend with a “trash” and “treasures” activity that encouraged them to frame their thinking for the weekend and beyond. Teachers then attended self selected sessions that were designed and facilitated by NC NTSP Instructional Coaches and aligned with the North Carolina Teaching Standards. Sessions were rich with discussion and real world applications of strategies to Establish a Respectful Environment for Your Students, Facilitate Learning, Contribute to the Success of Your Students, Demonstrate Leadership, and Share Content Knowledge with Your Students.
On Saturday, a lunchtime panel of second- and third-year teachers who are NC NTSP alumni shared their experiences and answered questions from Institute participants. A highlight of the weekend was an inspirational keynote address from Bobbie Cavnar, the North Carolina Teacher of the Year.
Coleen Hill, first-year teacher at Union Elementary said, “Thank you to all the Instructional Coaches who were at the Institute this weekend. This was by far the most beneficial and exciting instructional workshop I have ever attended. By attending this Institute I have gained some wonderful ideas and strategies on effective and exciting instruction to implement in my classroom. I am so excited to begin implementing these new strategies in my classroom on Monday.”
NC NTSP Asks: Q & A with Instructional Coaches from the NC State Region
Hurricane Matthew surprised all of us this October with a more extended visit than anticipated here in North Carolina. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who have been, and continue to be, impacted by the storm. As we experience the ongoing recovery and rebuilding efforts, the words of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross remind us that, “When we face the worst that can happen in any situation, we grow. When circumstances are at their worst, we can find our best.”
In times such as these we also reflect on what is most precious and dear to us in our lives and remind ourselves to be grateful for these gifts. Our NC State coaching team is so grateful for the opportunity to work with the teachers in our partner districts and wanted to share some of the joys we experience in our roles as Instructional Coaches for the NC NTSP. We also share our best wishes for all of the beginning teachers with whom we partner on this incredible teaching journey.
Q1: What is your greatest joy as an Instructional Coach with the NC NTSP?
LB-My greatest joy as an Instructional Coach is when I observe beginning teachers enjoying teaching and cultivating a love of learning in students.
LL-Hearing a teacher say, "thank you." It isn't because I am seeking the validation; it is because I often wonder if I said what they needed to hear or if I helped them out by providing a resource, and the "thank you" serves as feedback. It is nice to know that the teachers are getting what they need, whomever they get it from. Additionally, I cannot express how grateful I am to have supportive colleagues in my life. Sincerely, they are gems!
WW-My greatest joy as an Instructional Coach comes from the relationships I have been fortunate to establish and maintain with teachers over the years.
KM- My greatest joy has to be the relationships I have established with my beginning teachers. Just as we promote establishing relationships with our students, it is just as important for coaches to create, foster, and maintain relationships with our teachers. Genuine concern and appreciation for our teachers strengthens bonds of trust so real collaboration can occur. Active listening and a willingness to try the strategies we, as coaches, suggest are additional benefits. Most importantly, a genuine team support system is established that connects both in and out of the classroom.
Q2: If you could give one gift to your beginning teachers, what would it be?
LB-If I could give beginning teachers one gift, it would be the ability to look into the future and see the meaningful impact that they are having on students. Research shows that the teacher is the single most influential factor in student success. I would give beginning teachers the ability to see on the difficult days that what they are doing matters and makes a difference.
LL-Thirty-two hours a day ;) Perhaps more realistically, yet along those same lines, I want to grant them an additional planning period during the first year of teaching. Of course I would fill it up with coaching activities, but at least they would have it!
WW-The one gift I would give my beginning teachers is the one so many of them request: time.
KM- If I could give one gift to beginning teachers, it would be the gift of patience. We, as educators, want everything accomplished overnight. Education is a life-long journey that consists of many paths, some well-taken, and others, a mere detour. We learn and become better equipped as we travel. Patience in knowing there is a bigger picture ensures we do not give up, but persevere. We have a better understanding of not only ourselves, but our students and others. We know to dig deeper for the meaning of what we do not understand because understanding will bring wisdom. Patience encourages reflection, and reflection encourages improvement. Knowing we are patient, we appreciate moments and enjoy the ongoing journey and the process we call education.
To our districts and beginning teachers across the state, we thank you for the opportunity to partner with you!
Research Spotlight: Teacher Training, Induction, and Effectiveness
Making the connection between our work as coaches and mentors to new teachers and research is especially important considering the importance of following research-based practices and supporting new teachers most effectively. Our focus this month is on existing research from Linda Darling-Hammond, a formidable figure in the field of teacher training, induction, and effectiveness. A 2012 Educational Leadership interview with Dr. Darling-Hammond highlights several areas we think are pertinent in our work with new teachers in the field.
The interview with Linda Darling-Hammond, conducted by Marge Scherer (2012) of Educational Leadership magazine, focuses many questions on how the support of new teachers is not only needed, but essential to their effectiveness and remaining in the profession. One quote is particularly telling of this:
“It's really important for beginners to have systematic, intense mentoring in the first year. Having weekly support and in-classroom coaching in the first year for fine-tuning skills, for planning lessons, and for problem solving about things that come up in the classroom ensures that someone experienced is there during the critical moments of the beginning teacher's first year.
That is the ideal way to make sure beginning teachers don't just survive but also become competent and effective—and stay in the profession” (Scherer, 2012, p. 18)
We know that as coaches with the New Teacher Support Program, we are adhering to the principles and support structures exemplified in the above quote, which solidifies not only the importance of our work, but the value of it as well.
Another important point that Darling-Hammond (Scherer, 2012) speaks about is the presence of strategic professional development and professional learning communities, which enhance and promote research-based practices on a school-wide level, thereby creating a culture of success within the school. A particular notion that Darling-Hammond stresses is the fostering of a collaborative learning environment where teachers learn, grow, and develop together to promote student success within classrooms and across grade levels (Scherer, 2012)
In summary, reading this interview, albeit four years old, reinforced NTSP’s mission of providing high quality professional development, providing coaching and mentoring, and building skills through Institute. Our place in the development of new teachers is thoroughly supported by research and best practices, which in turn, grounds our work and ensures the districts, principals, and teachers, we work with are confident in our approach and outcomes. For the interview transcript, click here.
Scherer, M. (May, 2012). The challenges of supporting new teachers: A conversation with Linda Darling-Hammond. Educational Leadership. 69:8, p. 18-23.
District Spotlight: Perquimans County Schools
As we begin the 2016-2017 school year, the NC New Teacher Support Program is delighted to offer continued support to the Perquimans County School District. Perquimans County Schools is located in rural eastern North Carolina known to many as the Inner Banks and offers an array of outdoor activities such as fishing, crabbing, golfing, sailing, boating and canoeing. In addition to the extracurricular activities, Perquimans is only miles away from the crystal coast and historical sites. Perquimans County provides an extended family atmosphere and prides itself for its small town hospitality provided by small restaurants and business nestled in the town. This year, the district welcomed 1,721 students to four area schools. Perquimans County is delighted to equip all students in grades 3-12 with iPads with no additional cost to families. Perquimans County Schools “works with a sense of urgency for the success of all students by influencing them to make the right choices to create a lasting legacy for themselves”.
This school year the ECU Region of the NC NTSP will support 14 beginning teachers at Perquimans County Middle School in Windfall, NC and Perquimans County High School in Hertford, NC. Lakecia Brown and Heather House will conduct weekly visits to Perquimans Middle School to support and coach beginning teachers with school wide initiatives such as Case21, Istation, STEM and NC Education Cloud Project. Lakecia Brown will also support teachers at Perquimans County High School where all stakeholders work collaboratively with the College of the Albemarle to provide students with rigorous classes to gain college credits beyond the traditional classroom environment. The district has approved on campus electives such as EMT and Firefighting to allow opportunities for students to gain certification upon completion of the course. ECU Regional Coaches work collaboratively with the district to provide professional development opportunities tailored to the needs of the beginning teachers in the district. Professional development, also known as Teacher Talks in Perquimans County, provides research-based strategies to improve instructional practices in planning, engagement, and assessment. The ECU Region is proud to continue its partnership with Perquimans County Schools.