Sutcher, Darling-Hammond, and Carver-Thomas (2016) released a report this week on addressing our nation’s teacher shortage and provided important recommendations surrounding teacher retention that reminds me of the innovative and collaborative work we are doing together in North Carolina. One critical recommendation from the report that stood out for me is the need for improved mentoring and induction for teachers, while providing opportunities for collaboration and professional development.
Our outstanding Instructional Coaches repeatedly demonstrate commitment to supporting beginning teachers during their first three years of teaching. Every day, our Instructional Coaches support beginning teachers directly in classrooms by observing and providing meaningful feedback, co-teaching, modeling lessons, collaboratively planning, providing resources, and helping to examine the impact instruction has on student learning. Last year, our Instructional Coaches provided more than 20,000 instructional visits and spent nearly 14,000 hours in schools across North Carolina to enhance mentoring and induction for the teachers they serve. They also provided 69 engaging and interactive professional development sessions on teacher workdays, early release days, and after school. They created exciting, supplemental and interactive virtual support through online collaboration as an added service, giving teachers more opportunities to improve their craft.
Our Fall Institute is just around the corner and another example of enhanced professional development for beginning teachers. Next Friday, September 23, we will launch our annual Institute “boot camp” for participating first year beginning and lateral entry teachers, hosted at UNC Charlotte. Institute is scheduled September 23-25 at UNC Charlotte and September 30-October 2 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Raleigh-Cary. Beginning teachers will learn from our expert Instructional Coaches and collaborate with each other to delve into the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards. Teachers will plan together with other teachers in similar content areas and participate in interactive sessions learning strategies they can implement in their own classrooms immediately. They will also hear from the North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Bobbie J. Cavnar. There is still time to register. Participating BT1s may click here to register today for the Institute most convenient for them. Institutes are highly regarded by beginning teachers, as they provide opportunities to learn, collaborate, and interact with teachers from all over the state.
The ongoing, collaborative work across our regional UNC system institutions and throughout our partnership school districts is a strong example of innovative efforts focused on teacher retention. It is evident that our commitment to providing the best support possible for beginning teachers is at the forefront of our work everyday. Our university-based induction model is grounded in research and carried out daily with intentionality. Thanks to all of you for making the NC New Teacher Support Program a true exemplar and for setting the bar high for teacher induction, mentoring, and professional development.
All the Best,
Instructional Coach Spotlight: Heather House, ECU Region
Heather House is an Instructional Coach for the East Carolina University (ECU) Region of the North Carolina New Teacher Support Program (NC NTSP). Heather serves teachers in Lenoir, Edgecombe, and Perquimans County Public Schools.
Heather began her career in education as a middle school math teacher after receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Middle Grade Education from ECU. She continued her education at ECU receiving her Master of Arts degree in Mathematics Education while teaching in Pitt County Schools (PCS). Also while teaching, Heather authored "Outthink, Outsmart, Outlearn" and co-authored "Algebraic Bosse Tiles: Activity Books 1 & 2." She also coached volleyball, basketball, and softball. After teaching 6 years, Heather was accepted into the Principal Fellows Program where she received her Master of Educational Leadership degree. Upon graduation, she served as an Assistant Principal for 5 years in PCS at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.
When Heather is not supporting beginning teachers, she dedicates her time to her family, photography, and enjoys spending time at the beach.
Recent Event Spotlight: WCU
Two NC NTSP Coaches Develop and Coordinate the College of Education and Allied Professions Beginning Teacher Symposium
The College of Education and Allied Professions (CEAP) at Western Carolina University has been partnering with Region 8 public school districts to provide an engaging and effective beginning teacher support program since 2007. In 2015, the CEAP enthusiastically partnered with the NC New Teacher Support Program to expand its support of beginning teachers in a more deliberate and intensive manner. The partnership has allowed the CEAP to extend services that are even more impactful on teacher induction, teacher retention, and student achievement.
Each year the CEAP hosts a two-day Beginning Teacher Symposium in August for new teachers from Jackson County Schools, Haywood County Schools, Macon County Schools, and Swain County Schools (consistently), in addition to Cherokee County Schools, Graham County Schools, and Clay County Schools when they have new beginning teachers. During summer 2016, the two WCU Region instructional coaches, Tierney Fairchild and Jennifer Beck, assumed the lead in developing and coordinating all components of the Symposium. This summer’s theme was Roads to Success: Navigating the Twists and Turns of the First Year of Teaching.
Tierney and Jennifer developed the theme, program agenda, and secured session facilitators including the keynote speakers for the event. The agenda consisted of content specific and grade level specific topics. Ultimately, Tierney and Jennifer developed three schedules that operated concurrently. The organization of the event was a tremendous endeavor with a lot of moving parts from planning to contract administration and registration.
Forty-four vibrant and enthusiastic beginning teachers attended the Symposium. The session topics included literacy, teaching to the standards, inclusion, differentiation in the classroom, classroom management, mental health issues of children and adolescents, diversity in the classroom, building relationships with parents, assessment, transforming your classroom through relationships, and making the communication connection. Approximately 65% percent of beginning high school teachers felt that the overall symposium enhanced their preparation for their first year of teaching. An eager 91% of beginning middle grades teachers believed that symposium enhanced their preparation for their first year of teaching. Eighty percent of beginning Pre-K and elementary teachers believed that participation in the symposium help to prepare them for their first year of teaching. Participants provided complementary such as, “overall, I learned a lot”; “great review of things we have learned in our methods classes, as well as a great wealth of resources to use in the classroom”; “I took so much from this, thank you!”; “this was very helpful for me & my anxiety about being a lateral teacher. Especially since most of the speakers all made a point to let us know not to just focus on content but on relationships and classroom management”; “enjoyed the two days, and the Western Region Teacher of the Year was wonderful. Lot of good advice for beginning teachers.”
NC NTSP Instructional Coaches, Tierney Fairchild and Jennifer Beck, laid the foundation for this great event. The evaluation results and comments of participants are evidence of their hard work with planning the agenda with outstanding, knowledgeable, and skilled session facilitators, in partnership with CEAP faculty and staff who ensured that the plans were well executed. The CEAP and NC NTSP WCU Region ROCK! WE ARE TEACHER EDUCATION AND INDUCTION!
NC NTSP Asks: Heather Bagnell, BT3 at Graham Middle School
Mrs. Bagnell is a Science Teacher in her third year at Graham Middle School. During her first year she taught both Science and Math. She recently completed her Master of Arts in Teaching at Lenoir-Rhyne University. In addition to teaching, she serves as the Assistant Softball Coach and helps lead grade-level meetings for the seventh grade. We sat down with her recently to discuss her ideas about the NC New Teacher Support Program.
In thinking about the relationship you have with the NC New Teacher Support Program, what would you say is a benefit?
Not only the academic support but the mental support that you guys provide as well, a sounding board from an outside person looking in definitely helps keep our sanity.
You mentioned academic support. Would like to elaborate?
When we have sat down and looked over the standards that I have to teach I’ve gotten, [my Instructional Coach] has given me tools that I can use that I haven’t thought of. So that’s definitely a benefit. Observations, when my Instructional Coach comes in and leaves feedback that is definitely helpful. When my coach says, “This went really well, I would try this next time, or that didn’t go as well as planned, but this went well, so let’s try this next time.” So my coach definitely [provides feedback] in a way that is helpful, constructive. And it’s never criticizing.
If you were to give a BT1 some advice on how to best utilize our services, what would you say to her or him?
Just ask for help whenever you feel overwhelmed and utilize you guys as much as possible. You know, email, when they come in, ask them questions about what they are doing and definitely ask if there’s anything they can help you with, organization, time management, all of that wonderful stuff.
If you were to characterize the NC New Teacher Support Program in a couple of words what might be those words for you?
Supportive, I have nothing but good things to say about you guys! I mean it has been such a blessing to have you guys here and it’s confidential, and that’s nice.
Research Spotlight: Motivating Students
Each school year, teachers are faced from the onset with the challenge of motivating students in the classroom. As the year progresses, the task of motivation only becomes more challenging as the everyday demands and pressures increase. It is during these times that educators hear their students utter, “Why do I need to know this or when will I ever use this?” Gayle Gregory and Martha Kaufeldt point out in their book The Motivated Brain that “In a classroom, the complex interaction of teacher, student, and curriculum helps to create motivation that yields high engagement.”
Before looking at what it takes to motivate students, it is first important to make note of the daily activities that may temper motivation. In his article “Motivating Young Adolescents,” Rick Wormeli list the following as some of the leading causes of demotivation in the classroom:
1. Being told how important today's lesson will be in future classes. (Instead, help kids live this one week of their lives powerfully.)
2. Teachers who talk the whole class period.
3. Complex assignments that you don't have the skills to complete and that have no clear evaluative criteria.
4. Being told what you're probably feeling and thinking, even if it's accurate.
5. Fs, zeroes, and other indicators of failure.
6. Spending the day working on weaknesses, without identifying and using strengths.
While there are obviously more causes for a decrease in motivation in the classroom, the above items tend to show up in daily instruction more frequently.
Although there are many demotivators, there are also several approaches that can be taken to motivate. Research shows that one such approach is to simply build a classroom environment that lends itself to motivation. Students should know each time they enter the room that they are safe to explore the topic in a way that coalesces with their learning style. With this, teachers should take into consideration that if a student seems disinterested in a task that they are not necessarily being lazy. There could be outside factors that cause this behavior such as stress from home or fear of failing in front of the class (Wormeli 2014). When it becomes noticeable that a student is uncomfortable, it is vital for the teacher to support and motivate that student to continue and insure them that their knowledge and participation are valuable.
Once students are in the classroom, it is important to remember where students are at in their education. Students walk in with a preconceived notion of what they know and what they can learn. Gregory and Kaufeldt point out that a student’s belief in their ability is built into them from the time they are born; so if a student walks in feeling like their only option is to fail, it is even more dire that the teacher goes the extra mile to motivate the student. Teachers should take into account all learning styles and developmental stages when building their curriculum. Providing opportunities for social interaction, transitioning between activities swiftly, teaching task using multiple strategies, showing enthusiasm while teaching are all means to motivate students throughout a class period (Wormeli 2014).
Nothing can crush a student’s drive to succeed quicker than poor feedback. If all feedback is simply letter based or a few basic words written in red, students will not see the importance of persevering and putting forth additional effort. Using only negative criticism demotivates a student from working towards mastery. Direct feedback that addresses the positives and the negatives is a far better alternative. Make the feedback personal and allow the student an opportunity to revise and improve their work (Wormeli 2014). A student who knows what they have done correctly and what they can improve upon far more likely to continue to engage in the classroom instead of shutting off from a lack of motivation.
Motivating students daily is vital to their continued success in the classroom. With diverse learners from different backgrounds filling classrooms, it is no easy task to accomplish this goal. There are no perfect answers to motivating students. Much like we want the students to persevere, so too must we persevere in our daily strive to motivate.
Kaufeldt, Martha, and Gayle Gregory. "Chapter 1: The Challenge of Motivating Students." The Motivated Brain. Alexandria: ASCD, 2015. N. pag. ASCD, Sept. 2015. Web. 2 Sept. 2016. <http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/115041/chapters/The-Challenge-of-....
Wormeli, Rick. "Motivating Young Adolescents." Educational LeadershipSept. 2014: 26-31. Educational Leadership: Motivation Matters:. ASCD, Sept. 2014. Web. 1 Sept. 2016. <http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept14/vol72/num....
District Spotlight: Harnett County Schools
As we begin the 2016-2017 school year we welcome the Harnett County School District to our NC NTSP family. Harnett Count Schools is located in Harnett County in the heart of the sandhills of North Carolina, a region with a rich agricultural heritage. The district welcomed nearly 19,000 students this year to its 28 elementary, middle and high schools. Harnett County Schools is a district that “promotes innovative thinking through collaboration, technology, and life experiences that produces globally competitive individuals.” It is also a district with a strong commitment to new teacher support and teacher retention.
This school year the NC State Region of the NC NTSP will support 30 beginning teachers at Overhills High School in Spring Lake. Lori Best, instructional coach for the NC State region will conduct weekly coaching service tailored to each beginning teacher’s individual needs. She will also work with the Harnett County Schools instructional coach at Overhills High School in a collaborative effort to provide professional development sessions that are grounded in research as well as offer instructional strategies that are specifically geared to the needs of beginning teachers.
Says Courtney Tompkins, Retention/Recruitment Coordinator for Harnett County Schools of this new partnership, “We hope that the NC NTSP's added support will help enhance and enrich the continued growth of these beginning teachers.”
The NC NTSP is delighted to be partnering with Harnett County Schools in our shared mission to support and retain North Carolina’s beginning teachers and help them provide the best instruction possible for their students.