You might expect a brand new teacher might be a bit nervous anticipating that first day alone in the classroom with all those bright young faces looking for direction. Marne Talcott admitted to a few nerves about her first day as a new kindergarten teacher at Redmond Elementary School. Then, during EIA, she began the New Teacher Support Program (NTSP) along with about 90 other new teachers.
“I am impressed, surprised and grateful for the amount of support from NTSP,” Talcott said. In this recognized program, a team of consulting teachers works full time to coach and mentor brand new teachers. The consulting teachers spend time in the new teachers’ classrooms throughout that first year and provide additional coaching for a second year.
“They brought in experienced teachers who gave us so many resources, like first day activities and curriculum night ideas,” added Talcott. Since she did her student teaching in a different district, the specific curriculum is new to her. Since EIA, though, Talcott says she feels “100 percent more ready.”
It’s not just brand new teachers who benefit from EIA, which ran from August 14 through 22 and served about 110 experienced teachers new to the district. Since every district has different curricula, programs, processes and technology, EIA is a chance for every teacher new to the district to get up to speed before school starts.
Melissa Mittan, a new English and social studies teacher at Lake Washington High School, appreciated the sessions on technology during EIA. “We learned all of the technology we will be using, and a lot of those things were new,” she said. “We saw how to incorporate technology into student learning.”
EIA is also a chance to get to know the district’s values and culture. Mittan, who was a substitute teacher for four years in rural Pennsylvania, was impressed by the passion for education among district staff and her new teacher colleagues. “It’s all about student success,” she said.
Laurie Yarger, a special education teacher who will be at Lakeview Elementary this year, has seven years of experience in teaching but she also found her week at EIA valuable. “It was pretty complete,” noted Yarger, who previously taught in the Seattle School District. She learned that all of the staff has the same vision, “from the para through the superintendent.” She was surprised by the level of support in the district, especially for special education. “It’s student first versus disability first, looking at the student body as a whole and how to get them to graduation.”
After more than a week learning the basics, these educators new to the district will join their colleagues for a full week of additional learning and preparing in their schools before school starts. “With EIA, we know that teachers new to the district will be able to focus on teaching when school starts,” said Stephen Bryant, director of professional learning. “In many districts, educators new to the district get little additional time to prepare. EIA gives educators, and in turn their students, the best chance to succeed from the start.”