The Beginning Teacher
Teaching is extremely difficult and will never be perfect (Danielson, 2007). The beginning teacher, whether they are recent enthusiastic college graduates or individuals embarking on a career change, require support (Watkins 2005). In order to feel like successful, contributing members of a community of learners, these professionals need to be supported (Watkins 2005). Coaching beginning teachers starting at day one will set the tone for future success. The teacher will become more successful; therefore, the students will become more successful.
Using the Danielson Framework to assess the environment and climate, I would look for how the teacher interacts with the students in the class and how the students interact with each other. The classroom environment should be one of mutual respect. There should be evidence that the teacher is establishing rituals and routines beginning on the first day of school. This will help with student behavior as well as procedures. Classroom management has been identified as an area that “requires immediate attention” (Chesley and Hartman, p.3).
Instructional strategies should include clarity of instruction, classroom discussion, feedback, formative assessments, as well as metacognitive strategies, such as accessing prior knowledge (Adler 2015). According to Young (2015), student engagement strategies should include but are not limited to Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down. This strategy allows teachers a quick system to check for understanding to determine whether or not students have learned a particular concept. This activity can be extended with class discussion. Students can also use Think-Pair-Share (Young, 2015).
This is a strategy that I learned when my district utilized the Successful For All Foundation’s Reading Program. The teacher asks a question. Students think about an answer. They pair with a partner to discuss their answer. Some students are also allowed to share their answer with the class. This strategy also contributes to a positive classroom climate since every student is allowed to share his or her thinking. Teachers may also have their students participate in a Gallery Walk (Young, 2015). Student work is posted on the classroom walls to form a gallery. Students walk around the classroom to observe their peers’ work and engage in dialogue about their work.
Higher order thinking techniques are crucial to student achievement. Students are using higher order thinking strategies when they are asked to create something. Williams (2000) suggests using graphic organizers to stimulate higher order thinking. He suggests that graphic organizers make thinking visible. Using technology, students can create graphic organizers using desktop computers, tablets, and laptops. Teachers can also use Smart Boards to project lessons and demonstrate activities. Many Smart Board activities are interactive so they encourage student engagement. Technology can also be used to differentiate instruction and for small group activities. My district utilizes the website www.Freckle.com. Student work is differentiated according to each student’s level. There are units for all content areas on the website. The work is graded on the website and can be printed and placed in students’ folders. Technology is a valuable tool for student assessment.
Positive feedback could include classroom environment and student engagement. The lesson adhered to the stated objective. Students were attentive and responsive by participating in class dialogue. They were engaged in the activity by working with their partner to complete the assignment. Evidence from the observation would be used for constructive feedback (Conducting Observations). I may ask if there is any planning for extension activities for students that finish an assignment early. Some students finished the activity before the rest of the class and appeared to have nothing to do. Since they were working on a graphic organizer, they may have been allowed to start the next phase of the assignment or have activities in their folders that they can complete while they wait.
Additional coaching activities that I would include with this teacher would be study groups. Study groups give the novice teacher the “learning in practice that they need while getting support from veteran colleagues” (Watkins, p.85). I would also work with the teacher on lesson planning. Most beginning teachers are not familiar with the format of lesson planning and how to include differentiated activities into their plans.
I would also work with the beginning teacher on classroom management strategies. The best-written plan cannot be implemented without adequate classroom management. Watkins (2005) suggests using action research with beginning teachers. Action research benefits the entire school community. It is a learning opportunity for the beginning teacher as well as the veteran. The results obtained through action research projects impact everyone and give valuable insight into how to better serve students as well as staff. It also makes the beginning teacher feel like a valued member and not just a spectator.
Danielson, C (2007). Enhancing professional practice: A framework for teaching (2nd edition). Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development: Alexandria, VA.
Conducting Observations and Providing Meaningful Feedback. (n.d) Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Retrieved July 27, 2018 from: http://www.doe.mass.edu/edprep/cap/Workshop-Handouts.pdf
Watkins, P. (2005). The Principal’s Role in Attracting, Retaining, and Developing New Teachers: Three Strategies for Collaboration and Support. The Clearing House
Young, S. (2015). Reading Horizons. 14 Classroom Activities That Increase Student Engagement. Retrieved July 27, 2018 from https://www.readinghorizons.com/blog/14-classroom-activities-that-increase-student-engagement
Chesley, G. & Hartman, D. (2012). Myth of the “Last-In” Superstar. Education Digest
Williams, R.B. (2003). Higher Order Thinking Skills: Challenging All Students to Achieve. Corwin Press: Thousand Oaks, CA.