First Aid in Your First Month

Immediate help for beginning teachers to improve their teaching practice was the focus of the first of six seminars scheduled for this year, starting on October 1.Discussion of a problematic issue in the first month of teaching, and figuring out which of Danielson's Domains it aligns with best

Teachers from nine school districts sat at tables with colleagues in similar grade levels, taking turns with a partner to talk about hard-to-handle issues, like “My students act out–they have no interest in the lesson,” “Transitions are a big problem,” “There’s a lot of sass back,” and “I’m struggling with Common Core and implementing within an IEP.”

Putting Post-Its describing a problem area on one of the four Danielson's Domains posters

They decided which of the four Danielson’s Domains in the Framework for Teaching best described their particular issue, and put a Post-It note describing it on one of the four domains posters in the room.

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Facilitators quickly assessed the types of situations and concerns people posted.

Facilitators discuss how to lead break-out groupsEach facilitator took a group to lead. As predicted, the most issues revolved around Domain 2, The Classroom Environment.

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One beginning teacher in each group volunteered to work with the facilitator to demonstrate the kind of discussion to hold with a partner. Handouts included examples of coaching language–an important tool in mentoring and instructional coaching, and useful in teaching, as well.

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People were encouraged to come up with strategies to deal with the issue identified as a challenging one.

For students acting out, showing no interest in the lesson? Assign each student a job. Transitions a problem? Share the goal of a student-run classroom. Sassy students? Earn a game with positive behavior. Struggling with Common Core? Remember curriculum is a guide, not a strict set of rules.

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Evaluations were positive on how helpful the seminar had been—particularly the chance to talk at length with each other.

Other components of the evening included discussion of mindfulness, and translating modeled strategies of the evening to use in the classroom.