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New Teachers Participate in Three Day Orientation

The challenges for first year teachers can be far-ranging and daunting. Now imagine those challenges amplified and extended when your first year will begin with remote instruction, from Meet the Teacher to that ever important First Day.

Over many years, CHCCS Human Resources Department has built a very strong orientation program for teachers who are new to public instruction. This year presented its own challenges to the HR team that designed the traditional New Teacher Orientation, but Katy McGovern and Brian Tyson, CHCCS Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) Teachers, worked with leaders at Lincoln Center to provide a full, engaging series of sessions to provide the new teachers with information, guidance and most important, support.

Beginning on August 6, 25 new teachers met online for full-group and break out sessions to learn about issues related to synchronous and asynchronous instruction, professionalism in virtual settings, building relationships and adopting equitable practices in every area of their jobs. One of the ongoing key concepts emphasized by the training team was “Asking for help is not a failure.” The essential question “What does engagement mean?” underpinned much of each discussion.

“We had breakout rooms, activities, and even trivia quizzes in between sessions,” McGovern said. “We tried to model what they would be learning about and utilizing themselves: using both whole group, small group, and various types of feedback platforms like Padlet to increase engagement.”

The new teachers are not all new to teaching; a few have taught in private or charter schools, but none had taught in public schools. They included classroom, Exceptional Children and specials teachers from elementary, middle and high schools.

On the first day, Interim Superintendent, Dr. Jim Causby, Executive Director of Equity and Inclusion, Lee Williams, and Executive Director of Human Resources, Erika Newkirk all welcomed the new teachers. Rody Huertas Ostolaza, 2020 Most Promising New Teacher, from Frank Porter Graham Bilingue, offered a special greeting and words of advice.

As these teachers learned about their new professional community, the message that everyone shares ownership around student achievement was an integral part of orientation. The conversations returned frequently to how teachers build and sustain equity-centered classrooms.

With nearly two weeks of instruction under their belts now, teachers have been encouraged to check in with McGovern and Tyson as often as they need, as well as reach out to their own school’s administrators and colleagues. Throughout the year, they will reconvene for monthly meetings with the PAR teachers to share concerns, ask questions and cheer each other on.

The orientation is really only the beginning of a three year support plan: first and second year teachers work with certified mentor teachers, and third year teachers receive a certified mentor “buddy.” Mentors are all trained, based on the N.C. Mentor Standards.

Please take time, whenever possible, to welcome our new CHCCS teachers!