Saturday, July 10, 2010

Teaching Excellence: New Teacher Certification Training

Phew. Week 1 of Certification Training combined with 4 hours of rehearsal every night= survived. It was long, tiring, full of information, and daunting-to say the least. No worries, I'm also incredibly excited to begin teaching next month, but I am also realizing HOW MUCH tireless effort, concentration, and time it will require. I think my most difficult challenge will be coming up with engaging, stimulating, creative, and effective lessons. I have so many fears that I won't be a good teacher for my students. I want my students to do well and improve in their English language and literature comprehension, and I really hope I can do it.
(I'll be teaching 6th grade English Enrichment, and 6th and 7th grade electives-which I hope means drama, but I am still waiting for confirmation on that.)
I have met some amazing other people, however. And if nothing else, I know I will have the most inspiring support team to back me up on this new challenge. Only one other new teacher is training from my campus, Nausheen. (Pronounced New-sheen) She is AWESOME. She's my age and from Spring, TX. So she's also making a long commute to and from work every day. She'll be teaching 7th grade English and Social studies. I am so excited that we will be on the same campus and working together on the English content team. There's one other girl who I particularly like, and she's actually from League City. Bekah is incredibly sweet, and though she won't be teaching at West, she's also a 6th grade English teacher. I definitely plan on keeping in touch with her for ideas and brainstorming.
In training, it's a variety of lessons taught about planning lessons, managing misbehaviors, disciplining students, diversity training, & establishing and ensuring procedures and expectations. We have instructional coaches who teach lessons; we watch instructional videos, have group sessions of discussions and brainstorming, do role-plays and other activities, and ask lots of questions. Then we have deliverables- aka homework- and an opportunity to work on everything we're being taught.
As for a taste of the multitude of ideas and techniques I've been learning, here's some basics: LP-Lesson Planning is the crux of how to teach in the classroom. LP's are structured by an Opening (Hook), Introduction to New Material, GP (Guided Practice) and IP (Independent Practice), Assessment, and Closing. Each section has different requirements. The New Material needs to be made up of teaching key points about your objective (the knowledge and skill(s) you are teaching for the day) and CFU's (check for understandings). The GP/IP should be group and partner activities to gauge the student's understanding and application of the objective. The assessment, graded or not, then judges the individual's ultimate comprehension of the subject.
Beyond what we are actually required to teach, we're learning HOW to do it WHILE managing misbehavior AVOIDING personal prejudices OVERCOMING learning gaps between all of out students' different academic levels AND creating a supportive, inspiring and FUN environment for our students. So exciting but daunting seems an appropriate way to describe my new career.
What training has shown me, above anything else, is that teaching is a calling-and I've been called. It is meant to be. I am meant to teach. I've got my "teacher look" down (seriously, we were given time to practice this), can manage multiple misbehaviors all at once while remaining calm, and have the creativity to make my kids 'succeed' (based on the helpful feedback I've gotten from my 'homework' assignments, discussions, role-plays, and inspiring speeches our instructional coaches have given). The YES Prep environment is exactly the right one too- every staff member, teacher, student and parent is determined for the Big Goal- SUCCESS. Whatever it Takes. We will help our students succeed, go to a four year college and graduate from it.
I'm still terrified that I'll be able to do it, and do it right- but nonetheless, I am ready to be the instructional leader of my classroom. Ready to help my kids think higher and feel deeper.
Sigh. Life is falling into place.