New Teacher Support

Teaching is a craft.  Here at the Institute for University School Partnership we believe that honing this craft takes years of practice and strong guidance.  Through our New Teacher Support team, we aim to help schools develop programs to mentor new teachers and create a culture of learning and inquiry around teaching and learning that permeates the entire school community.

The resources provided here are aimed at different aspects of induction leaders in a school.  Through a team approach, we believe that new teachers can be supported and nurtured as they enter the field and develop their skills.  Through this support we hope that these new teachers will, overtime, refine their craft and perhaps someday offer their own expertise to new teachers in their schools.

New Teacher Induction Program

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The Jim Joseph Foundation has graciously awarded YU’s School Partnership with a generous grant to help committed day schools around the country develop school-wide induction programs to support new teachers.  We are now ready to begin our nation wide selection process for our third cohort of partner schools.

Five deserving schools will be chosen to be a part of this fully funded program for the next three years.  We are looking for schools that are interested in supporting their new faculty, and growing the internal capacity of their veteran staff.  We will work with schools on an individual basis to set up comprehensive systems to enhance teacher learning and increase school wide awareness about issues regarding teaching and learning.  Stipends are provided for faculty members involved in the program and free professional development opportunities are an integral part of the program. 


 Applications are due January 31.  The 5 selected induction schools will be notified by the end of February. 

Download this file (Induction Application FINAL 121212.pdf)Induction Application FINAL 121212.pdf [ ] 197 Kb

Mentorship: Teaching the Teachers

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This article from Shira Loewenstein was featured on Edutopia.

altYou've been teaching for five years, and you love every part of it. You love the kids, your colleagues -- well -- you love teaching. The parents are happy, the kids learn, but you’re getting an "itch." School isn't as exciting as it used to be. The routines are becoming routine, and you know what the kids are going to get stuck on, push back at, get excited by -- nothing is new anymore.

You are not alone.

Should you pursue something else? Get on the track to become an administrator? Go back to grad school? What will bring that extra excitement back to your job? What will challenge you and, indeed, make every day an intellectual challenge? Would you want to stay if someone were pushing you to get better? If they were really challenging you to think about your practice and grow as an educator?

Channeling Your Expertise

Have you ever thought about teaching teaching? No, that wasn't a typo; it was a suggestion. You can become the next teacher of teachers and offer what you have learned to the newest members of the profession. There is no such thing as a "born teacher" or a "natural."

Author and teacher education expert Sharon Feiman-Nemser summed up concerns of new teachers nicely in What New Teachers Need to Learn, a 2003 article in Educational Leadership:

For the novice, the questions are unending: What am I supposed to teach? How will my students be tested? What will their test scores say about me as a teacher? What does the principal expect? Am I supposed to keep my students quiet, or do my colleagues understand that engaged learning sometimes means messy classrooms and active students? And after the first weeks of school, how can I find out what my students really know, deal with their diverse learning needs, and ensure that everyone is learning?

Teaching is a craft -- an art form -- that needs to be practiced and perfected. You know that new teachers don't know everything they need to thrive in your school -- even if they are really bright and come from a great graduate program. You have spent the past few years learning from your mistakes, reflecting on your practice, and perhaps now you are ready to help someone else.

Where to Begin as a Mentor

The first thing to do is look around your school. Is there a formal mentoring program going on? Do mentors meet regularly to talk about their mentoring practice? If so, you should join this community. Ask if you can become a regular at these meetings to learn more about mentoring from these mentors.

If your school doesn't have a mentoring program, you can start thinking about how to create one. Post a notice to your colleagues to see if anyone wants to be part of a book group with you. Begin the group by reading Beyond Mentoring by Jon Saphier or Coaching Classroom Instruction by Robert Marzano. Once you are acquainted with some of the basic principles of mentoring and coaching, you can start by observing one another and giving each other feedback.

Opening Your Classroom to Mentees

Now that you feel like this mentoring thing really is for you and you're ready to take the next leap, reach out to a local university. See what mentor training opportunities they have and how you can become involved. Your classroom may soon become a host classroom for new teachers, and you will be a mentor.

To become a teacher of teachers, or a mentor, you do not need to leave the classroom. You don't have to forgo the things you love; you are just adding another layer onto the teaching -- meta-teaching. This new challenge will help you think about your own practice. Why do you turn off the lights to get kids quiet? Is there a more effective way? Is there a different approach? Having another person observe your classroom regularly and question your decisions will help you grow in your own practice.

Becoming a mentor gives you a new peer group of other mentors and novice teachers. There is an entire world of mentoring, a ladder of professional growth. This field of new teacher support must continue growing to ensure that the caliber of our schools continues to grow.

Growing Within Your Job

Ultimately, the students need skilled teachers guiding them. As a skilled and proficient educator, you can't teach all of them every year, but you can teach their teachers. You can ensure that the teacher next door is thinking about his practice in a thoughtful manner. You can say with confidence that you know your kids will be going on to a reflective teacher -- if you are part of their teacher's education.

Graduate programs are always looking for skilled, thoughtful, reflective practitioners to open their classrooms to the new teachers entering the field. There are so many talented teachers who leave the field when they get that "itch," but you don't need to be one of them. You can continue to learn and grow within your current job, and help a novice learn as well. If you love teaching, why give that up for something else? Just start teaching the teachers.

What have you learned from a novice teacher that has helped improve your practice? What were some of the surprises you experienced taking on the role of mentor?




Our Countdown

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We are pleased to welcome Shira Leibowitz as she joins Dov Emerson as a co-facilitator for the YU2.0 community of practice.  Below are Shira's thoughts for the new school year from her blog.

Our countdown to the first day of school is here, at least for those of us in districts and regions that have not already started the 2012-2013 school year.

 For many of us, our countdown includes additional counting. We count with numbered lists: “to do”, ideas, activities, lessons, tools, tips, and general wisdom lists.

Some of my favorite bloggers have chosen to share their lists. With gratitude to them, I’ve collated a new countdown; not a countdown to the first day of school, but a countdown for the first days of school and for the upcoming year.

10 Ideas For Transforming Your Teaching This School Year - By Shelly Terrell

9 Tips For Collaboration Starting The School Year - From Edutopia

8 First Day Of School Activities - From Powerful Learning Practice

7 Mobile Apps Students Can Use To Never Lose Handwritten Notes Again - From Free Tech For Teachers

6 Ways Principals Can Connect With Students - From George Couros

5 Edmodo Activities For The First Day Of School - From The Edmodo Blog

4 Favorite Edtech Tools To Inspire Your Lessons - From Educatorstudio

3 Tools Every Virtual Learning Environment Needs - From Focus On Edtech K-12

2 Things Everyone Wants - From Brett Clark

1 Most Important Thing I Learned In School - From Educational Leadership

Please don’t hesitate to share some of your favorite lists for the upcoming year. Our countdown is on!



Who is Flying the Plane?

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Somewhere over Nebraska my plane began to experience serious turbulence.  It was like being on a rollercoaster in the sky.  Being the nervous traveler that I am, I thought to myself “It is a good thing that every commercial pilot needs to go through many hours of training before they become licensed to fly these planes.”  But what if that wasn’t required.  What if pilots were in such demand that we hired ‘really smart people who were good with buttons’ straight out of college?  Would you want to ride on that plane?

All too often we put our children in classrooms with ‘really smart people out of college who are great with children.’  They have no training or support, and many of them are destined to crash and burn. 

So what can we, as school leaders do to make sure that these new teachers succeed?  As a field we first need to acknowledge that teaching is truly a craft.  It is not merely a set of skills, tricks, and techniques that can be taught in a week.  No one was ‘born’ a teacher. Teaching is truly an art cultivated over many years through practice, thoughtfulness and deep self-reflection. 


Jewish Educators Turn To Mentoring For Growth, Support

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Three mentoring or coaching programs offer help in fighting teacher attrition and advancing the field.

Jewish Week Correspondent
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Amy Ament, left, of the Jewish New Teacher Project, coaches Susan Mindrick, a second-year teacher at Carmel Academy in Greenwich
Amy Ament, left, of the Jewish New Teacher Project, coaches Susan Mindrick, a second-year teacher at Carmel Academy in Greenwich

Adele Chabot’s first year of teaching seemed like a nightmare to her, says the 22-year-old educator at the Barkai Yeshivah, a school in Flatbush serving Sephardic Jews.

“Everything that could go wrong did go wrong,” she says, recalling that she faced not only discipline problems, but also the overwhelming nature of adjusting to a new job and a new environment.

“Even if there are no discipline problems, it’s hard for a new teacher because everything is new,” Chabot says. “Planning a lesson is new; meeting with parents is new; learning to speak to students in the right way is new.”

But Chabot entered the classroom last September, ready to begin her second year in the field, with the professional confidence and self-esteem she lacked during the previous term. Calling herself a “changed teacher” and a changed person, she now says she’s “one of the happiest people in the world” — an educator who “loves” her students and looks forward to work each morning.

Not only does she feel she’s engaging the students on a deeper level, but, she says, the disciplinary problems have also disappeared. Rather than scream or shout at her students, as Chabot did last year, she now feels better able to handle problems, and that, she believes, leads to an atmosphere of mutual respect.

What made the difference, she says, is the guidance she’s received from one of the school’s veteran teachers, Vicky Kairy, through the Jewish New Teacher Project.

Part of the New Teacher Center in Santa Cruz, Calif., JNTP is one of several relatively new programs that offer mentoring or coaching to teachers in Jewish day schools and yeshivas. Other programs include Hidden Sparks, launched in 2006 and now working with 34 schools, and Yeshiva University’s New Teacher Induction Program, now in its pilot year and involved with five schools.

While each program is unique, taking a different approach from the others, all have the same goal, says Shira Loewenstein, who heads the YU program. “It’s about advancing teaching and learning” in Jewish schools and yeshivas.

The programs have taken shape at a time when teacher burnout has affected as much as a half of all new teachers, including those in Jewish schools.

“Forty to 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession in their first five years,” says Ellen Moir, CEO of the New Teacher Center, who cites a 2004 study for that figure. In the eyes of Moir and other educators, it’s a rate of attrition that hurts everyone, from students, teachers and schools to the community itself, especially after so much money has been invested into recruiting teachers and developing them professionally.

The Jewish New Teacher Project came into existence in 2002 after the attrition problem set off alarm bells at the Avi Chai Foundation, a private charity devoted to promoting Jewish education, says Fayge Safran, JNTP’s interim director.

At the time, she explains, the foundation did a needs-assessment study of what principals believed would most advance education in their schools, “and teacher mentoring surfaced as a common thread.” The foundation then researched various organizations involved in that work, leading Avi Chai staff members to the New Teacher Center, which, by all accounts, was having a huge impact on teacher retention.

Asked by the foundation to work in Jewish schools, the New Teacher Center agreed, creating JNTP as one of its divisions. JNTP now works with 49 schools in New York, New Jersey and five other locations around the country.

The work involves supporting new teachers in their first two years through “in-house mentors” — other, more veteran members of the school’s faculty who’ve been trained to coach their colleagues — and “visiting mentors,” or educators from outside the school. JNTP provides extensive training for both types of mentors, each of whom meets with and observes the new teacher for two hours a week, aiding them in such areas as analyzing student work, communicating with parents and planning a lesson.

Each new teacher also attends four seminars led by JNTP during those two years, Safran says — forums that cover classroom management, how to engage students and other subjects related to teaching.

“The goal is that, in two years, the new teacher will be an independent problem-solver,” no longer dependent on his or her mentor, Safran says. Like her counterparts at Hidden Sparks and YU’s New Teacher Induction Program, she adds that her program’s mentors don’t tell new teachers what to do, but, instead, act as their allies, helping them arrive at their own conclusions.

“One of the best compliments I ever got from a new teacher was, ‘Fayge, I hear your voice in my head,” recalls Safran, who became head of the organization when its director of seven years, Mark S. Silk, left las month.

The language at Hidden Sparks is more student-oriented, reflecting the program’s history. Debbie Niderberg, the organization’s director, says it was launched, in part, with seed money from philanthropists Pamela and George Rohr, interested in helping struggling students in Jewish day schools. With those funds, she and her colleagues developed a model that helps classroom teachers come up with individual strategies for each student, thus avoiding a tendency on the part of some educators to label students or place them in a box.

“The idea was to prevent students from falling through the cracks,” Niderberg says. “That was how we came up with the name of Hidden Sparks,” referring to the sparks, or strengths, within each child.

The mentors trained or employed by Hidden Sparks are referred to as coaches, and the teachers they help span the spectrum, from new teachers to veteran members of the faculty, from those without any degree to those with a master’s degree. As with JNTP, the program utilizes internal and external coaches, each of whom visits the classrooms of individual teachers and leads monthly forums for groups of educators.

At YU, what makes Shira Loewenstein’s program unique “is that we view new-teacher mentoring as part of the induction process,” but not the only part, she says. The process also includes creating a community of new teachers, creating a community of veteran teachers and working with the school’s leaders.

The program is part of YU’s Institute for University-School Partnership, which offers an array of services to each school, including help with financial planning, board governance and professional development, says Dina Rabhan, the institute’s director of recruitment, placement and induction. The belief, she adds, is that everything about a school — the finances, the community, the teaching — is interconnected.

One discovery made by educators at JNTP, Hidden Sparks and the YU program — all of which are based in New York — is that mentoring helps not only the teachers being coached, but the mentors themselves.

Vicky Kairy, Chabot’s mentor at the Barkai Yeshivah and a seven-year member of the school’s faculty, says her experience with JNTP has given her the chance “to sit down and reflect on what I’m doing as a teacher and what others are doing.”

Meanwhile, Kairy, 27, is proud of the progress made by Chabot, who, she believes, has “set herself up for success this year” by recognizing her strengths, as well as her weaknesses. And Chabot is now advising other new teachers “who had the same problems I had last year.” 




Review of Learning About Teaching

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Measures of Effective Teaching” (MET) Project seeks to validate the use of a teacher’s estimated “value-added”—computed from the year-on-year test score gains of her students—as a measure of teaching effectiveness. Using data from six school districts, the initial report examines correlations between student survey responses and value-added scores computed both from state tests and from higher-order tests of conceptual understanding. The study finds that the measures are related, but only modestly. The report interprets this as support for the use of value-added as the basis for teacher evaluations. This conclusion is unsupported, as the data in fact indicate that a teachers’ value-added for the state test is not strongly related to her effectiveness in a broader sense. Most notably, value-added for state assessments is correlated 0.5 or less with that for the alternative assessments, meaning that many teachers whose value-added for one test is low are in fact quite effective when judged by the other. As there is every reason to think that the problems with value-added measures apparent in the MET data would be worse in a high-stakes environment, the MET results are sobering about the value of student achievement data as a significant component of teacher evaluations.


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