Supporting Beginning Teachers – What do they need?

This year I have agreed to take on the role of Supervisor and Mentor for our latest batch of New Scheme Teachers. While the school has had beginning teachers previously we haven’t had very many due to our North Coast location – more a place to finish your career than start it – and the supervision in the past has been quite ad hoc and dependent on who the supervisor was. Add to this a lack of understanding of the requirements of The Insitute of Teachers and the accreditation process and you can see why someone needed to volunteer to get the whole process organised.

So, first up, I went trawling to find out what was out there. Naturally, I started with the Institute of Teachers which I found had a great many resources and templates to download. Next I visited the DET ‘s Professional Learning and Leadership Directorate and found even more great material. In fact, I wish I had looked through this site much earlier as it has so much information and so many great resources to assist any teacher in their professional awareness and development.

From there things have got trickier. There is very little else out there to support New Scheme Teachers or their supervisors. Most frustratingly, there are very few examples of the accreditation report that each teacher needs to complete. The report samples on the Institute site haven’t changed much since it was launched and anecdotal evidence suggests that things have changed re the amount of evidence etc teachers needed to support their preofessional competence.

I have created a Moodle course for NSTs and have placed everything I have found in it so at least they can find what they need quickly and easily. I must admit I did get this idea from a research report I did find on the internet from Scots College – one of the few useful additional resources I found. In the Moodle Course I have added all the relevant Institute and DET policies, guides and templates as well as list of resources dealing with Quality Teaching and Bloom’s Taxonomy. Feel free to check the course out at http://coffsharbourhighschool.com/moodle/index.php. It is currently in the “unassigned” section and you just need to login as a guest using the password – NST. I would gladly welcome any suggestions and ideas on how to improve the course.

So all that is done and I am now thoroughly versed in what the New Scheme Teacher has to do to get accredited etc BUT what else do they need? What is it that will make the life of a beginning teacher, in particular, easier? What do they need support in on a daily and/or weekly basis?

Of course, there are the usual old chestnuts – classroom management, lesson preparation, time management etc – but what do they need support with in the first few days at the school, in their first week etc when everything is so new and the reality of school life is finally hitting home? What did you need that you either got or wished you had recieved?

I would really like to set up a calendar of workshops and topics to work through with the new teachers and am keen to hear how other schools and teachers have approached it. I have no access to HT Mentors as the numbers of new staff in our area is so low and most schools in my region are in the same boat re getting organised. Again, the DET has some policy documents but they are very general in nature.

So I am looking to you to make sure I hit the ground running with my first batch of beginning/New Scheme Teachers.

If you have run induction programs before:

* What did you do?

* What were the keys for making it a success?

* How did you present the information?

If you have recently been a NST working towards accreditation of professional  competence and have been a beginning teacher what did you need support in? What questions did you need answering? What worked well and why?

I will be interested, and appreciative, of any advice and suggestions. 😀

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About madiganda

Head Teacher English and now literacy consultant, passionate about English, education and embracing the future. Oh and a reality tv fan!
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6 Responses to Supporting Beginning Teachers – What do they need?

  1. Simon Job says:

    First thing that comes to mind for me would be organised observations of quality teachers in various KLAs. Where possible, with classes I also taught.

    In my first year I did very little observation of other teachers – just seemed too busy. When I had settled a bit in my second year, I organised some observations and found them very helpful.

  2. madiganda says:

    Thanks for that Simon.

    I agree that observing a variety of good practitioners is important in the development of a teacher – it gives them ideas on how to question students, on how to manage a classroom, how to structure a lesson and how to vary instruction.

    We are giving them a lesson off a fortnight so I think I should definitely include observations, and their deconstruction afterwards, as part of the support.

  3. Alex says:

    Hi Paula, I loved the blog post. Really thoughtful and insightful. Wonderful to see you so open to feedback and communication! Its hard for me to give you specifics other than the ones that you have mentioned. But I have been paired with a wonderful mentor at school, we are going to meet fortnightly throughout the year. I think the biggest thing you can do on your end is just set the NST up for success by being incredibly organized (ie put together a welcome pack with bell times, school map, contact details of key staff etc) as this will fill in a lot of the gaps that they will be coming to the profession with.

  4. madiganda says:

    Thanks Alex. Will definitely have all that crucial info ready for them. I have one teacher that is straight out of uni, like you, one who started term 4 and one who has done lots of blocks but is now permanent and has to do the NST accreditation. So I am trying to be flexible in terms of what I will offer.

    I would be really keen for your thoughts – via your blog or here – on your developing needs, issues and questions as you start your own teaching career.

  5. Narelle says:

    Hi
    As a casual new scheme teacher and teacher librarian, I have no mentor or support at either of my schools and would like to dearly be able to check your resources on your moodle but couldn’t get in with the password you posted. Please can you help I am feeling isolated.

    • madiganda says:

      Hi Narelle,
      Sorry that a stressful process is being made even more stressful due to a lack of a mentor and support. Being a casual teacher doing this process is extra difficult especially if you are not attached to a particular school at least for a decent block of time. The Moodle setup has changed since I did this post. Go back to the Coffs Harbour High School Moodle site. Click on Other courses on the homepage, then in the drop down bar (Currently on General Course) choose “Staff” and you will find the NST site there. It will ask you for the password – NST – and then you will be in! I hope it helps.

      I would also recommend checking out Maang (since you are DEC) as it has several NST groups you can join and also Twitter.

      All the best and just email me if you need some more help 🙂

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