Posts Tagged With: beginning teachers

EDCAMP Millennial – New Teachers Are Different

Most individuals entering the teaching profession today are different.

They’re part of the Millennial generation, born sometime after 1982 and before 2004, and are often referred to as Generation “Y” or Generation “Me.” It is widely believed that each generation comes with a set of common traits and Millennials are known, on the one hand for their confidence and tolerance, but on the other hand for a sense of entitlement and narcissism. Baby Boomers like me (who, by the way, consider ourselves to be work-centric, independent, goal-oriented, and competitive) often focus in on these more negative traits when talking about the Millennials. We have a hard time wrapping our heads around why they aren’t more like us.


I recently read an article about the 5 Key Traits Millennial Consumers Share and started thinking about the large number of new teachers who are part of the Mentorship Program in my District this year. The 5 traits listed below are very evident in this group and our year of Mentorship has evolved into something completely different as a result.

  1. Millennials expect technology to simply work–so you’d better make sure that it does.
  2. Millennials are a social generation—and they socialize while consuming (and deciding to consume) your products and services.
  3. They collaborate and cooperate–with each other and, when possible, with brands.
  4. They’re looking for adventure (and whatever comes their way).
  5. They’re passionate about values–including the values of companies they do business with.

Our Mentorship program consists of a number of components throughout the year including 8 evening supper sessions where about 80 new teachers, mentors and District staff come together for sessions that support new teachers. A schedule is usually created at the beginning of the year based on new initiatives and feedback from the previous year. Traditionally, the sessions are led by District staff and the mentors are there to provide our new teachers with wisdom and advice.

Well this year something very interesting has happened. By mid year it became obvious that this particular group of new teachers wanted something more than ‘sit and get’ learning. They wanted more brought to the table. They craved learning in a way that’s highlighted in the 5 points listed above. So, in an effort to respond to their needs we stepped away from our traditional learning model and held an EDCAMP type evening this past February. I was familiar with the EDCAMP model after attending a few myself and organizing one when I was a principal earlier in my career. When the evening arrived I was expecting the mentor teachers to sign up and lead the majority of the sessions. After all, they were the ones with most of the knowledge and experience. By doing so they could then lead conversations that would engage the new teachers in a collaborative setting. But that’s not what happened at all. Fourteen of the fifteen sessions were added to our board and led by the new teachers. (see the board below) Our mentors were happy to step back and allow the newbies to take charge, sharing their learning and ideas. Not once during the evening did our new teachers appear uncomfortable with the format. In fact, they embraced it and were highly engaged the entire evening.


The point I’m trying to make here is that this is yet another example of how we need to let go of our traditional beliefs around Education. Not only is learning changing for kids, it is also changing for these Millennials who are entering the teaching profession. If we want teachers who are life long learners and who are fully engaged in the transformation of our Education system we need to understand who they are and what makes them tic. My plan is to do that going forward.

Categories: 21st Century Learning, Capacity Building, Education Transformation | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

New Teachers Don’t Need TTWWADI Mentors

What should beginning teacher induction programs look like?

Most of them look like this one from Ontario’s Ministry of Education website and include:

  • orientation for all new teachers to the school and school board
  • mentoring for new teachers by experienced teachers
  • professional development and training in areas such as:
    • Literacy and Numeracy strategies, Student Success, Safe Schools, etc.
    • Classroom management, effective parent communication skills, and instructional strategies that address the learning and culture of students with special needs and other diverse learners.

…and you can see a similar program in action by watching the following video which features the teacher induction program at Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School’s, a district in Alberta.

Both of these are excellent examples of how beginning teachers should be supported to ensure a successful transition into the profession. This is important because, as I reported in an earlier post, “In Alberta…40% of all teachers entering the profession leave within the first 5 years.” Quality induction programs are widely regarded as a high yield strategy to reduce those numbers.

In my opinion, the key to a successful mentorship program lies not in the structure, but in the quality of each individual mentor. After looking at a number of programs, I’ve come up with this list of competencies seen as desirable in effective mentors:

  1. Willing to serve as a mentor and to be approachable
  2. Foresighted, anticipating problems and preparing solutions in advance
  3. An excellent role model
  4. Sensitive to the needs, feelings, and skills of others.
  5. Candid, but also positive, patient, encouraging, and helpful
  6. Committed to the success of their protegé
  7. Discrete and confidential about what is said and not said
  8. Nurturing, caring, and accepting
  9. Reflective teacher
  10. Adept at balancing maintenance of relationships and accomplishment of tasks
  11. Knowledgeable about the organization and it’s culture, mission, and values
  12. An effective listener and communicator
  13. Respected by others

Mentor Wordle October 2009

This is a wonderful list of qualities and any new teacher would be lucky to receive the support and guidance of individuals who posses them. But for me, this is not enough. I’m just worried about TTWWADI. (This blog post by Jason Berg explains the concept of TTWWADI really well.) These qualities can be found in great teachers, both those who are moving forward with their practice and those who remain in a very traditional model of pedagogical thinking.

As the individual tasked with designing a quality induction program for 22 new teachers in my district, I have become increasingly aware of the importance of finding the right mentors for today’s protégés and not mentors for yesterday’s protégés. I’m not even sure if years of experience is on the top of my list as the most import thing to consider. When our school-based administrators start tapping prospective mentors on the shoulder this week, I ask that they consider some of these questions first:

Are they engaging students with new and innovative approaches?

Are they a life long learner, open to the views and feedback of others?

Are they a risk taker, willing to move out of their comfort zone?

Are they tech savvy and able to build the protégés capacity to integrate technology?

Are they skilled at differentiating instruction?

Have they flattened the walls of their classroom?

Do they use ongoing formative assessment?

Do their students have choice in how they learn and how they demonstrate their learning?

Is their classroom environment flexible and student centred?

If we’re going to build the critical mass necessary for Educations great shift to take place, we need to be intentional about many things we do, including the pairing of mentors and protégés. Otherwise, TTWWADI will rule the day.

Categories: 21st Century Learning, Capacity Building, Education Transformation, Human Resources | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My 1st New Teacher Orientation Day

Later this month I will be facilitating the “New Teacher Orientation” for 15-20 brand new educators who have chosen our district as the place to begin their careers. I’m both nervous and excited about the day because it’s an opportunity to get these young teachers off to a good start and to share with them our mission, which is to provide an excellent & inspiring Catholic education for our communities. Not only do they represent future promise for our schools, but if supported in the right ways will lead the education transformation agenda for years to come. I consider this to be one of my most important responsibilities the entire year.

So to better understand how the day should look, I’ve been spending some time reviewing the data from previous years exit surveys and have identified the most popular responses on the following two lists:

Things That Were Most Helpful

1. Presentation on Payroll/Benefits Q&A

2. Hearing from 2nd Year Teacher Panel Q&A

3. Hearing from a School Principal Q&A

Things I Would Change

1. Too much information. Please give less.

2. Need more time to talk/network.

An alarming statistic exists in Alberta where 40% of all teachers entering the profession leave within the first 5 years. The reasons include workload and stress issues, class sizes, issues with school administrators or local school board policies, and government educational policies. This study conducted by The Centre for Research for Teacher Education and Development at the University of Alberta offers 5 recommendations about what needs to be in place in order for teachers to thrive and choose to remain in the profession. What stood out for me in the report was that three of the five recommendations dealt directly with the need to provide multiple ways for teachers to experience ongoing collaborative professional growth, not just in the first year, but throughout their careers.

This has me thinking about including a short presentation about becoming a connected educator. This post I wrote last school year called The First Step in Connected Learning – Open Your Door might be a good place to start.

Here is my draft outline for the day:

8:30 a.m.        Breakfast

9:00 a.m.        Opening Prayer

9:05 a.m.        Welcome and Introductions

9:10 a.m.        General Session Overview

9:15 a.m.        Superintendent’s Address/Welcome

9:20 a.m.        What is Religious Education?

9:50 a.m.        Sharing of Important Documents

  1. Framework for Student Learning
  2. Inspiring Education
  3. A Great School for All
  4. Ministerial Order on Student Learning

10:15 a.m.       Nutrition Break

10:35 a.m.       Principal’s Talk Q & A

11:00 a.m.       Teachers Association Information

11:20 a.m.       Payroll/Benefits Q & A

12:00 p.m.       Lunch

1:00 p.m.         Divisions Focus for Improvement – A Conversation.

1:20 p.m.         Teacher Information Package Q & A

1:30 pm            2nd Year Teacher Panel Q & A

2:00 p.m.          Afternoon Break

2:20 p.m.          Mentorship Program – How it works.

2:30 p.m.          How to Become A Connected Educator (Interactive Presentation)

3:00 p.m.          Door Prizes and Closing Prayer

I hope the day is both valuable and inspiring for our new teachers. If it spring boards them into a culture of collaboration and continual growth, perhaps they will avoid an early exit from this honourable profession.

Categories: Capacity Building, Education Transformation, Human Resources | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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