We are excited to launch a new podcast series about mentoring new teachers. Stenhouse author Shawna Coppola has been talking with Laura, a new kindergarten teacher. Join us and follow along as they discuss Laura’s first year of teaching.
Mentoring New Teachers Podcast-Episode 1: Fitting It All In
By Shawna Coppola
When Stenhouse asked me if I wanted to mentor a new teacher through her first year and record the experience for posterity, I barely took a breath before saying yes. As someone who has taught for nearly two decades, I still feel the desire to be mentored, to surround myself with supportive individuals who understand the joyful, yet challenging, life of an educator and can occasionally offer a sage piece of advice, a thought-provoking question, a listening ear, or–most importantly, for me anyway–a much-needed laugh.
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway, and loudly, for those sitting in the back) that teachers are engaged in some of the most complex work imaginable. If you don’t believe me, spend a day in a public school classroom; it’s all the time you’ll need to witness the hundreds of important decisions made (often on the fly), the masterful integration of a seemingly endless variety of skills, and the near-superhuman capacity for empathy and grace.
Laura is an educator who, even in her first year, demonstrates all of these things. A kindergarten teacher in a K-6 public school serving approximately 300 students, Laura confessed to me during our very first conversation together that she knew from early on that she wanted to work with children. This year, she teaches–largely independently, with only occasional access to a classroom aide–22 of them, although the number varies depending on the fluctuation of families moving in and out of the community. According to Laura, the students she has this year are kind, motivated to learn, and, for the most part, “want to be” in school.
Like many teachers, though, Laura finds it difficult to balance building positive, healthy relationships with her students alongside “managing” them as a whole group. One of her biggest challenges is related to planning and making all of the (aforementioned) decisions she must make as a teacher–both ahead of time and “in the moment.” She worries about how to fit in valuable instruction around skills that many perceive as “non-academic” or “soft” along with more traditionally-recognized “academic” skills.
In this first audio post, which was recorded in October of 2017, Laura and I discuss the enormous, all-too-familiar challenge of “fitting it all in”–particularly with regard to literacy–and how to maintain a daily schedule for her students that is meaningful, engaging, and developmentally appropriate.
RESOURCES & INSPIRATION:
Boushey, G., & Moser, J. (2006). The Daily 5. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.
#kinderchat (Twitter chat, Mondays 9:00 PM EST)
Mraz. K. & Hertz, C. (2015). A mindset for learning: Teaching the traits of joyful, independent growth. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Mraz, Kristine. Kinderconfidential [Blog]. https://kinderconfidential.wordpress.com/author/kristimraz/