The Tyler ISD Teaching and Learning department has launched a new professional development program to help support and retain beginning teachers. The Tyler ISD Beginning Teacher program includes a virtual component and a campus component to support and motivate new teachers through various learning styles.
“The Virtual Mentor component is designed to meet the needs of the 21st century teacher,” Shauna Hittle, executive director of teaching and learning, said. “Virtual Mentors are retired educators with invaluable classroom and administrative experience who care about beginning teachers and their successful induction into the teaching profession.”
Seven Virtual Mentors have been hired to work with beginning teachers using virtual tools such as email, Google Hangouts or Skype, Google Classroom, and The Teaching Channel to efficiently utilize time and resources. Virtual Mentors will also meet with their mentee for an initial visit and as needed throughout the year.
The Campus Mentor component ensures every beginning teacher is assigned a mentor who is an experienced teacher on their campus. Campus Mentors help support new teachers in various aspects ranging from teaching to campus responsibilities.
“I began teaching at the young age of 22 and quickly realized I wasn’t as prepared for a classroom of third graders as I thought I would be,” Mentor Rebecca Clapp said. “Fortunately, I had an outstanding district supervisor/mentor who saw my potential and guided me through that first year.”
Another aspect of the program will include four professional development sessions (two per semester) called 1st Connect and Twitter Chats (#1stTeachChat). Through 1st Connect sessions, new teachers will be given the opportunity to select various professional development topics led by experienced master teachers within the District. The first session was held Sept. 26. Twitter Chats will be held once a month in the evenings and will focus on topics relative to the beginning teacher’s needs. The voluntary chats are moderated by lead teachers, District personnel and mentors. The first Twitter Chat will take place Oct. 4.
“I could not have imagined a better support system as a brand new teacher,” Jessica Hernandez said. “I have a master teacher, campus mentor, instructional specialist, and virtual mentor at my fingertips without any fear of judgment.”
“It is vital to help support beginning teachers in any and all ways possible,” Hittle said. “Our hope is that this program will provide support, encouragement and resources to help beginning teachers set their course to successful student achievement.”