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ASSIST Beginning Teachers Newsletter





There is a better way to begin teaching...
FREE web-based tools to help beginning teachers,
mentor teachers and principals thrive.
January 2007
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Greetings!

Beginning teachers have a challenging road ahead of them. Principals and mentor teachers play important roles in beginning teacher success. The FREE web-based tools available from ASSIST can help make these first years of teaching richly rewarding for new teachers, mentor teachers and principals.

No matter what your role, you won't have to reinvent the wheel Over 1000 tools and resources for teaching successfully (and happily) and for implementing induction and mentoring programs are right here, based on research and tested by teachers and principals across Michigan.

If not already a subscriber, get started right now by checking out this issue and signing up to receive the ASSIST newsletter by email every month. Just click on "Join," type in your name and email address, your title, select the categories that interest you, and submit.

Planning instruction: Identifying big ideas
 
For Beginning Teachers

Effective teaching revolves around helping students connect with the material being taught. How do you keep the big ideas in their heads in the days and weeks following the lesson? Make it resonate. Here are two strategies and a comprehensive example list that will help you identify the big ideas around which to organize your unit and lessons, and plant them in your students' minds to germinate.


Planning instruction: Exploring content expectations
 
For Beginning Teachers

As you plan your units and lessons, you should evaluate what skills, capacities and types of thinking you'll be asking your students to do. Explore the four key questions you need to ask of each unit of study you're planning...and how to then match the activities you'll do with your students to achieve the learning goals you've outlined.


Unit planning for one content area
 
For Beginning Teachers
assessing lessons

You've identified your unit's big idea(s), now how do you work to turn that into weekly lesson plans? This two-step process will guide you through what you want students to learn, through allocation of time and resources, to assessment and evaluation of student progress, culminating in making the connection to other subjects. By completing this exercise you'll have weekly plans for your lessons that really work!


Unit planning across content areas
 
For Beginning Teachers

You've identified your unit's big idea(s), planned your weekly lessons...now how do you make connections to your students' learning - across subjects? This two-part exercise will help you make those important connections. The first section works in terms of the whole unit. The second part helps you create a weekly plan for the same learning goals.


One teacher's dilemma
 
For beginning teachers

There's so much content to cover in a year's time! What if I get behind? When do I know it's time to move on with my class? How might year-long planning help? Check out these tools for long-term planning.


Process for supporting beginning teachers in the classroom
 
For Mentor Teachers
mentor principal 2

As a mentor teacher, you'll be asked to observe a beginning teacher's classroom and provide objective feedback. What exactly is objective feedback when so much can be based on our own interpretations? This guide will help you focus on specific areas on which you want to target your observation, how to prepare, and how to follow up...and do so effectively. Then, both you and the beginning teacher together will have a chance to review, clarify interpretations, make suggestions on the process, and plan to take positive steps.


Mentor observation to support adjusting instruction
 
For Mentor Teachers
record keeping

Good teachers consistently use on-going assessment to adjust their planning and instruction. These judgments are made both on the spot and as a result of reflection after each lesson. Making immediate decisions and adjustments can be challenging for beginning teachers; that requires practice and awareness. This tool is intended to help mentors and beginning teachers identify potential adjustments that might have been made during a lesson.


Observation techniques
 
For Mentor Teachers
mentor

How do you go about employing the most effective observation techniques? This tool provides several techniques for observation grouped around 5 examples of classroom practice. You can select the perfect one to fit your situation.


Learning from problems of practice
 
For Mentor Teachers
mentor2

All teachers face common challenges and problems. Solving them can be a collaborative effort that yields the most ideas in the shortest amount of time, by pooling many teachers' ideas at one time. The goal is ensuring everyone will come away with at least one or two ideas they can put into practice. This exercise will help you set up and facilitate an 8-step process that will enable all the partcipating teachers to learn and share solutions with greater efficiency.


Helping teachers take control of curriculum
 
For Principals
mentor

You're under pressure from both sides - curriculum is key for reform at your school. And teachers are under attack because of test scores and feeling powerless. So how do you help empower them to take control of their curriculum? This tool will help you evaluate your current progress and come up with strategies to help your teachers take control of their curriculum.


Professional learning communities
 
For Principals
mentor principal 4

Do you know what the most positive impact is on teacher retention? Collaboration with other teachers. You can foster this in your school by setting up professional learning communities that support colleageality and collaboration for various needs and purposes. This resource will give you four key strategies for setting up professional learning communities.


Assessing school beliefs about time
 
For Principals
teacher

You know you want to set up professional learning communities in your school, but are your teachers on board? How do they feel about allocating time to learning themselves? Some may have positive attitudes about time and others may not. Assessing your staff's feelings about time can be a critical first step in employing professional learning community systems in your school. This tool will ask you questions to help you identify positive and negative attitudes toward time.


Finding time to support profesional learning communities
 
For Principals

As the saying goes, there are only so many hours in a day. So how do you go about making time for professional learning communities? This tool outlines 6 ways to find MORE time, and free up your teachers to focus on improving their teaching - and less time on administrative tasks. Everyone will benefit by being able to focus on important tasks - not just the urgent ones, which is key for advancing the entire school.


Starting and sustaining the work
 
For Principals
mentor principal 3

There are six critical skill areas a teacher must work on developing in his or her first three years of teaching. Beginning teacher study groups can help facilitate development of these skills. This tool for starting and sustaining group work outlines five steps that can help you help beginning teachers become more effective.



Teachers need assistance, empowerment and vision to help them succeed at all levels. ASSIST brings you those tools, targeted right towards you whether you're a beginning teacher, a mentor teacher or a principal.

Sincerely,


The ASSIST Team
Michigan State University


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