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Working with beginning teachers to foster their professional learning

Effective communication is the heart of any productive working relationship. You will want to get off to a good start with the beginning teacher with whom you will be working.

Throughout the year you will work to build a professional relationship based on trust and mutual respect. The goal of many of your interactions will be to help the beginning teacher explore and analyze his or her own thinking.

As an experienced teacher, your first impulse might be to immediately share what you know with the beginning teacher. At times this may be appropriate, such as when you are providing basic information to the teacher or when the situation requires an immediate clear-cut answer.

However, in doing so you may miss out on excellent opportunities for the beginning teacher to learn. Think about what you might accomplish by helping the new teacher to see better what is going on in her or his classroom. Consider, for example, several observation techniques that could be starters for conversations.

By using techniques such as paraphrasing and reflective questioning in your discussions and working together on authentic tasks, you will be giving the beginning teacher opportunities to learn to “think like a teacher."

References

Caccia, P. (1999) Linguistic coaching: Helping beginning teachers. In A better beginning: Supporting and mentoring new teachers. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Costa, A.L. and Garmston, R. J. (1994). Cognitive coaching: A foundation for Renaissance schools. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon.

Lee, G. V., & Barnett, B. G. (1994) Using reflective questioning to promote collaborative dialogue. Journal of Staff Development, 15(1), 16-21.