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Challenge 5. Lack of dialogue about instruction

Most beginning teachers come to their new settings from intense student teaching/intern experiences where instructional conversations were the norm. They long for action-oriented conversations about teaching that feature problem solving. When they do not have opportunities to talk with a mentor or colleagues about instruction, they can experience strong feelings of isolation. As a principal, there are a number of things you can do to stimulate professional conversations among new teachers and colleagues and at faculty meetings.

Options:

  • Ensure that beginning teachers are matched with mentors with strong knowledge of their curriculum.
  • Provide regular opportunities for new teachers to meet with mentors and grade-level or content area colleagues to discuss curriculum, instruction and assessment.
  • Use faculty meetings as venues for conversations about instruction.
  • Use carefully selected video as a stimulus for conversations about instruction.
  • Coach beginning teachers and other teachers to share successes at faculty meetings related to complex learning situations. Use such sharing as occasions to dialogue about instruction. When the staff is large, this can be done in small groups.
  • Encourage teachers to videotape or audiotape their teaching and to share analyses of these tapes at faculty, department or grade team meetings.