9/25/18 School board discusses teacher support

School board discusses teacher support
School board discusses teacher support program
By Jessica Williams, The Times-News 9/25/18    
Reprinted with permission.      

ABSS isn’t throwing new teachers to the wolves.

The Monday, Sept. 24, meeting of the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education involved a lot of discussion about how schools are working to support teachers in their first three years — convenient considering the room was filled with Elon University education majors.

The Elon class came to observe the meeting, which included a presentation on the ABSS Beginning Teacher Support program from Director of Teacher Recruitment and Induction Dean Richardson.

Richardson told the board that each new teacher is assigned a mentor (a more experienced teacher that is, if possible, teaching the same curriculum) and also receives support from a lead mentor as well as the principal.

They are observed at least four times per year for the first three years, and are required to attend at least three professional development workshops of their choosing on top of the required professional development that occurs before their first school year starts.

Board members expressed concern over the fact that teachers aren’t being compensated for time spent at professional development workshops, which are scheduled after the school day ends.

Richardson said he would look into that.

Teacher turnover is at its highest for teachers in the first three years of their career.

With the hiring pool dwindling, school systems have buckled down on providing more support for teachers during that time so they’re more likely to stay.

For added effect, board member Mark Payne, a graduate of Elon who taught band for over 30 years, gave the crowd of Elon students a pep talk before the meeting concluded.

“I just want to let you know — heartfelt — that there are a lot of different ways to make a living. There really are. It’s amazing ... but there are not very many livings where you can truly make a difference,” Payne said. “And there are not very many livings where you can change the world. And there are not very many livings that will keep you young, and if you’re teaching kids you’re going to stay young.”

His recommendation to them was to get out into the schools and observe current teachers as much as they can. And when they’re ready to teach for ABSS, he said, the school system will be ready to support them.

“For [board member Steve Van Pelt] and I both, the mentoring process, the beginning teacher process, was not very well thought out. It was kind of like, ‘Well, here are your keys. See you at the end of the year.’ That was my mentoring. ... But, for you, we’re ready. We’re ready to bring you on board and we’re ready to help you become great teachers,” Payne said.