Many veteran teachers remember their first year in the classroom as difficult, often overwhelming, and sometimes lonely. In its strategic plan, the Tuscaloosa City Schools established an entry-year program that pairs beginning teachers and teachers new to our district with veteran, mentor teachers. This program provides orientation to the school and district, mentoring, and ongoing professional learning in areas such as planning, organizing the classroom for instruction, effective instructional strategies for all types of learners and assessments.
At Rock Quarry Elementary, there are 9 new teachers paired with veteran mentors. The teams meet monthly and have a calendar of suggested activities for each month. At this time of year, they are reviewing end of semester procedures, schedule changes and holiday celebration policies. At Rock Quarry, we also provide opportunities for new teachers to observe in veteran classrooms.
Mrs. Jockisch, principal of Rock Quarry, felt that having a framework for mentoring new teachers insures that all new teachers in our building are on the same page.
New teachers and mentors are required to meet monthly and the veteran teachers report progress. In addition, new teachers have system meetings and also meet with Dr. Daria to discuss the successes and challenges of their new jobs. All of these activities are designed to ensure that new teachers are supported and that our school system will have caring, committed teachers who recognize the complex and challenging nature of classroom teaching.
New to our school, but not a new teacher, Lauren Pilsch and Patricia Ford, veteran, both Kindergarten teachers, make up one of our Rock Quarry Elementary teams. They've been working together since August. Of Mrs. Pilsch, Ford says, "I love Ms. Pilsch's positive attitude and eagerness to implement effective teaching strategies. She is energetic, enthusiastic and it is evident that she loves teaching."