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Life-Long Learners: Inside Scoop on the First Month of School from New Mapleton Teachers
This school year, Mapleton Public Schools welcomed more than 70 new teachers to the district. The return to in-person learning brought a refreshing sense of optimism and hope for the year ahead. Within the first month of school, it became clear that with the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic, strong support systems, engaging lesson plans, and a focus on building relationships were essential for the long-term success of our new teachers.
For many, the first few weeks of school are a time to go over the syllabus and define classroom expectations and rules. New Trailside Academy teacher, Blake Parker, took a different approach. To build stronger relationships with all his students, Mr. Parker had them start the year by writing about themselves and participating in icebreaker games. This start, paired with social activities in class, has helped Mr. Parker grow a deeper connection to his students in his first month.
"Relationships are everything and if the students don’t respect you, or don’t want to listen to you, or don’t have a connection with you, it’s going to make it very difficult to teach them anything,” Parker said.
Mr. Parker is the new K-8 Technology teacher at Trailside Academy, a completely new position following last year's heightened exposure to new technologies. Before the year began, Parker researched curriculum standards and joined several Facebook teacher groups to immerse him in the tech-teaching scene. Parker's students are learning beginner-level coding, typing and participate in technology club during lunch.
Creating a safe place for students to learn, grow, and realize their potential takes dedicated, passionate, and helpful people in your corner. In that same vein, many new teachers lean on the support of veteran teachers for advice in the first month of school. By placing relationships at the forefront of our work, we’re able to offer safe, family-like environments of relentless support for students and teachers alike.
"I've learned that having one specific person to support me, bounce ideas off of, and decompress with has helped me a lot,” Parker said about his mentor, Ms. Lacivita. “It’s a lot to learn and it can get overwhelming, so it helps to have a second set of eyes looking at what I’m doing.”
One of the biggest challenges facing new teachers is learning who their students are, creating fun learning experiences, and increasing student motivation.
Director of Teaching and Learning Services Allyson Mallory explains. “Planning sets a solid foundation for student's and teacher's day, and while this can be time-consuming at times, it allows space for teachers to be creative in designing learning experiences that spark our students' interest.”
For newly hired Welby Community School music teacher, Ryan Gonzales, planning was a means to inspiring a love of music for his students.
“Today, we’re learning about composers,” Gonzales explained after his first day as a full-time music teacher. “I’ve incorporated dance breaks and social breaks during class to keep students engaged.”
Gonzales was offered the full-time music teacher position in September after long-term subbing. He and his wife moved to Colorado this past summer and now both work in the district.
"Planning for cognitive and engaging lessons for all students allows for multiple entry points into the learning and increases student motivation while decreases off-task behaviors," Mallory explains about what new teachers should focus on. "It's an intricate puzzle in which educators need to think critically and creatively to put all the pieces together."
As new teachers quickly realize, it’s crucial to learn to be flexible and continue to be learners themselves. From new safety updates to changes in job descriptions, teaching must be fluid to meet the needs of students.
"It’s been fun to think back to how I was feeling on day one compared to now, and recognize that although it’s been challenging in a lot of ways, I am more than capable of surviving & thriving in this profession," Alex Buck says about his first year teaching at York International. "Entering the school year, I was admittedly pretty terrified—this is my first year as a licensed teacher and prepping for the year felt overwhelming. While this year has indeed been stressful, I do feel like I’ve grown a ton, just in the past five and a half weeks of school."
This ability to adapt, paired with positivity and empathy creates a resourceful community working together to ensure that no obstacles impede student success. We are so thankful to have new teachers in our buildings with a shared goal of helping students achieve their dreams!
How did our new teachers learn about Mapleton Public Schools?
- 30 new teachers learned about Mapleton from another Mapleton employee.
- 35 new teachers learned about Mapleton from the district’s website.
- Other new teachers learned about Mapleton from job fairs, from student teaching positions, and from other job-search tools.
New teachers site reputation and location as the two things that attracted them to Mapleton the most!