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Brand-new teachers bring a unique excitement and energy to a school, but they need support from school leaders to get off to a good start. An important part of a school leader’s work consists of ensuring that beginning teachers become reflective practitioners who seek continuous improvement. Helping beginning teachers become the most effective instructors possible requires specific supports. When provided effectively, these supports can make the difference between a teacher who will soon leave the field and one who enjoys their work, is more successful, and becomes a valuable part of the instructional team.

In recognition of the special support needed for beginning teachers, many states require professional development programs specifically for beginning teachers. The requirements generally lay out a program of mentoring and professional development that takes place during the first year or two of teaching. The requirements vary from state to state. In the Network for Educator Effectiveness’ home state of Missouri, the professional development for beginning teachers must contain materials and resources focused on the following topics:

  1. Classroom Environment
  2. Student Engagement and Motivation
  3. Professional Communication
  4. Education-Related Law

Missouri also requires that each beginning teacher be assigned a mentor teacher. The two meet regularly during the beginning teacher’s first two years. The mentor observes the new teacher and provides feedback, modeling, and coaching to support building a strong foundation of effective instructional skills.

Providing mentoring, building knowledge, and improving skills in key areas of effective instruction are essential for ensuring the success of beginning teachers. However, schools encounter the following challenges:

  • It can be difficult to schedule and expensive to provide substitute teachers as needed. 
  • Some teachers must travel a long distance to sessions, which is expensive and time-consuming.
  • Participation in some programs can be costly for the teacher or school.
  • The sessions may seem disconnected from the classroom.
  • It is difficult for the building administrator to provide follow-up on session topics.

To help schools overcome these difficulties, NEE created the Beginning Teacher Support Module, available in EdHub. The NEE Beginning Teacher Support Module is aligned with select NEE Indicators that focus on the foundational skills shared by effective teachers. The NEE Beginning Teacher Support Module is based on the following NEE Indicators:

  • NEE 1.2: The teacher cognitively engages students in the content.
  • NEE 5.1: The teacher uses motivation strategies that affectively engage students.
  • NEE 5.2: The teacher manages time, space, transitions, and activities.
  • NEE 6.1: The teacher uses effective verbal and nonverbal communication.
  • NEE 7.4: The teacher monitors the effect of instruction on the whole class and individual learning.
  • NEE 8.3: The teacher observes, promotes, and supports professional rights, responsibilities, and ethical practices.

Understanding how these instructional skills and strategies support student learning and becoming proficient in their use can be a powerful start in professional learning for any new teacher. The materials in the EdHub module serve as an introduction and overview of the topics to meet the immediate needs of the beginning teacher while other materials in the EdHub Library address the same topics in more depth.

There is one activity associated with each of the six indicators listed above. NEE intended that one activity would be completed each month from October through March. An administrator from the district serves as the facilitator to check on the quality and completion of each beginning teacher’s work. Each month, the beginning teacher completes one learning activity and creates a learning organizer for the associated task. The administrator reviews the teacher’s work and provides feedback if desired. Classroom observations and feedback conferences can easily be connected to the topic studied during the month. When all six activities have been completed, the administrator submits an online verification form for the teacher. NEE provides a certificate to be presented to the teacher and maintains a record of the teacher’s completion in case a copy is needed later.

NEE is currently developing a process and online tool to assist schools with peer- and self-observations. The new tool will aid in scheduling peer observations, collecting data during the observations, providing feedback to the participating teachers, and guiding the reflection and planning process. Beginning teachers can learn a great deal from observing their instruction through video recordings, sharing the videos with others, and participating in peer observations in their classrooms and in other classrooms. The NEE peer observation process walks the participating teachers through the essential elements of a successful system of peer observation including:

  • the pre-observation discussion
  • conducting an observation
  • the post-observation discussion and providing feedback
  • reflection
  • goal setting and planning for change

Regardless of whether your school district is in Missouri or another state, utilizing the NEE Beginning Teacher Support Module with your beginning teachers is a great way to start them down the path of professional growth. Call NEE at 844-793-4357 or email us at nee@missouri.edu for more information.

The Network for Educator Effectiveness (NEE) is a simple yet powerful comprehensive system for educator evaluation that helps educators grow, students learn, and schools improve. Developed by preK-12 practitioners and experts at the University of Missouri, NEE brings together classroom observation, student feedback, teacher curriculum planning, and professional development as measures of effectiveness in a secure online portal designed to promote educator growth and development.