Susan Phillips, the Principal, begins with an entire day of getting to know the new residents herself. She gives them a tour of the facilities, but she also gives them a tour of the school's philosophy, its rituals and routines, its traditions, and its rich history. She explains why there is an urgency to our teaching, our data story, what it means to be immersed in standards-based education, and what it means to thrive in a collaborative professional learning community. Each new teacher is given a copy of Roland Barths' Improving Schools from Within, the same book that all teachers at Chets have studied, to help them understand the process of genuine collaboration. All of this sets the schema for the next two days when teachers are divided and given an overview of their grade level and subject area. Grade level information includes, among other things, Non-negotiables written by the new grade level of what they all agree to do this next year. Teachers are then divided by subject areas and given an overview of Readers' and Writers' Workshop and/or Math and Science Workshop by the coaches who will support them throughout the next year. These sessions include general information about the Workshop model, Pacing Guides, information about grade-level homework, common assessments, progress monitoring information, resources including professional books that teachers are expected to read, and a wealth of information on getting through the first 30 days. Since we know that teachers often find classroom management one of the most difficult parts of initial teaching, time is also allocated to explain our school-wide behavior plan with suggestions for individualization. The three days end with an evening social at the Principal's home because our bottom line belief is that "it's all about relationships" - relationships with our students but also relationships with each other. The new teachers and their mentors are invited to join with the Leadership Team for dinner, fun and games - lots of fun and laughter! All of this provides the new teacher with the essential elements of knowing other new teachers as her own cohort, but also the players on her grade level and subject teams and the people in Leadership who will be the scaffolding her experiences as a new year begins.
This cohort of new teachers will meet throughout the next year to provide the support they need to make their first year one of their best years! Here's to the 2007 new cohort of teachers at Chets Creek (pictured above). Here! Here!