Friday, July 11, 2008

Welcome New Teachers!

Once again it is time for Summer Orientation for "New to Chets" teachers. This year is a little different than other years because for the first time in many years, we have a more seasoned group of "new" teachers. Of the five "new" teachers, two are returning to Chets Creek from the "mommy track" - both have previous experience teaching kindergarten and first grade at Chets Creek. Two are transferring to Chets from other Duval County schools and one is a first year teacher but did her internship at Chets Creek. As always there is no money to pay these teachers for their time, but they are usually anxious to get a feel for their new home, so they never seem to mind. This year, as in every year, they seem genuinely excited for a peek into their new assignments and new colleagues.

Susan Phillips, the Principal, begins with an entire day of getting to know the new teachers. 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. This year's overview was shortened in respect to the experience of this group.

After the day of "getting to know you," the teachers are invited to the Principal's home for an evening social with the Leadership Team. The group enjoyed dinner and fellowship together and this year, Media Specialist KK Cherney was skyped (using a video conferencing feature) into the meeting!! The group was then given a demonstration of Second Life, which is a 3-D virtual world that some of the Leadership Team learned about at a recent technology conference. What a hoot! The evening ended with a game of "tell us one thing nobody in the room knows about you!" What was told at Susan's house, stays at Susan's house!

All of this fun and fellowship provides the new teacher with the essential elements of knowing other new teachers as her own cohort and also getting to know teacher leaders, but it also reiterates for the new teachers the important part that relationships play in the culture at Chets Creek. We work hard, but we play hard. We depend on each other. We like each other.

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