Education - Page 5 - Teaching the teachers

- Page 5
Teaching the teachers
Educational programs become specialized

By Linda L. Esterson, Contributing Writer

As education requirements continue to change, the challenges teachers face expand accordingly. The demands with changing curricula and testing methods can weigh on even the most tenured teachers. But the challenges are magnified even more for first-year teachers, who must manage a plethora of tasks in addition to lesson planning for the first time.

To help with the grueling first year, Stevenson University offers a Beginning Teacher Community programthat matches recent grads in the teaching industry with those who have more experience to provide guidance. The group meets monthly, at a minimum, and it provides a safe space to share successes and challenges, says Beth Kobett, Ed.D., associate professor in the school of education at Stevenson University.

The voluntary program, offered since 2014, aims to address the nationwide 50 percent dropout rate for teachers with less than five years in the classroom, a figure released as part of a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Richard Ingersoll.

Kelsie Rites, a 2013 Stevenson University graduate, helped with the group’s implementation and she continues service as a mentor, offering strategies for dealing with difficult situations and providing support. She and other mentors work to focus on highlighting positive situations and success stories.

“I think it’s a really good group for first-year teachers and even those of us who have taught for multiple years,” says Rites, who begins her sixth year in the classroom this fall.

The group gives teachers a chance to reflect on how they handled a situation with a student, discuss how they helped a student, built a relationship with a student and what they did in the classroom to lead up to that successful moment, she explains.

Although teachers also share situations that may not be as successful and discuss ups and downs, all leave on a positive note.

“By the time everyone leaves the group, everyone leaves with a smile and is stress free,” she says. “They look forward to the next day to impact their students and what they can do to make their students successful.”

Sessions usually last 90 minutes, but can continue beyond two hours. The group averages 20 teachers each session, and meets at the Greenspring campus, with snacks provided, and without judgment.

“It’s not just us giving suggestions and feedback; it’s give and take,” she explains. “We’re learning from them and they’re learning from us.”

Rites, who teaches elementary school in Montgomery County, earned a master’s degree from Towson University as a Teacher as Leader in Autism Spectrum Disorder. In one session at Stevenson, she assisted a young teacher in strategizing to help his student understand social clues in the classroom. Together, they brainstormed strategies to implement in the classroom and discussed what he had already tried. Their dialogue continued beyond the group and they check in periodically to share additional tactics.

“The education we’re providing isn’t over (once they graduate),” Kobett says. “We still care …and want them to be successful.”

McDaniel College in Westminster also boasts a strong education program. Six of the 2018-19 Maryland Teachers of the Year have ties to McDaniel, and they have emphasis in varying areas.

Five of the six teachers earned master’s degrees from McDaniel College. McDaniel’s master’s degree in curriculum and instruction prepares teacher leaders, with advanced courses in analyzing, developing curriculum, pedagogy (different instructional techniques and using instructional technology). This includes theories of practice, educational trends and policy, says Daria Buese, Ph.D., associate dean of graduate and professional studies and off-campus programs, and acting coordinator of graduate programs in curriculum and instruction.

The program, offered to teachers in all disciplines and grade levels, provides a good theoretical foundation in curriculum and assessment, enabling them to apply tactics in the classroom in a variety of situations. Required coursework topics include assessments, analyzing and developing curriculum, analyzing and developing assessments, and trends and issues in curriculum and instruction.

Some students have returned to school for a master’s degree or advanced certificate to become better teachers,while others aim to achieve another position in the educational system like administrator, guidance counselor or librarian.

McDaniel’s undergraduate education program also proves varied, with 15 different emphasis areas offered including in English, mathematics, sciences, social studies, arts, languages, computer science and elementary education, first offered as a major last year.

“Our strong content departments like art, music, history and French, give content background that teachers need in the classroom,” says Margaret Trader, Ph.D., chair of the undergraduate education department.“We provide teaching tools that couple with the content area.”

To teach at the secondary level, students major in specific subjects like mathematics or English and minor in education, as specified by the Maryland State Department of Education to earn a teaching certificate.

“We don’t want teachers to know less about biology than biologists,” Trader explains.

McDaniel’s undergraduates find themselves in the classroom earlier than with other programs. As soon as their sophomore year, they can undergo professional development in Carroll County schools and be mentored by seasoned teachers in their classrooms, Trader adds.

While teachers have earned degrees in subject areas to ensure their expertise, a program at the University of Maryland aims to help them better communicate with students who have difficulty

Teachers, continued on page 9

Career opportunities for education degree graduates

(Requirements Vary)
• Assistant principal
• Principal
• Supervisor
• Subject matter supervisor
• Supervisor of curriculum and instruction K-12
• Teacher leadership (coaching/mentoring, instructional technology) through instructional and curricular expertise developed in the program.
• Curriculum design
• Staff development
• Assessment
• School building leadership
• Certified elementary school teacher
• Certified secondary school teacher in secondary biology, chemistry, English, mathematics, physics and social studies
• Certified teacher in PreK-12 art, music or physical education, French, German and Spanish
• Teaching at the college level
• Staff and administrator positions in higher education
• Writers and editors

Source – McDaniel College

PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Above left: Participants in the beginning Teacher Community program are (left to right) Beth Kobett, Ed.D., associate professor in the school of education at Stevenson University, Katie Madigan, who teaches at the Odyssey school, and Kelsie Rites, who teaches elementary school in Montgomery County and serves as a mentor.