High school mascots, a marching band and administrators greeted 190 new teachers who walked through the doors of the performing arts center July 25 at Valley Vista High School in Surprise.
Event organizer Alanna Eimers, the district’s 21st Century specialist, said the idea of this format for event came about from utilizing the 21st Century Model of personalized learning they also practice with students
“How a person learns varies based on what work for them and looking at the pace and how quickly or slowly someone goes through material and lastly the path and looking at how and where they want to learn,” Ms. Eimers explained. “It was really about figuring out how we can combine that experience into knowing some teachers are coming in brand new from college, some are still in college in a dual program, some have little classroom teaching experience and some have 30 years.”
She said when new teachers come in, there are a lot of need-to-knows and a lot of nice-to-knows.
Teachers must know curriculum, discipline policies and things like how to deal with bullying, as well as creating a positive culture in the classrooms.
Ms. Eimers said they created online modules through the Schoology platform, by which each teacher mapped out their needs individually.
This meant each team completed the same goals, but each went about it in a different way. Feedback from teachers new to the district have communicated shows they accepted the process of welcoming and getting them ready to get started.
Some have established connections, which will benefit them outside of the classroom, including places to live, shop and eat for those teachers new to Arizona. Sonoran Heights 7th grade teacher LaKieta Moreau was a substitute teacher with Dysart for two years and this past January came into a teaching contract.
She took part in new teacher orientation day and said the event is what makes her feel like more than just a warm body at the district.
“I think the new teacher orientation program is personally setting people up for success and I’ve heard throughout my practicum hours Dysart possible wasn’t a good place for new teachers, but my experience has been the opposite,” Ms. Moreau explained. “The 21st Century specialists talk me through strategies and are here for me when I need them and ready to help. They come into my classroom and give advice on what they think you can change, but don’t tell me what to do. They come in on my request and it’s me asking for help and ways to improve and that’s been tremendously helpful.”
Ms. Moreau chose the Dysart school district as a second career after retiring from the Air Force. She lives in the community and understands how important it is to have the support. Having monthly meetings for new teachers shows her she is so much more to the district.
“To have new teachers all together who see me tired and trained and can let me know there are here for me and give positive feedback has been the biggest thing for me,” Ms. Moreau said. “I know I am not alone and we can walk together and that wouldn’t be possible without things like this.”
Ms. Moreau said it can be difficult for new teachers to speak up about an issue they may be having because they may appear as though they can’t handle it, but she said the 21st Century Specialists like Ms. Eimers show her you don’t have to know everything and can learn it.