California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II
“Teachers join the profession hoping to inspire students, but their training doesn’t fully prepare them for the realities of the classroom. What’s more, the lifelines administrators provide to new hires aren’t always reliable. Most veteran teachers mandated by state or local officials to serve as mentors are not given time or money to provide more than a cursory orientation to their new peers. Cast adrift to sink or swim, many first-year educators quickly lose confidence or grow disillusioned, then quit. One-third of new teachers leave the profession within three years, and nearly half are gone within five years.”1
Most teachers want and need direct support in implementing standards-based instruction, especially with the changes associated with the adoption and implementation of California's Common Core State Standards. According to the original Taking Center Stage, good middle grades teachers are masters at capturing the attention of young adolescents and delivering a high-interest, youth-centered curriculum based on standards. Staffing middle grades schools with caring, competent, teachers who understand standards-based learning takes a special commitment by districts. The skills and strategies to manage classrooms, maximize instructional time, and plan and deliver engaging, lively, youth-focused, standards-based instruction require ongoing professional development that includes coaching and collaborative work. These skills and traits should be the hallmarks of a standards-based school.2
The Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) (Outside Source), program is cosponsored by the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). It provides professional development for newly credentialed, beginning teachers to help them fulfill the requirements for the California Clear Multiple- and Single-Subjects Credentials. However, the issue of teacher preparation for the middle grades remains unsolved. In California, there is no middle grades teacher certification, and new principals and new teachers need orientation to the learning needs of young adolescents, middle grades standards, and effective practice at the middle grades level.
The New Teacher Center (NTC) (Outside Source), at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is working with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) (Outside Source), to develop a program for a clear credential for the middle grades. In addition, the NTC offers a variety of professional development opportunities for educators who support beginning teachers.
Richard Henry Dana Middle School, Wiseburn Elementary School District, a 2006 Schools to Watch™-Taking Center Stage 2006 Model School and a California Middle Grades Partnership Network school
The district elected to enhance the practice of beginning teachers by pairing them with a consulting teacher by using the Peer Assistance and Review Program. Like each school in the district, Dana now has several teachers who have volunteered (and received training) to support new teachers as they come into the school system and during certain times such as parent conferences, testing, and preparing report cards. Veteran teachers provide the support during grade-level release days.
Knowing how to implement standards-based lessons that engage special education students, English learners, average learners, and gifted students requires high levels of skill. Veteran teachers on a teaching team play a critical role in helping newer teachers understand how to differentiate instruction without lowering expectations. The U.S. Department of Education’s Survival Guide for New Teachers (Outside Source), provides new teachers with many suggestions about how to work with veteran teachers, principals, parents, and institutions of higher education.
Olive Peirce Middle School, Ramona City Unified School District, a California Middle Grades Partnership Network School
PLC members engage in peer coaching and observing as TIPS (Teacher Induction Program for Success) team members.
Professional Learning for Teachers
Ongoing professional learning for teacher satisfaction and retention
1 Denise Kersten, “Watch Over Me,” Teacher Magazine, Vol. 17, Issue 04 (January 1, 2006), 9-10.
2 Taking Center Stage. Sacramento, California Department of Education, 2001, 26.
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California Department of Education
1430 N Street
Sacramento, CA 95814