New Teachers Prepare for Students, First Day
For about 450 new teachers in the Anne Arundel County Public School system, classes started on Monday to help them face their very first classrooms.
Andrea Zamora vividly remembers her first day as a new third-grade teacher in Baltimore.
"I was very excited. I'd even gone in extra days to get my room ready," Zamora said.
The first day finally came and third-grade students shuffled into the school. The principal welcomed everyone back, and suddenly, 34 pairs of eyes were staring at her.
"I opened my mouth to speak, but nothing came out," Zamora said. "I was standing there frozen in the front of the room."
Her impersonation of a statue lasted only a few moments, and Zamora said it could have been worse. She recalled a teacher who passed out.
"She had been holding her breath she was so nervous," Zamora said. "When she opened her mouth to speak, she went down."
Zamora, who is now the director of professional growth and development for Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS), laughs about her experience as a new teacher. But she hopes to prevent it from happening to new teachers in Anne Arundel County.
That's why she helps coordinate the county's new teacher mentorship program called Right Start. It lasts three years and guides new hires from their first day up until they apply for tenure.
This year's program kicked off Monday at Arundel High in Gambrills with approximately 450 people—more than half of which have less than one year's worth of teaching experience. This week's focus is on getting classrooms set up, making sure new hires know their co-workers and helping to soothe any first day jitters.
Throughout the year, the new teachers will attend two Saturday symposiums and dozens of after-school seminars, said Right Start's manager Andrea Mucci. New teachers are always "nervous, excited, filled with anticipation and loaded with idealism."
They could use the guidance of an experienced hand, which is where Mucci said the Right Start advisers come in. She described the advisers as teachers' teachers. Each adviser gets a group of new teachers from the grade level or school level they taught. Their job is to help new teachers avoid some of the mistakes and pitfalls made by people new to the profession.
On Monday, Right Start adviser Krista Cardneas went over some tips for elementary school teachers. She discussed time management, classroom control and how to organize the mountain of school supplies kids bring with them the first day.
She asked her class to notice that she greeted them at the door and had an assignment waiting for them on the first day. She asked them to think about how she got them moving around the classroom and used smaller groups as ice breakers.
Cardneas said all these things help new teachers develop that crucial game plan for the first day. This is her first year as an adviser, and Cardneas said she is excited to be able to provide a friendly ear or offer advice to her group.
"It can be nerve-racking going in. They throw you in the water and it's kind of sink or swim," Cardneas said. "The advisers are like a life jacket."