New Teacher Reflections by TeacherReady Teacher Kelly Vollmer

 In Professional Development

What’s the problem with new teachers?

“Nearly half of all beginning teachers will leave their classrooms within five years, only to be replaced by another fresh-faced educator” Phillips told nprEd. When asked “What can schools specifically do to address the problem of teacher turnover,” scholar Richard Ingersoll says:

“Induction’ is often used for beginning teachers in the first couple years… It can mean having a mentor for instance… [or] freeing up time for the beginning teacher so that they can meet with other colleagues. And learn from them. And compare notes. And try to develop some kind of coherence of curriculum”

. In the interview, Ingersoll concludes by summarizing the research findings of the impact of induction programs:

Help beginning teachers’ classroom teaching practice;

Help beginning teachers’ retention; and

Student achievement was better for those beginning teachers in induction programs.

We share this interview as a “call to action,” a need for us as school leaders and teacher-leaders and teacher educators to establish opportunities for learning and development that will help these new teachers be successful. This is our value statement in TeacherReady®, the University of West Florida’s educator preparation institute; that is, we provide a support-focused learning environment for aspiring teachers where they can continuously learn, apply, and achieve so that students in their classrooms (and future classrooms) are learning.

We asked one of our TeacherReady teachers, alumni Kelly Vollmer (October 2012), to reflect on the TeacherReady experience leading to professional teaching certification. Below, Ms. Vollmer shares about how one of the teaching strategies she learned, scaffolding instruction, helped to improve student learning and student ownership.

Vollmer, Kelly

I enrolled in TeacherReady to earn my English 6-12 certification while I was working as an adjunct instructor at a community college, and the lessons I learned through the program immediately improved the quality of my instruction. The most significant change I saw came with the implementation of scaffolding and formative assessment into my lesson planning… I found myself struggling to address the broad range of abilities, interests, and responsibilities (or lack thereof) I was encountering from my students.

How did scaffolding instruction improve student learning?

Teaching them skills in smaller pieces allowed them to focus their attention on developing each smaller step and to build upon them confidently.

By the time my students had to write an essay in my class, they no longer looked at the assignment as an overwhelming task for which they may or may not have the prerequisite skills. Instead, they saw the essay as a series of smaller assignments they could piece together with confidence.

The result?

Implementing scaffolding and formative assessment made a world of a difference, and many of my best students were those who had entered my class with the least developed skill sets.

Ms. Vollmer went on to share that although TeacherReady “definitely helped [her] improve as a college instructor… [she] enrolled in the program… to teach at the secondary level.” Here’s more in her words:

I am thrilled that this fall I will begin my first year as a high school English teacher. As I prepare for the upcoming school year, I am making sure to review important lessons on the first day of school and classroom managements, as I know these will be essential to a successful year. I am also working to develop lesson plans well in advance, and I am excited that, since I will be teaching AP Literature and my mentor teacher taught AP Literature, I will be able to use many of the lesson plans I wrote for TeacherReady assignments for my class. While I know that this first year will be a learning experience for me, I also enter it confident that TeacherReady equipped me the skills I need to make it a success.

We hope that you connect with Ms. Vollmer’s experience. The teaching profession benefits from providing induction and mentoring to new teachers… and, more importantly, students benefit.

Thanks to Ms. Kelly Vollmer for sharing her experience with readers of Who’s Engaged? TeacherReady’s blog. We thank Kelly for choosing to teach and broadening the academic experiences of her students.


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