How to Support Beginning Teachers
Last week, Arthur Morgan School welcomed eight new staff members into our community. Some of them are artists. Others are gardeners. Some of them have backgrounds in education. For others, AMS will be their first time teaching. We are excited for the variety of talents and experiences each of them will bring and we look forward to the ways they will inspire and mentor our middle schoolers. First though, they need to understand what it means to be an AMS staff member.
Over the summer our returning staff thought long and hard about how to support beginning teachers. With that goal in mind, they designed our staff orientation. For the next three weeks, new and old staff members will come together to plan and prepare for the school year ahead . We will sit in organizational meetings that will ensure every job, big or small, is covered. We will place students in their boarding houses and assign each of them an academic advisor. It’s not all organization work though. We also train ourselves on how to be best teachers and care providers our students need.
Training Teachers for Progressive Education
As a school dedicated to offering progressive education, we prioritize the social and emotional development of our students. While they are learning algebra, they are also learning how to be engaged and conscientious members of a community. They learn how to express themselves and communicate their passions and viewpoints. Creating a environment that fosters these skills takes deliberate effort. Middle schoolers need to feel safe before they are willing to risk showing their true selves to the world. They need to know they will be accepted and understood by the adults that are mentoring them. At staff orientation, we are ensure our teachers are ready to do just that.
Both new and returning staff members attend workshops on communication, diversity, equity and inclusion, and understanding middle schooler’s mental health. We will talk about how to support students when they are having a hard time and how to set up our classes so that students feel safe to speak up. In addition to preparing our physical spaces to inspire and keep students safe, we are also creating emotional spaces that will ensure they can be themselves.
Getting to Know our Students
We also take the time to get to know each of students individually. With only 29 middle schoolers, AMS has the distinctive ability to highlight each of its students. We talk about our personal interactions with each of them and discuss how we can best support them in the year ahead. It guarantees that every student receives individualized mentorship and that all their unique strengths and quirks are celebrated.
In two weeks, students will return to AMS. They will be excited as they meet the new staff who will help guide and teach them this year. And thanks to our staff orientation, our staff will be ready for them.
-by Nicholas Maldonado