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Teach Like a Champion in Warren

Mia Bivaletz

Monday, August 25, 2014 • 9:05pm

WARREN, NJ - While there has been activity throughout the summer in each Warren Township school, the Warren Middle School parking lot was even more full during the week of August 17. In addition to many returning teachers busily setting up their classrooms, the district hosted its annual New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP).
A fixture in the district for over 15 years, the NTIP was created to help staff get acclimated to the school community, and have access to important information prior to the beginning of the school year. Together, Principal of Angelo L. Tomaso School, Kathy Bond, and Principal of Mt. Horeb School, Scott Cook, organized a comprehensive and engaging program.
 
Made up of teachers, paraprofessionals and CST members, the group began with the introduction of the entire Administrative team. “The NTIP embodies the district’s brand in that we have selected highly qualified professionals, who value the educational process, and strive not only to meet, but to exceed expectations. I am confident that our new staff members will benefit from the collaboration and support of the Administrators and returning staff,” said Dr. Tami Crader, Superintendent of Schools.
 
Various icebreakers eased introductions, created a positive climate, and encouraged conversation. Then it was off to tour the community of Warren Township, as each school building and different residential areas were pointed out. Based upon the NTIP agenda, new hires learned about updated legislation such as anti-bullying and HIB law. “As Warren Township Schools’ staff, we must be vigilant; we are the eyes and ears, ensuring the safety of all children,” said Cook. Staff  learned about special services offered, as well as policies and procedures. There were training sessions in the area of technology, as well as presentations made by the Curriculum Department.
Two valuable resources were Charlotte Danielson’s Enhancing Professional Practice and Harry and Rosemary Wong’s The First Days of School. Danielson’s text focuses on the observation model the district adopted, and the rubric which outlines instructional theories and applications that Warren Township Schools believe exemplify best practice. The Wongs’ book offers a wealth of tried and true routines to assist with expectations, classroom management, and lesson design. Striving to strike a balance between information sharing and interactive activities, Bond and Cook allowed new staff to work in groups; first they explored strategies from Teach Like a Champion, and afterwards presented lessons to their new colleagues.
 
“Year after year, I most enjoy seeing the camaraderie build amongst the new staff,” said Bond who has been co-facilitor of the NTIP since its inception. “I also find the mentoring component to be quite beneficial.” It increases staff confidence and assists in providing the support vital to retaining high performing teachers.  Mentors are carefully matched, and their experience, as well as feedback, is crucial for success. They work with their mentorees all year long to identify elements of effective teaching practice. Visiting their mentorees’ classrooms, they provide advice and suggestions, all the while fostering the spirit of collaboration and collegiality. Additionally, the mentorees meet monthly with the NTIP leaders to share, learn, and grow.
 
The district leadership worked together to organize an invaluable event, during which new staff felt the warm Warren welcome and became part of the Warren Township Schools’ team. The students of Warren Township begin classes on September 4. Just as they are ready to learn, their teachers, both new and veteran staff, have done the same this summer as true role models of lifelong learning.
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