Maywood & Hillside, IL...The 21 new teachers at Proviso East High School and Proviso West High School are getting extra support as they continue through their first year in their new jobs, thanks to a new teacher support group.
The support group began this year as a way to help teachers new to the district and new to the teaching profession in general, adapt to the school environment, said Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209.
"I wanted to make sure that we were providing adequate support for our teachers who are new to the profession and new to the district," she said. "We wanted to provide an opportunity for them to get together and share ideas about issues they may be facing and what they need to be successful."
The group first met on August 29, with plans to meet once a month in a location rotated among Proviso East High School, Proviso West High School, and Proviso Math and Science Academy to help familiarize the teachers with all of the District’s facilities. Facilitated by Mr. Dan Johnson, administrator for special projects for the district, the voluntary program allows the new teachers to ask questions and discuss issues in a "safe" environment. They also receive information and strategies about upcoming events such as Back to School Night and parent-teacher conferences.
The new teachers also have been reading a book, "The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher" by Harry Wong and Rosemary Wong, which covers topics such as classroom management, student achievement, and teacher effectiveness. In addition, the attendees at the meetings have chances to win door prizes donated by area businesses.
Dr. Collins-Hart said that the group, which meets again on Thursday, September 19, is also designed to bring the new teachers closer together.
"It’s to give them a chance to develop some professional relationships with other teachers who are new," she said.
Ms. Micaela Soto, an ELL social studies teacher at Proviso East, previously had taught at Thornton Fractional South High School and had been working as a bilingual aide at Proviso East since 2009. She said that the group has been a great way to get to know the new teachers and work with teachers outside of her own content area.
"We shared our highs and lows from the first two weeks at the first meeting, discussed our concerns, and received prizes," Ms. Soto said. "It was a small group in an informal setting, so I felt really comfortable."
Mrs. Devon Harris, a special education teacher at Proviso West, said that the group sounded like a good place for her to meet with fellow teachers and administrators.
"This group has been very rewarding and it allows for new teachers to come together to communicate concerns and highlight notable interactions with the students and staff," Mrs. Harris said. "Having a new teacher support group is instrumental in motivating and instructing our staff into a positive direction, where they can learn to build relationships and respect within the school environment."