Almost 13,000 teachers are heading back to school today, a week ahead of students. For first-time teachers this can be a nerve-racking moment, which is why the Beginning Teacher Summer Academy (BTSA) has become a critical program to help them get started.
Hawaii State Department of Education's (HIDOE) Teacher Induction Center hosts the BTSA. The two-day academy provides first and second year teachers with training on classroom management; rules, routines and procedures; communicating with families; class and school culture; designing instruction; and more. There was also an academy specifically designed for special education teachers that provided training into the unique challenges faced by those educators.
"When we started the academies in 2014, we reached 90 new teachers on Oahu," said Keri Shimomoto, educational specialist. "We are thrilled that we were able to localize the academies this year allowing for more new teachers to attend and the ability to address the needs specific to each island that the complex areas are in. This summer there were more than 200 teachers attending."
For the last three years, the BTSA has used the summer to help new teachers transition into the teaching profession. This year, the sessions were held on Hawaii Island, Maui, Oahu and Lanai.
Participating teachers praise the program for the networking opportunities and providing tools necessary to help students.
A first year elementary teacher stated, "I feel that I am now ready to create a nurturing classroom environment and community as I learn how to arrange my classroom and get to know my students. The session exceeded my expectations and helped me become more confident as a teacher."
The BTSA is built upon researched-based principles for teacher onboarding, mentoring and coaching in order to enhance teacher effectiveness, reduce teacher turnover and improve student achievement.
The program is sponsored in part by HIDOE's community partner Matson Foundation whose funding helped provide all new teachers with The First Year Teacher's Survival Guide, additional classroom resources, refreshments and lunch. Matson also sponsored neighbor island travel for mentors to support with facilitation.
"Matson's interest in supporting Hawaii's public schools starts with its teachers, and so for several years we have funded efforts to develop talented teachers for our schools. Our increased funding this year supports the department's statewide program to equip our newest teachers with several days of orientation and connections with experienced mentors who can help them navigate challenges that any new job presents," said Matt Cox, chairman and CEO, Matson.
For more information about HIDOE's teacher induction and mentoring program, click here.