Black Gold Regional Division No. 18 welcomes new teachers
Students will return after the long weekend, but class was in session on August 23rd for new teachers.
Black Gold Regional Division No. 18, or BGRD, hosted its annual Beginning Teacher Workshop – an orientation for teachers who are new to the Division. This year, approximately 20 teachers opened their books to absorb a range of information they will need for their time in the Division: from details on payroll and benefits to suggestions on classroom management and the importance of building strong relationships with students and fellow staff.
“We want our staff’s focus to be on how they can best meet the needs of the children with whom they are working … with what they learn at the workshop, staff members will be better equipped to support students,“ says Division Principal Norm Dargis.
Dargis and Calvin Monty, the Division’s Associate Superintendent of Human Resources, organize the annual workshop. With nearly six decades of combined teaching experience, the two are a wealth of knowledge. They share that knowledge alongside a handful of presenters to provide guidance to the new teachers. “They get a great feel of Black Gold’s family environment and caring culture,” says Monty, “it also provides an opportunity to both explain what is expected of them and share the values we live by at BGRD.”
One of the Division’s values most evident at the Beginning Teacher Workshop – relationships. Throughout all the activities and interaction at the workshop, the teachers establish important connections and start to create a network. Kelsey Somerville, a first-year teacher about to begin her career at Caledonia Park School, met a colleague who is also headed there. For Somerville, that is invaluable. “It’s nice to see familiar faces and get to know other people that are doing this for the first time,” she says, “just even coming out with one person that you can kind of talk to and share resources with and have a communication line with.”
While the workshop provides the opportunity for the teachers to begin informally building their network, it doesn’t end there. The formal network-building is facilitated by BGRD: the Division has three Curriculum Coaches who will meet regularly with the new teachers throughout their first year to provide mentorship, support, and collaborative opportunities as the teachers ease into their surroundings.
“Providing coaches for our teachers is a long term investment in our students and communities,” says Terri Reid, BGRD’s Learning Services Coordinator. Reid works with the Curriculum Coaches to determine how best to help each teacher. “Research tells us that when we provide support to first year teachers, they not only become better teachers, but they stay in the profession and often in the same school jurisdiction.”
And, it’s for that reason that BGRD maintains supports for its teachers throughout their time in the Division. Curriculum Coaches support all classroom teachers in the areas of curriculum, instruction and assessment. They meet with teachers one-on-one, often before or after school, during time free from instruction, or even weekends to provide individualized counsel. And, they facilitate collaborative opportunities among teachers for more engaging lessons and assessments.
For new teachers like Somerville, it’s reassurance that she will have the help she needs when she needs it. “It’s really good knowing the coaches are there… that gave me some comfort in that I don’t need to go to my principal or to somebody in the school just to ask simple questions.”