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Teachers in the community: CTEP Induction & Mentoring PD at Breakthrough FamilyPlex

During Carrie Conover’s teacher mood workshop, educators anxiously popped balloons to explain their specific moods and attitudes during the school day.

During Carrie Conover’s teacher mood workshop, educators anxiously popped balloons to explain their specific moods and attitudes during the school day.

Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline Induction & Mentoring hosted its third professional development workshop for the school year March 2. For Chicago Public Schools, March portends a long month of instruction with no days off. The anticipation for the late April spring break is enough to make anyone, teachers and students alike, anxious at their desk. With this in mind, the March professional development seminar was strategically planned to focus on self-care. Not for the students, but for teachers.

Self-care is important for teachers so that they can be happy and energized inside and out for their students. Illinois State graduates, along with their mentors, had the opportunity to receive tips and techniques to take better care of themselves by selecting two of the three workshops provided for them. Each workshop was 80 minutes long and took place at Breakthrough FamilyPlex, located in the East Garfield Park neighborhood. East Garfield Park is one of the five community partners with Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline. Breakthrough provides opportunities for our preservice and in-service teachers to learn more about the community, while serving the community as well.

In one of the workshops titled “Classroom Culture,” community scholar Asadah Kirkland focused on various interactive activities teachers can use with their students to create a community within the classroom and help teachers be more empathetic to student needs. One participant stated, “Asadah’s energy and passion made her ideas come through so clearly!”  Many participants felt her strategies were so engaging that they planned to implement these methods right away in their classrooms the following Monday morning.

The second workshop presented by Carrie Conover was titled “Teacher Mood and the Impact on the Classroom Environment.” Through her workshop, teachers were shown practical skills they can use to enhance their mood and change the energy in their classrooms, especially during the “hump day” part of the school year. Conover encouraged teachers to focus on themselves, even when their first inclination was to take the techniques and apply them to their students. The participating teachers appreciated the redirection back to prioritizing themselves versus what could be later used for their students.

The third and final workshop was presented by one of our mentors, Natalia Gomez. Her workshop, “Utilizing Yoga for Mindfulness in the Classroom,” introduced teachers to a multitude of ways they can quickly insert mindful and yoga practices into their classroom. One participant shared that she loved the examples that can be used in class.

As always, the teachers relished the information and strategies shared in the session, and wished for more time. Notably, many educators commented that these types of workshops came right on time during the school year with the long stretch of school days ahead in March.

Under the umbrella of the National Center for Urban Education, the Induction & Mentoring program is the last piece to the Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline. Upon graduating and being hired at a Chicago Public School, graduates have the opportunity to join the two-year long program at the beginning of their career.

In this program, the graduates have the opportunity to have the mentorship of a veteran teacher in their school building and receive professional development sessions based on topics they request. Their mentors are given the opportunity to be trained as efficient mentors and all receive Certified Professional Development Units (CPDUs) toward their teaching license and other perks to being in the program.

This professional development was also a great opportunity to showcase one of the partner schools within the collaborative communities. The work with communities and partner schools assist with the goal of creating community teachers through reciprocity and collaboration. The use of experts in the field of urban education in Chicago while at a community partner based organization showcases the National Center for Urban Education’s mission.

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