E. What might my intern and I be doing in August and September?
The initial adjustment to the school is very important for the intern. You will need to take the lead in introducing the intern and making him/her feel welcome as a part of the classroom, your team, your school, and the entire school community. It would be very beneficial for you to take some time to identify what your expectations are for the intern as a significant partner in your classroom and to share those expectations, perhaps in writing, before the year begins. Some examples of the types of information you might include in your set of expectations are: the expected arrival time at school each day, the designated time each week when you and your intern will plan together, expectations for the interns' involvement when you are teaching, how to contact you in case of absence or illness, etc. As the school year begins, your intern will probably spend time helping you prepare the room for the first day of school. Additionally, your intern will be learning about how your school community functions, how teachers work together in your school, and what the rules, policies, and procedures are within your team, school, and district.
During "Jump Start" the interns briefly reviewed the district curriculum guides (i.e., The Social Studies Program Structure, The Language Arts Continuum/LAC, The Elementary Math and Technology Curriculum, and The Elementary Science Curriculum). However, the intern will need to sit down with you and become familiar with the curriculum in order to identify appropriate learning objectives around which lessons are to be constructed.
Before beginning school, take a moment to review the Penn State Teacher Education Conceptual Framework ("blue sheets"). These expected outcomes will help guide your work together. You and your intern will work together throughout the year to document growth in each of these competency areas and depict it on your intern's electronic portfolio. The framework serves as the foundation for your intern's Individual Intern Plan (I.I.P.). An I.I.P. is a plan that you, the PDA, and the intern develop gradually over the course of the year. The I.I.P. identifies the experiences that the intern has already had in your classroom as well as those activities that will be undertaken in the next several weeks. Like children in your classroom, each intern arrives at your classroom door with a unique set of strengths and needs. Your intern's work should be organized around those strengths and needs, and roles and responsibilities can be organized using the concept of an Individual Intern Plan.
As you begin the year, focus on finding vehicles for explicitly sharing your thinking about teaching with your intern. Because our classrooms are such busy places, deciding how you are going to accomplish this task is critical. One suggestion might be to devote time during a "special" each week to these types of discussions. However, you will have to decide what works best for you. Some other ideas for August include:
- Tour the building
- Meet other classroom teachers, specialists, and staff members
- Discuss confidentiality
- Review the SCASD teacher handbook
- Review policies and procedures
- Discuss philosophy of education/espoused platforms
- Review curriculum documents
- Review assessment cards
- Review student portfolios
- Review class lists and levels
- Review letter that was mailed to students
- Set up classroom and discuss rationale
- Plan for first week of school
During September your intern will also need to start observing in other classrooms and in special subjects. Please help your intern find a partner classroom - a teacher in a different grade level where the intern can observe frequently during the year and may eventually have some teaching involvement. It is often a good idea, but not necessary, to find a partner classroom where the teacher is not a mentor. Encouraging non-mentors to participate in the partner classroom activity helps to reinforce the idea that the PDS is a whole school activity and that there are multiple ways in which teachers can participate. You might also want to reflect on the experiences your intern has had so far in your room. At this point, generating a list of experiences will help you continue designing the intern's I.I.P. as well as provide the intern with some documentation for the e-Portfolio. For example, the list might include the following experiences: work with an individual student, lunch count, read aloud, spelling test, etc. Remember, the intern does not have a window into your thinking about your teaching unless you share it explicitly. Some other ideas for September include:
- Discuss the daily routine
- Discuss your expectations for what the intern should be doing while you are teaching
- Look for opportunities to get the intern involved in working with individuals or with small groups
- Introduce the intern to parents during "Back to School Night" as an integral part of the classroom. Give the intern an opportunity to say a few words to parents.
- Involve the intern in a few large group situations for which planning is not required
- Make sure that the intern has the opportunity to observe you working with children, e.g. guiding a literacy center, before doing it alone
- Help the intern find a partner classroom and begin observing
- Review curriculum documents
- Discuss division meeting involvement
- Discuss successful and unsuccessful instructional strategies
- Discuss classroom management strategies
- Discuss faculty meeting responsibilities
- Discuss building responsibilities
- Share your own planning process with your intern
- Discuss how your intern will assist you in daily lessons and activities for the month
- Discuss what your intern will look for when observing you and other teachers
- Establish common planning times
- Discuss methods course assignments
- Discuss your intern's initial attempts at developing the electronic portfolio