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Classroom Success

01/19/2011

New teachers in Berkshire County who instruct grades K-12 are participating in a free induction program designed to assist them with organizing a successful academic year with their students.

MCLA's New Teacher Induction (NTI) Program was developed out of the Superintendent Roundtables. Funded by the districts, it provides new teachers with support to ensure their success in the classroom through a combination of face-to-face and online workshops led by experienced educators, administrators and MCLA faculty.

Organized by Berkshire Readiness Center Coordinator Doug McNally, who oversees the NTI Program, the workshops include elements key to the teaching experience, according to Cynthia Brown, MCLA's vice president of academic affairs.

"The program is also designed to give the number of contact hours that new teachers need under the induction rules around Massachusetts teacher licensure," Brown explained. "It's something all new teachers are supposed to be doing. It's not something that every district has been able to organize to this level of detail."

Previously, individual school districts had planned their own induction programs. However, the smaller districts had limited numbers of new teachers and fewer resources on their own.

The monthly workshops are free. However, the teachers who wish start work toward a graduate degree can register through MCLA to earn credits at their own expense. MCLA faculty members oversee the optional graduate credit part of the experience and plan together with the NTI coordinator.

Nearly 40 teachers from across Berkshire County are taking part in this year's inaugural program. The group includes a few teachers who have taught for a year or two, and several teaching veterans who wanted to participate out of professional interest.

According to Brown, it's an investment of the teachers' time that is well worth the effort.

The workshops offer a real value to individual teachers, she said. "And, they've got a group of people who are like them and, for the most part, are teaching for the first time. They can become a support group that can be ongoing, long after the induction workshops and activities are over."

She expects the greatest benefit of the program will be the creation of a community of people who can become a great resource to one another as they go forward in their teaching careers.

According to McNally, the program's curriculum provides a survival guide for new teachers.

"It covers everything from regulations to resources. It touches on parental interactions and student assessment. It also provides an opportunity for new teachers to realize they are not alone in their first year struggles, as they share their stories of their ups and downs," McNally said.

While the teachers became acquainted with their home districts in August, in September they focused on classroom management, meeting in elementary and secondary cohorts. The final workshop of the year will take place in May at one of the county's cultural venues, where teachers will discover ways to use community resources in their teaching.

To learn more about MCLA's New Teacher Induction program, contact the Office of Admissions at 413-662-5410.