Along with many students who will step into a new school next week, 15 teachers new to the Webster City Community School District are preparing for the school year.
On Thursday, those new teachers met at the Webster City Schools Administration Building for orientation. Linda Williams, district director of curriculum, said the new teachers were introduced to the logistics of the school system, the schools philosophy being a Professional Learning Community, (PLC), opportunities through the district such as professional development, grading and assessments and much more.
New not only to the recently hired teachers this year is the one-to-one technology initiative in the district. Williams said the teachers were given an overview about the program and how it will be implemented and how they will be trained to use the iPads.
The new teachers were also placed into the teacher induction program. Through the program, Williams said first year teachers are paired with a mentor who work with them for two years on classroom management, instruction, strategies and general advice.
"With any problems that a new teacher might encounter, they can go to their mentor for answers. If they can't provide them, they can go further into administration for it," Williams said.
After lunch with the new teachers, their mentors and several administrative faculty, Mindy Mossman, Pleasant View Elementary principal, discussed PBIS, Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports with those at orientation. Mossman said the big idea behind it is positive reinforcement.
"We make sure we have a clear set of expectations and everyone teaches everything up front," Mossman said. "We no longer say 'don't run,' we say 'please walk.' Everything is positive."
Teachers in the district are taught to point out that positive behavior in students in every level of school. Mossman said that teachers teach the classroom expectations, but there are also school-wide expectations for students. Mossman said one specific area of trouble can be the bathrooms. In accordance with PBIS, she said students are taught to "Go, Flush, Wash and Leave." A short phrase like that, according to Mossman, can be repeated by any school staff member to keep trouble to a minimum.
"It's positive and reminding them of the expectation. Yelling doesn't do any good," Mossman said.
New teachers were also given a tour of the district facilities and the town. Weaving through ongoing construction at Pleasant View Elementary and Sunset Heights Elementary, the teachers were shown where several of their classrooms are and where district resources can be accessed. Teachers were also given brief tours of Webster City High School, Iowa Central Community College, and Webster City Middle School. Packed onto a bus, they were also driven by many points of local interest from Van Diest Medical Center to the local Post Office.
Orientation continued after the tour, with teachers going to their respective buildings to visit with administration. Today, Williams said teachers will continue the conversation on grading in the district and will be further instructed on technological resources in their schools.