Original plan posted at Inquire Within. Modified below, including reflection and follow-up.
Learning takes place through inquiry.
Learning is most meaningful when the learners have choice in how they learn, as well as opportunities to wonder, explore and construct meaning for themselves.
This is why we chose to structure our new staff orientation in the form of an inquiry…
As part of a broader introduction to the PYP, our new teachers explored concept based learning, one of the essential elements of the PYP. They developed their understanding of the conceptual approach by using the PYP key concepts as a lens through which to generate questions about our school.
The next step was an inquiry, via which they had the opportunity to actively find out about their new school, rather than passively sit and listen to us ‘tell them stuff‘…
Each school has a unique culture, beliefs and approaches.
Suggested lines of inquiry:
- Cultural beliefs and values of our school
- Our learning principles
- The learning environment
- Roles and responsibilities within our school
- Our written curriculum
Participants worked in groups to select questions from those generated in the concept exercise and/or formulate new questions, based on what they felt they needed to know, before setting off to find answers that would help them learn about the school.
The following resources were at their disposal:
- The school environment
- The learning resource centre
- Members of the school community who were present to support, demonstrate, facilitate, encourage and respond to questions
- Access to curriculum documents
In truth, we had no idea how this would work out or to what degree it would be successful. But isn’t that how the best inquiries unfold?
It was gratifying to see the new teachers engaging informally with the principal, the head of primary, campus coordinators and other members of the staff who volunteered to participate.
At the end of two days of orientation (one an introduction to the PYP, the other an informal inquiry into our school) we asked each of our newest members of staff to sum up how they are now feeling in one word. They said they felt:
inspired, excited, reassured, welcome, safe, supported, motivated, energised, informed… and one said that the PYP at our school is ‘real’. (an interesting observation, which might provoke thinking…)
It sounds as if our approach was successful and we achieved our objectives:
- Understand what our school believes and values about learning.
- Begin to build relationships and feel part of our dynamic learning culture.
- Acquire the information required to start the year safely and successfully.
- An overview of the PYP in our particular context.
It was exciting for us to see how much our new teachers, with their broad range of educational and life experience, will bring to our school. We look forward to learning with them!
Read Anne knocks recent post, about her school’s plan for ‘onboarding’ new staff (perhaps we’ll borrow that term next year). What’s your school’s approach?
2 thoughts on “Orientation for new teachers…”
Summed up in one sentence: Wish I had experienced an orientation like this as a new teacher.
Welcome to our new teaching staff. Look forward to getting to know and learn with you.
Desiree Finestone Year 5 teacher
Our school runs a New Teacher Symposium to find teachers that are like minded before we hire them. This means sorting through resumes and having conversations with them. Directors, teachers, and parents all have the opportunity to participate in this and give their warm and cool feedback. Once those potential teachers are narrowed down, we hold a practicum session where all candidates teach a regular class that is open to all members of the school community to come and observe. Kids give warm and cool feedback that is spedific and helpful. Some candidates may be asked to return to participate in a different capacity such as participating in Professional development sessions.
Once a new teacher is brought on board, they are made to feel that they belong by giving them opporunity to lead a PD session, feeling safe to voice how they see something could be made better or done differently, and are given the tools they need to practice their craft. Support comes from all levels and all members of the community. So far it has worked pretty well and we revisit the format to make it better.