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Norton Teachers Association Newsletter Winter 2020

President's Message

Welcome to Our Newest Members!

Congratulations! You’ve made it through the first part of the year. During the first few years of being an educator, teacher or paraprofessional, it can feel like you’re on a never-ending roller coaster ride. Around every corner is a new twist or turn. It can feel incredibly exciting and invigorating, like when you see the first “light bulb” moment with a challenging student. Or it can feel isolating and uncertain, like when you stay up late questioning yourself about the quality of your teaching strategies and skills.

Every educator travels through this winding path of ups and downs, highs and lows, successes and challenges. While each of you are having your own unique experiences, you are not alone in this. The other members in your building are here for you! Do not hesitate to reach out for guidance.

For our teachers, you have a wonderful mentoring program to lean on. Our two district mentor coordinators, Sarah Alves and Marc Libertore, bring expertise, compassion, and understanding to the next level. They can answer any questions or concerns you have. You also have your building lead mentor whom can offer guidance and feedback as well as identifying resources that may be available to you within the building or district. And, of course, you have your mentor whom can be a confidante, listener, and an advocate for you while you’re learning your new role. Take advantage of the ability to observe your mentor or other content area educators! This feedback will prove valuable to you throughout your first educational experience.

To our paraprofessionals, we are continuing to fight and advocate for you to have this same mentoring experience as teachers. While we develop what this may look like in the hopeful not-so-distant future, please do not feel alone! The job of the paraprofessional has been changing at an alarming rate. Your list of responsibilities seems endless at times and you’re tasked with juggling knowledge of student IEP’s, behavioral and teaching strategies, and academic content. Reach out to the other paraprofessionals in the program you work in or building for ideas and strategies. Ask the teachers you are working with how you can best support them and the students. Part of our role is to help you understand and feel a part of our community. Let us know how we can do that for you!

This year we have a new MTA sponsored position of New Member Liaison. Jennifer Farley from JCS has agreed to take on this new role! Currently she is working on developing a welcoming plan for all incoming members, as well as bringing trainings to Norton such as Loan Forgiveness and Paraprofessional Rights. Please click the link to participate in a quick survey regarding trainings you would be interested in! https://forms.gle/BNk2KB7VdFiL5RDd6

Also, we want to celebrate all of you! Open to ALL NTA members, veteran and newbies, teachers and paras, we want to have an afternoon out together. One more survey, please click on this link to let us know where you would be interested in joining us for a New Member Celebration sometime this Spring! https://forms.gle/yJ9zJSs8ismrBh46A

I want you to know we have several ways to reach out and support all educators here in Norton. We have built an amazing community of educators and I am incredibly proud of the work that is being done for the students. Whatever you need, please ask! We may not know the answer or have the perfect solution, but we can do better together.

In Solidarity,

Shannon

Vice President's Message

As we begin 2020 together, let’s make it a positive year for all of our Norton Educators. A simple thing we can do? Give each other a pep talk!

We all know the myriad of challenges faced by educators, so I’m not going to outline them here. I am simply going to say that we are doing a great job. We need to believe this, because I don’t think we are hearing it enough. This year, I have been feeling a bit defeated. I’ve had to remind myself that I’m a good teacher and that I’m doing my best. In conversations with colleagues, I’ve found that they, too, need reminders that we know what we are doing. That we are professionals. This year, I have spoken both new and veteran teachers who are questioning themselves, doubting themselves and their own experience, education, and degrees. I’ve seen teachers reduced to tears of frustration and doubt. At the same time, I’ve heard administration ask us to do better, be more rigorous, and increase student performance. Of course, this is a valid request. However, it’s made me think a lot about reflective practice and professional judgment.

Reflective practice can be traced back to John Dewey, who said “We do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience.” I know all of us can agree that teachers need to be reflective. Reflecting about your work as a teacher means thinking about your teaching practice; asking yourself what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. What materials are you using? What is their value? It means analyzing how you taught a lesson or topic and how your practice might be improved or changed. And, as you know, it means differentiating all of those for the little humans (not robots) in your classrooms. Reflective teachers are open to new ideas and curriculum. They embrace change and are willing to try new things. They teach with rigor and have high standards. I don’t think there is a teacher in our district who can’t agree that this is important.

Reflective teachers must, then, support administration when it asks us to adjust our practice by implementing new curriculum or directives. It is our job to implement what our district asks and do so with fidelity and within a reasonable timeframe. That is part of our job. As reflective teachers, we in turn, should reflect on what works and what doesn’t and be able to share this information with our leaders. The problem arises when our opinions are not heard and we begin to feel as though our voice doesn’t matter. That’s when, for many, self-doubt creeps in. So my question is, as reflective educators, when are we allowed to rely on our professional teacher judgement? As teachers, we have the education, training and experience that provide the expertise necessary to understand the needs of our classroom and of each individual student. When do we get to decide what is working and not working or what our students need on that day and at that time?

Unfortunately, the message I’ve been receiving this year is that too many teachers do not feel trusted and do not feel they are looked upon as highly educated experts. Educator and blogger Steven Singer writes in his article Are Teachers Allowed to Think for Themselves?,“If we trusted teachers to do their jobs, they would be empowered to accomplish more. And I don’t mean blind trust. I don’t mean closing our eyes and letting teachers do whatever they want unimpeded, unadvised and unappraised. I mean letting teachers do the work in the full light of day with observation by trained professionals that know the same pedagogy, history and psychology we do – trained administrators who are or were recently teachers, themselves.”

I am hoping that Norton teachers and administrators can work together to create a culture where teachers feel valued, treated as professionals, and embrace reflective teaching. In the meantime, you’re doing a fabulous job!

Events

Norton High School

June 12-13, 2020

  • Form a Team
  • Volunteer
  • Light a Candle
  • Hang Out & Enjoy the Festivities

Contact: Tanya Benoit (NMS) or Mary Bennett (HAY)

Search: Relay For Life Greater Attleboro

Go to: Join the Relay!

Daffodils are Coming!

Announcements

Josie from the STEPOut program at NHS and her boyfriend Nick got engaged on New Years!

Congratulations Josie and Nick!

Credits:

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