In conjunction with the Department of Human Resources, Cooperating Teacher Workshops were held for the elementary and secondary teaching staff. The goal of the workshops is to provide an overview of the role and responsibilities a cooperating teacher assumes in guiding future educators as they prepare to teach all children.
The B.E.S.T. (Building Excellent Start to Teaching) New Teacher Program
This program is the district’s new teacher induction program. With the support of all departments the following assistance was delivered to all K-12 newly hired teachers this year.
Teacher induction involves a comprehensive program of mentoring, training and professional development for all teachers. The first few weeks to the start of the school year can be hectic and overwhelming for new teachers to the District. Induction programs are designed to assist the new teachers to the field of education from “students of teaching to teachers of students” (Moskowitz & Stephens, 1997). The programs introduce teachers to District policies, important curricular strategies and most importantly, the culture of teaching in an urban school district.
The New Teacher Institute is an integral beginning for the success of the new teaching staff. It commences with a highly structured three-day professional development plan for all new teachers in early August, before school begins.
Day 1 focuses on classroom management, culturally responsive teaching and professional dress code guidelines. Teachers spend a half day in their assigned buildings for a site-based orientation facilitated by the principal and building support staff.
Days 2 and 3 address the first days of school, classroom management, instructional strategies, assessment requirements, working with parents, and meeting individual learner needs. One full day is partnered with curriculum supervisors and elementary curriculum consultants to review the curriculum and best instructional practices. The primary focus of the three days is on classroom management and working with a diverse student population.
All new teachers to the Omaha Public Schools participated in the New Teacher Fall Orientation. An effort was made to introduce these individuals to the District leadership staff and offer valuable insight into the Mission and Aims of the District.
The first day includes inspiring reflections from a first and third year teacher along with a professional ethics review by the Nebraska Department of Education. During this day, the teachers view the community in action on a community bus tour. The teachers travel throughout the community by designated zones to observe and learn in order to collect information to use in lessons or activities with students. .
On the second day, teachers have the opportunity to meet with building administrators and support staff. Time is provided for classroom preparation.
New Teacher Winter Orientation
In January, the School District hires approximately 40 new teachers. For those new teachers hired in January, a "streamlined" initial induction session is conducted.
The Early Start Program is a part of the Extended Learning Title I Summer School Program. It is in collaboration with Staff Development. The primary goal of the program is to help new teachers become acclimated with the district. The program offers new teachers an opportunity to focus on building positive relationships with the students, staff and parents within the community of which they will work. Teachers are actively engaged in the implementation of the curriculum for which they will teach during the summer program as well as in the fall. Some of the opportunities allotted were:
The district’s formal mentor program provides opportunities for veteran teachers to work collaboratively with new teachers. This one-year program provides training for both mentors and mentees.
At each school new teachers are paired with mentor teachers, who offer guidance and assistance during the first year of teaching. Mentor teachers are paid for their services. The new teacher's particular needs, grade level, and assignment, as well as the location of the new teacher's classroom, are all considered in matching mentors with new teachers. These mentor teachers, selected for their excellence in teaching, receive training in mentoring.