Celebrating Our FWSU First-Year Teachers

Last week about 20 teachers who were “new” just 10 short months ago joined their mentors, FWSU Mentor Coordinators, and administrators to celebrate their first year. The event took place at the Grace Farm October Barn in Fairfax.

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Teachers had time to catch up with each other, their mentors, and various school personnel who joined us to share the highlights of a long day, the newly warm weeks, and most importantly, their first year.

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Superintendent Ned Kirsch and Director of Curriculum Linda Keating welcomed everyone and thanked them for choosing FWSU and for their service to our students. Psychologist Joelle van Lent was the featured speaker. Dr. van Lent brought this group of teachers full circle to reflect on such an important year in their teaching lives. She was the featured speaker in August, supporting our new teachers along with the FWSU Mentoring Program in building “communities of resilience.” Her work then centered around fostering resilience of students. For this celebration, she focused on the resilience of the teacher.

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Dr. van Lent shared many factors that can promote the resilience of teachers and lead to greater satisfaction. Some of those factors are resourcefulness; having vision, goals, and purpose; humor; optimism and hope; flexibility; and an open mind. These factors resonated with our teachers, along with two other critical factors that new teachers consistently report that their mentors provide: social support and an active approach to problem-solving.

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Dr. van Lent also urged the group to focus on the positive aspects of their identity as teachers who work diligently to meet the diverse needs of all learners. She stressed the importance of taking a deliberate pause to reflect on their dedication and service to students, the comfort of collegial support, and most especially, pride in the talents and resources that they each bring to the job.

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And true-to-form in her understanding of teachers, it was fitting that Dr. van Lent would leave this group with a new set of ABCs for resilience: Awareness, Balance, and Connection.

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The celebration culminated with awarding certificates of participation and appreciation for the new teachers and their mentors, as well as our three Program Coordinators: Amy Rider, Melinda Carpenter, and Emily DiGiulio. In addition, all teachers in attendance received a copy of Mindfulness for Teachers: Simple Skills for Peace and Productivity in the Classroom by Patricia A. Jennings, a perfect read for some well-earned relaxation time this summer.

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