Martin Leigh

Leigh Martin is executive director of field and clinical partnerships and outreach for Clemson’s College of Education.
Image Credit: Clemson University

Clemson’s College of Education will begin a series of professional development seminars for new teachers on October 13 at Pickens County Career and Technology Center. The series, Perfecting Your Roar, will consist of four sessions over the 2018-2019 school year and be geared toward first-year and early-career teachers.

The sessions’ primary goals are to address knowledge gaps often experienced by teachers new to the classroom and provide a venue for new teachers to meet and help one another by sharing knowledge and experience. According to Leigh Martin, executive director of field and clinical partnerships and outreach for the college, the sessions are an efficient way to address the needs of partner districts, recent graduates of the College of Education and any other teacher interested in professional development.

“A significant number of teachers are leaving the profession early for a myriad of reasons, and many of those reasons are entirely preventable,” Martin said. “These sessions will act as a helping hand or a refresher for teachers who get into the profession and realize they might need a little more development in a certain area of the classroom.”

Martin envisions Perfecting Your Roar as complementary to the mentoring efforts already underway in upstate school districts, and the college has taken great care to keep it from becoming redundant with teachers. She has spent the last year and a half attending school district mentoring meetings in order to learn what topics are covered so that Clemson’s sessions can focus on other topics.

Martin has also polled members of the advisory board of the college’s office of field and clinical partnerships and outreach. Members from Anderson, Pickens, Oconee and Greenville school districts on the board outlined areas in which their first-year teachers often seek further help or development.

Martin said that when she compares the feedback Clemson gets from its graduates with feedback obtained by districts, there is often overlap in the types of professional development requested. Martin said this communication with districts has been invaluable not just for the feedback related to first-year teachers, but for its potential to help the College of Education meet is goals to serve the schools and communities across the state.

“Seeing where we all can improve is a great sign that Clemson and school districts are on the same page concerning how to improve how we teach the next generation of educators,” Martin said. “It gives us the road map to adjust our own curriculum so that the deficiencies don’t exist in the future.”

George J. Petersen, founding dean of the College of Education, said the idea for Perfecting Your Roar evolved naturally from conversations he had with Martin about professional development for alumni. He said the sessions will act as an extra shot of motivation for first-year teachers who are only a few months into a new profession.

Petersen said Perfecting Your Roar aligns with the college’s mission to address teacher attrition in the state, but it also fulfills the basic need first-year teachers have to get out of the classroom and connect with other teachers in a similar position. Classroom challenges can seem less daunting when teachers see they’re not alone.

“It’s entirely natural for everything not to ‘click’ right away with first-year teachers, and it can be difficult to take the theoretical and make it practical,” Petersen said. “Perfecting Your Roar is a seamless method for both our college and school districts to work together to ease that transition for teachers.”

The October 13 session will be held from 9 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at the Pickens County Career and Technology Center at 990 Chastain Road in Liberty. Michael Fleming, retired principal, of the McKissick Academy of Science and Technology will share information on classroom management, organization skills, time management and prioritizing.

Giveaways for first meeting include two tickets to the Clemson-Duke football game, two tickets to the Clemson-NC State game, a football signed by Coach Dabo Swinney, and other assorted Clemson- or education-themed merchandise.

Future sessions include:

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2018
Time:  9 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Location: Wren High School, 905 Wren School Road, Piedmont
Topic: Recognizing students’ mental health concerns
Speaker: Liz Wittebort, coordinator of family services, Anderson School District One

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2019
Time: 9 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Location: West Market School of Early Childhood, 1909 Dobbins Bridge Road, Anderson
Topics: Teaching with technology, instructional strategies
Speakers: Melanie Hahn, digital integration specialist, Robert Anderson Middle School, and Elinor Lister, teacher and district teacher of the year, Glenview Middle School, Anderson School District Five

SATURDAY, APRIL 27, 2019
Time:
 9 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Location: Greenville County Schools’ Central Office, 301 Camperdown Way, Greenville

Topic and Speaker TBD