Hear from educators benefiting from Clemson’s professional development sessions aimed at new teachers
Clemson’s College of Education began a series of professional development seminars, Perfecting Your Roar, aimed at new teachers late last year. 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.
The final session of this academic year is coming up on April 27, so we took the opportunity to speak to two teachers about what they’ve gotten from these sessions. Brianna Rae is a Winthrop University alumna and first-year math teacher at T.L. Hanna High School in Anderson, and Amy Hudson is a Clemson alumna with a degree in microbiology who is serving as a first-year biology teacher at Woodmont High School.
How did you hear about Perfecting Your Roar? What were your initial thoughts on the program?
Brianna: I heard about Perfecting Your Roar from the coordinator for first-year teachers at our district office. She forwards all announcements to us. I initially thought this was an awesome program for Clemson to offer teachers in the surrounding areas. I wish I could have gone to the first two because the one that I went to was awesome!
When did you first attend and how many sessions have you attended?
Brianna: The only session I attended was on Feb. 23, and now I am definitely planning on attending the one in April.
Amy: I have attended all three sessions offered so far, and I intend to be at the final session at the end of April.
Why did you attend Perfecting Your Roar?
Brianna: I attended Perfecting Your Roar because I want to be a better teacher. I understand that while I have strengths, I also have weaknesses. There is so much to learn about being the best teacher I can be, so I want to take advantage of every opportunity to reach this goal.
Amy: I am trying to get as much information as possible to make up for not attending four-year college to teach. My teaching training includes Teacher Cadets, PACE training, following Edutopia, being raised by a teacher and reading anything I can find on education in books or online.
How have the sessions been helpful for you?
Brianna: The session I went to specifically worked with my school district and how Anderson 5 implements technology. While I have attended a lot of professional development for the district about technology implementation, it was much more helpful to work hands-on with this technology in a small group environment. I feel like I retained so much information in such a small amount of time.
Can you give a concrete example of something you took from the sessions and applied in your classroom?
Brianna: I was able to pull ideas from other content areas to incorporate into my geometry classes. For example, Elinor Lister, the district teacher of the year from Anderson 5, shared a vocabulary game that she would play with her students called Tic-Tac-Toe Vocabulary, and I have already planned to implement that into my next unit of geometry, which is heavy in vocabulary.
It is a foreign concept for many geometry students to have to study vocabulary for mathematics. I believe implementing vocabulary strategies like this will help them better understand it and better understand vocabulary’s importance.
Amy: I have been using more technology in my classroom thanks to the sessions. I intend to get a 3D printer or 3D pens for 3D modeling of biology topics, and I was glad to get to experiment with these items in the last session.
The mental health session increased my empathy, and influenced me to have some new go-to questions for students who are acting out or out of their normal behaviors. Learning some basic questions that allow students to share as much as they are comfortable sharing can really help. I know I cannot be 100 percent aware of what my students are going through, but I try my best to let them know that I’m in their corner.
Classroom management training with Michael Fleming was by far the best training I have ever attended! I would like to attend more trainings by him in particular, to get more ideas for how to keep students engaged with lessons through various instructional strategies.
Are there any particular topics you would like to see Perfecting Your Roar cover in the future?
Brianna: I am planning to attend the last Perfecting Your Roar in April, and I would like for a session to be focused on student engagement. This is such a controversial topic in education right now, and I would like to see Clemson’s stance on it as well as their advice on how to tackle the “apathy problem” we find in some students.
Amy: I would love to see more future sessions on behavior management strategies and something geared specifically toward working with adopted or foster children would be great. I also think it might be effective to hold sessions that pair us with other teachers who teach similar subjects from other schools. Suggested readings that would help us outside of these sessions would also be great.
I love my job, and I know every day that this is where I am supposed to be. But teaching is a real challenge, and it certainly takes more knowledge than any one person can gain on their own, so these sessions have been really great so far and I would love to attend more in the future.
The final Perfecting Your Roar session will be held Saturday, April 27 at Anderson School District Four District Office Board Room from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. The topics of the final session are classroom learning environments and working with diverse learners. The session will feature Valerie Ayers, instructional coach at Pendleton High School, and Jerry Williamson, a Spanish teacher from Pendleton High School. The office is located at 315 E Queen Street in Pendleton. For more information, contact Leigh Martin (firstname.lastname@example.org, 864-656-5115).