Page 1

issue Feb 2010

In This Issue: Parent Support Group Organized by First Year Teacher ACP Interns Sweep State Awards New Teacher Learning Path

ABRAZO Learning Communities Websites

Resource from the New Teacher Center New Teacher Conference Day The Principal: A Key to Beginning Teacher Success

Elementary 3-5 Elementary ESL/ Bilingual Early Childhood Classroom Management Secondary Science Secondary Language Arts Secondary Math Secondary Social Studies Secondary ESL Special Education Core Enrichment Research & Data Click Here to Access our Site.

Neff and ABRAZO staff interview

Parent Support Group Organized by First Year Teacher Monica Guerrero, a first year Special

Education Teacher at Neff Elementary School has organized a support group for the parents of her students. Intimate Portrait of a Special needs child Ms. Guerrero, who is recovering from surgery and was unable to join the interview, shared some valuable insights as she prepared and organized this initiative. “To make a difference in our child’s lives, we must take action. We as parents are the first educators of our children. To do so, a support group can keep us informed of how best to do so”, says Monica. As the idea of creating the group began to take shape, Ms. Guerrero collaborated with fellow first year teacher, Susan Ruzicki. Susan supported Monica’s effort and encouraged her to gather feedback from parents and other stakeholders. Susan’s Campus Based Mentor, Katrina Joseph, an experienced Special Education Teacher listened and suggested that the planning move forward. Neff’s Guidance Counselor, Christy Nieto was moved by Monica’s enthusiasm and passion for

© 2009 Houston Independent School District

taking on such a project. Christy responds by adding, “When a parent has a child with special needs and they see other parents not facing challenges, they sometimes feel inadequate. Parents are not alone and they are not bad parents.” Plans to expand the program Ms. Melany Ghelman the West Region’s parent engagement Coordinator praised the work of the Neff staff. Ms. Ghelman offers a unique perspective by saying, “This is not just a support group. We want our parents to learn and share.” Neff Elementary School located in the Sharpstown area has had a long history of parent support and engagement. Ms. Ghelman adds, “It is so important for parents to become involved with what we do to support the teaching and learning that takes place on this campus.” The Parent Support Group In building an inclusive and supportive campus culture Neff’s dynamic Principal Anita Lundvall, who has been an ABRAZO supporter for the past four years contrasts the Parent Support Group to the structured nature of an Admit – Review – Dismiss (A.R.D.). Continued on page 7 >>>

Page 02

Alternative Certification Program Interns Sweep State Awards HISD Alternative Certification Program graduates Kory Fontenot, Thayer Hutcheson, and Greg Jones (L-R) were named the Interns of the Year by the Texas Alternative Certification Association for 2009. Their achievement marked the second time in four years that HISD ACP graduates have swept the Intern of the Year field at the state level.

“We are very excited about the recognition our interns are receiving...”

Three fledgling educators who earned their

teaching stripes through HISD’s highly respected Alternative Certification Program were recognized for their proficiency and professionalism as teachers on October 19, when they were named the Interns of the Year by the Texas Alternative Certification Association (TACA). Greg Jones, a second-grade teacher at Jonathan Wainwright Elementary School; Kory Fontenot, who taught science at Walter Fondren Middle School; and Thayer Hutcheson, a life sciences teacher at Westside High School, were named the elementary-, middle-, and high-school Interns of the Year (respectively) during the Consortium of State Organizations for Texas Teacher Education’s annual conference in San Antonio. Each winner was presented with a commemorative plaque and a monetary award from TACA President Ron Kettler. Wainwright Elementary School Principal John Barrera described Jones as a teacher who “gives each day his very best to make sure students are getting the highest quality of education possible,” while Fondren Middle School Principal Brenda Rangel called Fontenot “an extraordinary teacher” who

instilled in his students an appetite for learning and provided them with challenges to think on their own. Paul Castro at Westside High School, meanwhile, described Hutcheson as a very effective instructional leader, noting that “if all teachers were as dedicated to their work (as she is), many of the challenges facing schools would be resolved.” The three winners join a long list of other HISD interns recognized at the state level for their accomplishments after completing their teacher training through the Alternative Certification Program, and 2009 marks the second time in four years that HISD has dominated the Intern of the Year field at the state level. In 2005, HISD ACP interns Gemma Guilatco Lacanlale, Jason Craig, and Kristi Jones won elementary-, middle-, and high-school honors at TACA, too, respectively. “We are very excited about the recognition our interns are receiving,” said ACP Manager Sharon Lekawski. “They are the best of the best. Their accomplishment not only validates the high quality of the interns who come from HISD, but the overall quality of the Alternative Certification Program.”

For more information go to

Page 03

New Teacher Learning Path Guides Orientation What is expected of a new teacher?

One of the major responsibilities of the ABRAZO

mentoring and induction program is to familiarize new teachers with the support systems that HISD has in place. As a result, ABRAZO Induction and Mentoring Program created the New Teacher Learning Path. This is a Learning Management System that allows teachers the opportunity to become acclimated to the language and culture of HISD. Andi Hampton, Academic Trainer and NTLP contact person for the ABRAZO initiative says, “The NTLP is an excellent way for teachers to learn about our district’s culture by logging in to the Network through the ASPIRE portal...”

Why is this Important?

Hampton went on to say that, “teachers have the freedom and luxury to access material 24 hours a day 7 days a week and from a variety of locations.” The NTLP is a virtual filing cabinet that allows teachers the opportunity to keep track of their professional development requirements.

“The NTLP is an excellent way for teachers to learn about our District’s culture...”

Here is the link to the portal. Just a click away! These are the steps to get to the NTLP 1. Log in to the HISD portal 2. Click on “My Aspire”

New Users

Your User Name is your HISD e-mail address Your Password is your five-digit HISD identification number plus the last four digits of your social security number

Return users Should follow the same procedures as above

3. Scroll Down Click My Learn under the Learn section 4. Click on Enroll in Learning if you have not enrolled (right side of screen) 5. Select Enroll in Learning Path 6. Click on the HISD New Teacher Learning Path Start Your ASPIRE-Learn New Teacher Learning Path (NTLP) 2009 -2010

Click here for more information >>>

Page 04

Resource from the New Teacher Center

New Teacher Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz

High Quality Mentoring & Induction Practices A resource for education leaders seeking to create and/or improve induction programs with practices that support teacher retention, teacher development, and improved student learning



Rigorous mentor selection based on qualities of an effective mentor Qualities may include: evidence of outstanding teaching practice, strong intra- and inter-personal skills, experience with adult learners, respect of peers, current knowledge of professional development.

Choosing mentors without criteria or an explicit process Without strong criteria and a rigorous selection process, there is a risk that mentors may be chosen based more on availability or seniority, rather than their qualifications to engage in meaningful interactions with beginning teachers.

Ongoing professional development and support for mentors Effective teachers don’t always know what it is about their teaching that is effective. Many mentors are also surprised to find that translating knowledge to students is not the same as translating knowledge to adults. High quality and ongoing training, as well as a professional learning community, are needed to help mentors develop the skills to identify and translate the elements of effective teaching to beginning teachers.

Insufficient professional development and support for mentors Without initial, and ongoing, high-quality training to support their development, mentors miss out on the guidance and professional community they need to support the developing practice of beginning teachers and address the challenges they face.

Sanctioned time for mentor-teacher interactions Mentors need sanctioned time to focus on beginning teacher development. Mentors and beginning teachers should have 1.25-2.5 hours per week to allow for the most rigorous mentoring activities. That time should be protected by teachers and administrators.

Meetings happen occasionally or ‘whenever the mentor and teacher are available’ Often both parties are so busy that meeting time gets relegated down the list of priorities. The short fragments of time that may be found are typically insufficient for fostering real relationships and growth.

Multi-year mentoring Mentoring should be intensive and ongoing (for at least two years) in order to improve teacher practice and consequently student achievement. NTC and other research suggest that most deep learning about instruction (through mentoring) happens during the second and third years of teaching.

Mentoring for first year teachers only One-year mentoring programs are great at providing the initial support first-year teachers need to survive but are insufficient to help teachers reach optimal effectiveness.

<<< Click Here for Entire Abstract & More

Page 05

ABRAZO New Teacher Conference Day “I’m a new teacher, and I have questions.”

Gail McGee and Xernona Edmond-Martin interact with Secondary Science Learning Community

In October, The ABRAZO New Teacher Induction,

Certification and Mentoring Program sponsored a Teacher Conference Day for approximately 290 first year teachers. “ABRAZO” is a Spanish word that means to embrace. The goal of ABRAZO is to provide quality support and on-going learning opportunities throughout the school year. Elementary and Secondary Teachers were given a wide range of session topics that provided them with relevant activities and instructional strategies, essential to the success of a first year teacher. Secondary Science Academic Trainer Xernona EdmondMartin added, “Our goal is to provide teachers with research based best instructional activities that they can take back to their classrooms for immediate implementation.” The Educational Research and Dissemination Team led by JoAnne Dawkins, Peggy Sinclair, Sybil Mason and Claudia Morales provided sessions at both locations. The First session centered around giving teachers techniques and strategies to set the most appropriate classroom environment for instruction while the second session focused on the essentials of developing Behavior Contracts. Sybil Mason added a valuable insight when she stated, “Behavior Contracts allow a new teacher to identify a student’s behavior and attach some consequences to those actions.” Often during new teachers first year of teaching classroom management is a major area of focus.

Sybil adds, “Teachers quickly learn that what works with one group of students, does not necessarily work well, with another.” In response to both elementary and secondary new teachers request to learn more from veteran teachers, an informative Question and Answer session was held for the teachers, at both locations. Rina Zucker, Instructional Coordinator from Ashford Elementary School along with Pooja Shroff, Teacher and Campus Lead Mentor from Roberts Elementary School, answered questions while sharing valuable insights for the Elementary teachers. In reflecting on the session, Pooja went on to say, “Overall I think things went really well and I have to say the Q&A was amazing!” Adding to that positive feedback, Rina commented, “ Actually, I stayed back during lunch to help a couple of teachers who just needed more questions answered than time permitted and they were most appreciative of the small setting and the ability to ask direct questions and receive immediate feedback.” Our secondary teachers who were attending sessions at Pin Oak Middle School heard from Teacher Coordinator, Damon Jasso from Ortiz Middle School.

The next ABRAZO New Teacher Conference Day will be February 13, 2010. See attachment

Page 6

The Principal: A Key to Beginning Teacher Success Coordinator


he principal has a key role in teacher induction. To close the achievement gap, it must be a top priority to create an environment where novice teachers are welcomed and nurtured to become successful. The New Teacher Center School Leadership Development Team works with administrators to create conditions that support teaching and learning. Supporting the success of beginning teachers may be the most significant contribution the principal makes—both for the present and future. New hires are part of the principal’s legacy, shaping the school’s culture and realizing the principal’s vision. Schools with policies that address beginning teacher needs are

key to both student growth and teacher retention. Principals have many opportunities to implement policies to support novice teachers. In placing teachers, principals must consider student needs first. Assigning beginning teachers to the most challenging classrooms (too often the case) causes frustration, self-doubt and burnout, thus perpetuating the revolving door. Placing the most talented teachers with the most challenging classes sends a clear message that in this school, learning is top priority. Principals must be sure that the beginning teacher has as optimal a teaching environment as possible. For example, a principal who sees to it that a new high school teacher has a single room and few preps, and

does everything possible to surround that teacher with nurturing and supportive colleagues, is investing in that teacher’s success. Ongoing induction meetings provide beginning teachers with a peer network while acclimating them to the school. A faculty handbook that is user friendly, up to date, and prioritizes key information can be invaluable. The principal is responsible for creating an inclusive and supportive culture, one that fosters inquiry and allows opportunity for learning and mutual support. Collaborative cultures where all members share, support, and problemsolve with each other build this kind of environment. In schools where novice teachers are respected for their knowledge of new teaching strategies and research


This graphic illustrates six components of


establish a school culture that welcomes, supports, and retains novice teachers.

– 6 –


of the principal is to


complex nature. An important role



its integrated and


principal. It emphasizes


the beginning teacher, mentor, and



relationship between


the inter-dependent



By Mike Heffner, NTC Outreach

I UN M M O #

findings, everyone benefits. Experienced teachers reaffirm themselves as lifelong learners, while new teachers feel valued. In California, and increasingly around the country, beginning teachers are working with induction mentors who support and expedite the beginning teacher’s development. A principal has a powerful opportunity to influence that work. The principal’s clear understanding and articulation of the value of the mentor’s role in induction is important. Sanctioned time for mentors and beginning teachers to meet is crucial. While the mentor teacher relationship is confidential, it is essential that the principal is part of the team. Brief monthly principal and mentor meetings sustain the three Cs—communication, collaboration and coordination. Principals can share school-wide goals and focus while the mentor can share formative assessment structures and tools. And appropriate meetings that include the beginning teacher offer opportunities to build the relationship between the principal and the beginning teacher. We know that it takes a community to grow and sustain high-quality teachers, and as the school leader, the principal can be a true instructional leader to play a key part in the induction of the newest members of a school. N

w w w. n e w t e a c h e r c e n t e r . o r g

Page 7

Continued from front page...

“Together, we will form a strong team to share, learn and support one another.” - Monica Guerrero

“Most of the time when we meet with parents in such a setting it’s around a conference table and the structure is formal.” The first part of the meeting is called “Circle Time.” Parents were given the opportunity to ask questions and share experiences. During one of the meetings Parents were shown the powerful story of Wilma Rudolph and how she overcame special challenges as a youngster on her way to becoming a world class athlete. During the second part of the meeting parents actually got some practical tips that support their efforts at home. As a result, one of the first offerings gave parents tips on how to label potential hazards. For example, labeling the electrical outlets in a home can be vital to keeping a youngster safe. Karan Shelton, one of the ABRAZO Full Time Mentors who provide professional development to both Monica and Susan by modeling lessons and providing research based instructional strategies responded to the value of this initiative, “It was very exciting to be a part of the collaboration and it clearly supports HISD’s position that parents are our partners. In response to this success, Karan has planned to develop additional modules to support the teaching and learning taking place at Neff. At one point during the conversation, Ms. Lundvall shared a story about one of her third grade special need students wanting to meet with her. Not knowing what to expect, Ms. Lundvall greeted the young girl. Seeming a bit nervous, she begins by saying, “my mother attended a meeting at the school and she met you”. As Ms Lundvall smiled, the young student eagerly added, “My mom said that she really liked you”. At that moment, everyone at the table realized the impact and power of the young girls perception of her mothers experience at the meeting with other parents and the Neff staff. As the parents anxiously await the next meeting, Ms Guerrero concludes by saying, ‘You now have here at Neff a good group of friends who are concerned about the well being of your child. Together, we will form a strong team to share, learn and support one another.”

See more photos in this slide show of the interview. >>>

Back Page

ABRAZO mentor training at Reagan High School.

See you Next Issue!

ABRAZO Newsletter Hattie Mae White Educational Center 4400 W. 18th Street Houston, Texas 77092 Houston Independent School District Creating a College Bound Culture Sharon Koonce Assistant Superintendent Melanie-Evans-Smith Director, New Teacher Induction Certification & Mentoring Sharon Lekawski Manager, Alternative Certification Program Pearl Black Manager, New Teacher Induction Lori Grossman Manager, Mentoring Harold E. Winston, Editor

Partners in the Induction of Beginning Teachers ABRAZO is a Spanish word that means embrace. Help us embrace new teachers by championing OUR MISSION to support quality teaching by providing on-going, proven practices of induction that drive successful student learning.

ABRAZO Newsletter Vol.1 Feb 2010  
ABRAZO Newsletter Vol.1 Feb 2010  

ABRAZO Newsletter