The seventh annual New Teacher Academy had traditional elements — a keynote speaker, sessions designed to help new teachers in the classroom, and a question-and-answer panel featuring area administrators. As in the past few years, the event drew more than 100 participants.
What differed in 2020 was the event took place online.
The New Teacher Academy at Texas Woman’s University is a collective partnership with iteachTX, an alternative certification program, that provides extra mentoring support and professional development to TWU graduates and iteachTX candidates who are beginning their first years of teaching.
“The great thing about the partnership is that it allows us to serve many beginning teachers throughout the area,” said Sarah McMahan, PhD, associate professor of teacher education at Texas Woman’s. “This is something that is unique because it is an alternative certification program and a traditional educator preparation program working together for the mutual good of preparing teachers for entry and sustainability in the program.”
McMahan, who co-founded the academy with Rebecca Fredrickson, EdD, associate professor, noted that in addition to moving the academy to an online format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers also reduced the length of the event from seven hours to four.
“We knew that people wouldn’t sit in front of a computer more than a few hours. I hardly can,” she added with a smile.
The event began with a welcome to participants from McMahan and Fredrickson, as well as Lisa Huffman, PhD, dean of the TWU College of Professional Education, and Diann Huber, EdD, president of iteachTX. Keynote speaker Tanya Thornburg, instructional coach at McKillop Elementary School in the Melissa Independent School District, provided encouragement to the new teachers through her presentation, “Success in Your First Year.”
Sessions focused on classroom management, differentiated instruction and culturally relevant teaching practices. The event ended with area administrators answering questions from participants. Panelists were TWU alumni — Claudia Ayala, assistant principal at Gainesville High School; Ebonee King, assistant principal, Disciplinary Alternative Education Program, McKinney ISD; Todd Southard, superintendent, Pilot Point ISD; and Landon Turrubiarte, elementary assistant principal, Denton ISD.
McMahan said she and Fredrickson look forward to planning for next year’s New Teacher Academy, adding, “Whether it is virtual or in-person depends on the pandemic. I would prefer in-person, but we will do whatever is needed to support graduates in any environment.”