For the past 15 years, Walnut Valley’s outstanding teachers have quietly made commitments to help beginning teachers learn the ropes in their classrooms and schools.
There are currently nearly 40 Walnut Valley veteran educators (and unsung heroes) in Diamond Bar and Walnut giving their time and expertise to help beginning teachers find success in their new careers.
As Support Providers, they partner, mentor, and provide “on the job” guidance to newly credentialed Induction Candidates during the two-year program.
They are determined to help them learn and gain confidence because they know that a career in teaching brings a lifetime of rewards.
“Our wonderful Support Providers give the gift of their time and expertise to help beginning teachers succeed,” said Julie Sheldon, Coordinator of the Walnut Valley Beginning Teacher and Assessment (BTSA) Consortium.
This year, seven schools districts are participating in the BTSA Consortium which is a state-funded induction program co-sponsored by the California Department of Education and Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
The program helps newly credentialed teachers with support and the required professional development to fulfill the requirements for the California Clear Multiple and Single Subjects Credentials.
Three 2nd year teacher WVUSD Induction Candidates and their Support Providers reflected on their journey together.
“BTSA was an essential part of my support system during my first year of teaching, offering interaction with other new teachers and providing a variety of pedagogy lessons,” said Doug List, a sophomore English, beginning journalism, and advisor for “The Bull’s Eye” student newspaper at Diamond Bar High.
“The program also forced me to think about bigger picture issues in regards to teaching and managing a class---beyond the next lesson or next assessment,” he added.
Doug credits his Support Provider DBHS English teacher Lisa Pacheco for her constant support and encouragement. The pair has met every Tuesday before the first bell since last fall.
“She was essential to my survival,” List said about his first year in the classroom.
“I had so many questions and so much uncertainty about what to do and how to do it. Having that one person who I knew I could go to was very comforting,” he said.
“Not only did she help me navigate the processof BTSA but also my day to day existence as a teacher,” he added.
Veteran teacher Pacheco described BTSA as a “lifeline” when she was a new teacher.
“The first two years of teaching can be tough, and I remember how some days I just felt giving up. A Support Provider can be thedifference between moving on to a successful career as a teacher and throwing your hands up in the air and quitting,” she said.
Pacheco said she feels lucky to be paired up with List who has been a “model student.”
“I think of myself as a link between Doug and the school. I am his ‘go to person’ when he needs to know anything, regarding policies, procedures, curriculum, and in general – how things work at our school. I am his advocate and mentor, and I take my job seriously,” she said.
A stand out memory was when Doug told me about an accolade he received from BTSA Director Julie Sheldon about his induction plan, she said.
Sheldon was so impressed with his feedback regarding the implemenation of his poetry unit and his reflection about it that she asked him if he could share his experience with other IC’s, and then told him “you really got this.”
To Pacheco, that moment validated that he had gleaned a lot from the program and his personal reflections showed tremendous growth as a first year teacher.
“I felt like I was part of his success because I helped to guide him through the entire process. That felt good,” she said.
BTSA has also impacted Walnut High’s Bryn Hoenisch’s teaching style in numerous ways. The Biology, Biology Honors, and Natural Science 2 teacher is also beginning her second year in the program.
”I have gained additional strategies for differentiating instruction and classroom/time management,” Hoenisch said.
“The most important thing I have learned from my Support Provider -WHS Science teacher Chiara Morgan- is that each student is special in his or her own way and that they constantly rely on us as teachers for support, advice, and encouragement,” she said.
“Bryn is great in the classroom and works hard to help students achieve their best,” said Morgan who provides support to two beginning teachers.
“Even though I am awfully busy, I make time to meet with my Induction Candidates every week and I look forward to our ‘sharing time’. “ she said.
Chaparral Middle School’s Angelica Infante quickly implemented several teaching strategies provided from BTSA professional development workshops in her classroom instruction. She teaches 7th & 8th grade Sheltered Social Studies along with Language Arts for English Learners.
“One of my goals last year was to use more technology in my lessons. The workshops BTSA offered provided me with many websites, tools, and resources. Presenting information through technology engaged my students while teaching them 21st century skills,” she said.
She uses the Class Cards application software on her iPod Touch to randomly select students for class participation.
“This program increased student participation and has given my English Learners more opportunities to speak during class,” she described. She also sampled as many strategies as possible to determine what worked and what could be modified, Infante added.
“I have been happily surprised to find that becoming a Support Provider has given me new insight on my own teaching practices,” said Anna Landi, Chaparral social studies teacher.
“By working closely with Angelica, I have been reminded that good teaching doesn’t have to be complicated. Angelica brings a refreshing new perspective to the classroom. Observing her as she teaches EL students has been a great learning opportunity for me. This has been a truly rewarding experience,” Landi said.
“We have really strong and dedicated support providers – it makes all the difference in the success of our program, Sheldon said.