Back-to-school for New Teacher Developers (NTDs) means planning for the annual New Teacher Institute, this year held at Roxbury Community College. Despite budget cuts and layoffs in June, over 200 teachers new to Boston gathered in the Reggie Lewis Center gymnasium. BTU volunteers were on hand at a nearby welcome table while NTDs registered participants.

The 3-day institute began with a parade of dignitaries: Superintendent Johnson, Mayor Menino, BTU President Richard Stutman, and School Committee Chairman Reverend Groover. The keynote speaker was Harry Gilliam, a teacher of the year from the Murphy K-8 School, who shared his personal journey and lessons learned. His parents taught him to “€œmind your manners, but don”€™t hold your tongue,”€ a fitting reminder that teachers need to make their voices heard within their school communities and beyond.

Participants spent most of the first day listening to a variety of speakers. Ed Donnelly gave a talk on anti-bullying initiatives at BPS and members of Assistant Superintendent Ross Wilson”€™s staff introduced the new educator evaluation process. Former new teachers Sadada Jackson (BLA) and Shameka Charley (Tobin) shared their experience with the support offered by NTDs throughout their first year in BPS. During lunch, new teachers had an opportunity to sit with NTDs assigned to their school, although some assignments were still pending.

Each new teacher received a complementary copy of Conscious Classroom Management, a book by Wednesday”€™s keynote speaker Rick Smith. NTDs led Creating Classroom Communities workshops for novice teachers, giving them a chance to reflect on Rick Smith”€™s ideas and to interact with one another. Experienced teachers continued their conversation with Rick Smith, exploring brain compatible approaches for motivating reluctant learners. The final day of the New Teacher Institute was dedicated to curriculum content area workshops, which NTDs also attended to make sure their ongoing support is in sync with the latest BPS curriculum initiatives.

Sadada”€™s advice from Day 1 seems appropriate for all new and veteran teachers: remember that you”€™re not alone! Welcome to a new school year!


Amika Kemmler Ernst is a recently retired BPS New Teacher Developer with extensive experience as a classroom teacher, curriculum developer, and graphic artist. Her “€œWe”€™re Learning Here“€ Project features images of everyday learning in our public schools, along with the words of the students pictured.