RANCHO DISTRICT -- It's the illumination of the imaginary light bulb
that Heather Reichard sees above her students' heads when they understand
a lesson that makes the local teacher love her job.
Reichard, a second-year sixth-grade language arts/social studies
teacher at Luther Burbank Middle School, was one of about 50 first- and
second-year teachers to recently attend a new teacher support meeting.
With teacher training high on the list of its priorities for 2002, the
Burbank Unified School District is working to get new teachers up to par
with district and state standards.
"When you're new, you can think you're doing a million things wrong,
but here at these meetings, you feel normal. It's a confirmation," said
Teachers like Reichard are paired with more experienced teachers in
the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Program. They meet each week
for an hour to go over individual learning plans.
The plans give new teachers short- and long-term goals for the year
and encourage them to reflect on their progress. There are 49 new
teachers in the program.
Cate Conwell's goal by month's end is to get herself two weeks ahead
in lesson-planning. Conwell, a fourth-grade teacher at Joaquin Miller
Elementary School, regularly comes to work about two hours early to get
homework ready, stays about two hours after school and regularly takes
"It's easy to get caught up in one lesson, but what I have learned is
to sort through lessons, pull out key points and try to budget time,
which is limited," said first-year teacher Conwell, 22.
Kim Anderson, coordinator of professional development for the
district, said reports released by the California Commission on Teacher
Credentialing show that 30% of new teachers leave the profession in their
first two years and more than half leave after five to seven years.
The same report states that due to class size reduction, the teaching
work force should increase by about 68,000 in the next 10 years.