SPARK New Teacher
 Mentorship Program 

Hi everyone!  I'm Mackenzie, the author of the Brownbag Academics Blog!  I help new teachers examine themselves and what they have learned about education, so that the challenging first year of teaching seems... well less challenging!

Have you ever...
  • had trouble developing clear goals for yourself, your course, or your students?
  • felt that your non-verbal cues are putting off something different than your verbal cues?
  • been nervous and jittery in front of students? 
  • had a mix up in explaining directions that caused catastrophic damage?
  • been confronted by a student, parent or colleague?
  • dealt with difficult co-workers or students?
  • felt like you had to put on a show to engage students?
  • wondered how teachers use social networking to build their own professional learning communities?
Me too!  When I first started teaching, I struggled with learning how to talk to students.  I had difficulties learning who I was as a teacher?  Was I someone who guarded the content standards or was I an ally of the students?  I remember cowering behind a desk when I felt unsure of content material or new activities that I was trying out.  I remember the nervousness I felt when being confronted by a student and not being prepared.  I even remember how it felt to cry in the front of the classroom because I felt so overwhelmed... yes, that actually happened!

Luckily, over the past four years I have learned through further course work, professional & personal development, and trial-and-error what works in the classroom and what doesn't.  I have learned what it means to "come into your own" as a teacher!  From that I have...
  • examined my personal and professional goals to focus myself in the classroom!
  • analyzed how I personally undermined myself in the classroom and created an action plan to undo the harm I was causing!
  • developed relationships with my co-workers that challenge me in my content area and in my teaching!
  • learned how to talk with students and parents to disarm them!  
  • learned how to approach difficult situations with a set of "problem diffusers" that leaves both parties with mutually beneficial results!
  • developed my own professional learning community through social media!

I'm lucky enough to have learned all of this and have been able to put it into practice in my professional life: both in the classroom and with my peers. From these changes, I've had students tell me that they didn't drop my course because they could tell, just from one conversation, that I truly cared for them.  I've been luckily enough to see students grow where they have "built friendships that will last past this project" in their words.  I've learned to collaborate with peers in presentations and curriculum.

What I thought about teaching, that it was all trial-and-error, is true... it just takes a long time.  I was in my 3rd year of teaching before I knew who I was as a teacher, how to present myself in the classroom, how to interact with students/colleagues, how to engage students without feeling like a fool, or how to build my professional learning community.  That means that 2 years of precious time went by before I learned all of this!  

In the world of technology, 
we don't have to rely on trial-and-error.  
We can use technology 
to help each other learn all of this!

New Teacher Mentorship Program: SPARK

The SPARK New Teacher Mentorship Program is designed to challenge what you have learned, question what you have already decided, and encourage you to share/create a professional learning community. 

The program is a 5-week experiential-learning course that includes:

1. Coursebook:

  • Guided Note Pages
  • Mini-Homework Assignments
  • Reflections
  • Link to Sources

2. 5 Podcasts:
  • 1 Hour+ of Professional Development
  • Clear Podcast Objectives
  • Focused Podcasts 
3. Focused Units On:
  • Intention: Developing Clear, Measurable, Personal Goals
  • Presentation: Learning How We Undermine Ourselves in the Classroom
  • Communication: Tools to Communicate with Students & Colleagues in Problematic Situations
  • Engagement: How to Engage Students but Stay True to Ourselves
  • Community: How to Build Your Own PLC Outside of School
This easy to follow-up podcast course is designed with new teachers in mind. Visit the SPARK New Teacher Mentorship page to see a preview and get started now!  Don't waste your own time or the time of your students!  Time is valuable!