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The BEST Program

The BEST Program

I overheard someone talking about the “best” program and thought to myself, “What makes that program the best?” Well, “BEST” stands for Beginning Educator Support Team and is a new teacher induction program that OSPI is sponsoring to support new teachers in our state. I sleuthed around and discovered that the Northwest Educational Service District 189 received an induction grant to support five districts in our region which includes 35 new teachers.

The BEST Program provides sustained and purposeful support to educators in the beginning of their careers.

To promote this program, we provide:

  • Information,
  • Professional development ,
  • Resources, and
  • Grants (as appropriated by legislative funding) for comprehensive induction programs for novice teachers.

Our goals are to: reduce educator turnover, improve educator quality for student learning, and ensure equity of learning opportunity for all students.

Districts identify a mentor for each of their new teachers. Mentors attend a three-day training that focuses on developing skills to serve in mentoring and coaching roles. The primary emphasis is on supporting instructional growth and development of novice teachers. Topics include roles and expectations of mentors; skills for holding learning-focused conversations; strategies for conducting observations, gathering data, and providing feedback; effective classroom management; using instructional frameworks to promote growth; and confidentiality.

The NWESD will support the new teacher and their mentor through an ongoing network that will meet throughout the year. The NWESD will also introduce the team to content best practices, mentoring tips and provide collaboration and support. The goal is to support new teachers to ensure that they have a successful and rewarding first year.

Districts involved in the NWESD consortium are: Darrington, La Conner, Lynden, Meridian and San Juan Island School Districts. TheNWESD is proud to support 35 young professionals as they embark on their careers. Through our collaborative efforts, we hope they have a successful and rewarding first year.

Foundation for Learning: Tasks for the first days and weeks of schoolto increase student motivation and learning include:

Set up and maintain physical space

What messages do you want to convey to students as they enter your room?

What information would be helpful to have posted on the wall? (e.g., bell schedule, homework schedule, …)

Involve students in setting up and maintaining the space.

Build community Establish relationships with your students and among students.

What are we going to be about…as a group of learners…and what will we do to accomplish that?

What kind of thinkers are we going to be and what will that look like?

Guide classes to craft vision statements for themselves as a group: "This year, we will cultivate and encourage these thinking behaviors: _________, _________, _________ (e.g., persistence, getting unstuck, and considering various possibilities to tackle a problem.)” Post it and refer back to it when students display or support that thinking.

Establish routines and procedures

What will your procedures be for starting and ending class? Students working in pairs or fours? Students sharing their thinking /solutions with the whole class?

What you do consistently in the first 2 weeks can easily become routines.

Pre-assess prior knowledge and skills

What do you need to know about students to begin to plan student-centered and appropriate instruction?

Engage all students in real learning

How will you engage students in the first days in real NEW learning so that they believe they CAN learn and WILL learn in your classroom?

Build in reflection time for you and your students

Ask your students—in the first week or two of school—to reflect on their learning: what helps, what’s hard, what do they need, what have they already learned.

How will you ensure that YOU take time to reflect on your learning?