Meeting the Need

By NIKKI SMITH,

The Mississippi Superintendents’ Collaborative member districts, made up of nine school districts from across the state, held the inaugural New Teachers’ Conference at The University of Southern Mississippi. Approximately 200 first-year teachers attended the conference.

“The New Teachers’ Conference was to identify new teachers in the field of education and offer them support,” said Superintendent Dr. Matt Dillon.

The goal of the conference was to provide high-quality professional learning to teachers in their first year on the job. First-year teachers dove into topics of interest to novice teachers, such as Classroom Discipline, Finding Your Voice and Classroom Management.

“We do a great job of (supporting new teachers) in our district through mentoring, through new teacher academy,” Dillon said. “There are a lot of measures that we put into place to assist new teachers, because it is different coming from the classroom at a college level to actually being a full-time, certified teacher.”

“We are trying to retain and recruit,” he added. “So we took it a step further through the Superintendent Collaborative to host the inaugural new teacher conference, which was tailored to first-year teachers.”

Dillon said a survey was done to see what information the first-year teachers who would be in attendance wanted or needed.

“The purpose was to increase their teaching strategies and give them new tools for success in the classroom,” Dillon said. “It was a safe environment because they were surrounded by brand new teachers, whether in the same district or not. They all experience the same things.”

“We wanted to let them know that we value them and let them know we have all experienced the same things before and we are there for them,” he added.

According to Dillon, the timing was excellent for the conference as the teachers had nine weeks under their belts, so they asked questions and addressed concerns, which Dillon hopes they will take back to their respective districts throughout the remainder of the school year.

The Superintendents’ Collaborative began two years ago, and members wanted to find a way to show new teachers that they are important, as well as ways that they can be successful.

Participants were also able to engage in real-world conversations about the profession during a panel discussion with teachers with two years of experience.

“They are not too far removed from being a first-year teacher, so the first-year teachers could ask them any questions that they had on their hearts, because sometimes it’s very powerful coming from those who have just experienced something like that,” Dillon said.

The Keynote speaker for the event, Luke Daniels of Petal, serves the state as the current Mississippi Teacher of the Year.

Daniels spoke to participants about the importance of growth and building relationships.