-words of Wisdom(ish) from the Mentor

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I'm excited to have the opportunity to feature our third in the series of First Year teachers..If you are interested in being featured see the information below.

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Shelby Tate / Prairie Star Middle / 6th Grade ELA/Reading; Social Studies


Stilwell, KS


Kansas State University. EMAW.

Why you chose teaching:

I’ve been around educators my whole life. My great-grandmother taught in a one-room schoolhouse in Stilwell and loved listening to her stories. I spent the early years of “Take Your Child to Work Day” sitting at my mother’s desk at Blue Valley High School as she taught Junior and Senior, both AP and regular, English classes. Although my desire to be in her classroom started with an intense love for coloring on the whiteboard, it shifted to seeing her passion for the content, wondering about the language the students who seemed to be incredibly intelligent used, and how much fun her students seemed to be having while they listened to her. As I started my own AP classes in high school, she moved on to administration, but continued to drive my developing passion for literature, specifically with coaching me through Shakespeare essays. Today, I think of her often in my practices as an educator…and still love my whiteboard.

Best Moment of the first few months:

My 6th grade students engaged in a Socratic Seminar over the text set we had been discussing for a few weeks. I was anxious to see how the students would handle this type of discussion, because 1) they had never heard of it before, and 2) they had total independence for 15 minutes of the period with this student-led discussion. There were obviously some awkward silences; however, one moment of silence was broken by a student who is in the ESOL program. This student moved from Israel a month ago and has opened up about being uncomfortable speaking in class because he is unsure of his English. When he broke the silence of the Socratic Circle, though, he catapulted himself into a leadership position in the discussion. He led the other students and carried the discussion for the rest of the 15 minutes. I was ecstatic to have found an outlet for him to feel comfortable sharing his thoughts with the large group.

Most Challenging Moment of the first few months:

I struggled with finding my voice in my PLCs in the first few months. I have a relatively experienced team of teachers, although the majority is new to the 6th grade team, coming from other school or grade levels. It took about a month for our norms to be set, which was a frustration. After those were all laid out, however, I felt more comfortable in sharing my opinion with my team members because the expectation had been set; I felt more open to correcting experienced teachers if they broke norms, something I was not accustomed to doing in previous PLCs.

If I could go back to New Teacher Academy, what advice would I give myself?

If I were to go back to New Teacher Academy, I would have collaborated more with other educators and bounce ideas off them to see how they had planned to implement classroom management strategies as well as content-specific strategies.

Coolest life moment/experience

Having been a Beatles fanatic for a lifetime, when Paul McCartney announced he was coming to Kansas City for a show a few years ago, I took any and all extreme measures to ensure I was at the Sprint Center when he walked on that stage. With seats in the last row, furthest from the stage at the other end, I stood amongst the elderly, the middle aged, the teens, and the infant child in her mother’s lap in front of me for the entire two and a half hours. I listened to Paul McCartney sing each and every one of my favorite songs with what seemed like five generations of people who were just as in awe of the iconic musician.

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Goal Setting & Observations

As we quickly move past the mid-point of the semester we will be moving toward our formal in-class observations. Once you have set your goals (which we would like to get done soon), I will focus my upcoming observations on seeing those goals in action. My goal is to have one to two observations done before Winter break. This will NOT be as structured as your observations with your admin, mostly that I will be there for an entire class period with a more focused view.

Let me know the questions you have moving forward.

I will continue my FlyBy's during the rest of the semester as normal. If you have specific lessons you want me to see then schedule it on the calendar or let me know so I can make sure to schedule it...

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Where you get your voice....

Below is a brief "interview"...if you are willing (because it is optional) complete the questions and submit back to me (you can cut/paste the questions into an email if you like)..then in a future newsletter you will be featured..You all do great things in the classroom and its time to celebrate and learn from each other...

Mentoring Newsletter Mini-Interview

1. Name/School/Position:

2. Hometown:

3. College:

4. Why you chose teaching:

5. Best Moment of the first few months:

6. Most Challenging Moment of the first few months:

7. If I could go back to New Teacher Academy, what advice would I give myself?

8. Coolest life moment/experience

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There are three types of ETMs and numerous titles from which to choose. ETMs can be completed online or in face-to-face sessions. Additionally, you have the option to go with your mentor for a half-day (sub provided) to observe effective peers for one ETM. A full listing of the ETMs available can be found at http://www.bluevalleyk12.org/etm.

Classroom Management v.2

Early December I will be hosting a classroom Management ETM. Open to all teachers regardless of if you came to the first session.

I will be focusing on working with difficult students.

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Some may already be familiar with this assessment method but worth showing for all to become more aware.


What to know about the Mentor:

Two years ago I took up bow hunting. I grew up shooting bows, but never hunting with them. So, over the last two years I have been honing my skills to harvest a deer for my family to eat. Last week I shot my first one near Louisburg. A small buck that will provide many, many meals for my family in months to come.


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