New Teacher Academy enters sixth year of aiding new educators

Young woman standing in front of TWU banner holds microphone and speaks to audience. A New Teacher Academy/iteachTEXAS sign is to her right.
Emily Becker, a 2018 TWU graduate who recently completed her first year of teaching, tells New Teacher Academy participants what they could expect during their first year.

July 24, 2019 - DENTON — Participants in the sixth annual New Teacher Academy at Texas Woman’s University got a firsthand account of how their first year of teaching could look, as well as information and encouragement to help them not only survive, but thrive.

Emily Becker, a 2018 TWU graduate who just completed her first year of teaching, made it through with “some bumps and bruises … Thankfully, only one tetanus shot,” she said with a laugh. Becker, a special education teacher at Lewisville Elementary, told the new teachers that their first year would be a rollercoaster, but advised them to ask questions and make connections, both with their colleagues and their students.

“My first year led me to some of the best people I have ever met,” said Becker, who was named the Lewisville ISD’s First-Year Teacher of the Year for 2018-19.

More than 100 people attended the New Teacher Academy, which took place July 16 on TWU’s Denton campus. Now in its sixth year, the event provides extra mentoring support and professional development for TWU graduates who are in their first three years of teaching. Candidates from iteachTEXAS, an alternative certification program, also are invited, the result of the Integrative Collaborative with iTeach, TWU, North Central Texas College and the Denton Independent School District.

“We’re here to help you become more confident and make you more comfortable about going into your first year of teaching,” said Sarah McMahan, PhD, a Teacher Education faculty member who founded the academy with colleague Rebecca Fredrickson, EdD.

This year’s event included a preconference workshop focused on preparing teachers to use Google applications to enhance student learning in the classroom.

“Many districts in the area have a class set or one-to-one Chromebooks in the classroom,” McMahan said. “It is an expectation that teachers know how to integrate tech applications to enhance student learning.” She added that district officials consider it important to hire educators who have training and become Google Certified Educators.

Students in classroom look a their laptop computers.
Students participate in a Google Training Workshop.

The workshop was designed to prepare academy participants for Google Level 1 certification. Certified Google Educators Miranda Hansen and Kate Jackson, both from the Prosper ISD, provided information and test-taking tips to the 36 attendees.

Hansen and Jackson also led a “Technology in the Classroom” breakout session for the New Teacher Academy. Other sessions included “Working with Special Populations” and “Effective Classroom Management Strategies.” The event also included panel discussions featuring novice teachers and a question-and-answer panel with area school administrators.

Also new this year, organizers invited area school districts in search of teachers to send representatives to the academy. Ten districts sent representatives to recruit teacher candidates who did not have jobs. McMahan said it also was an opportunity for candidates to build their professional learning network, adding that a number of participants stayed at the end of the academy to talk with the representatives.

Page last updated 1:22 PM, July 24, 2019