Friday, December 16, 2011

It's almost the December break! How fast the first four months of school have passed! These days have been exhilarating, challenging, surprising and amazing all wrapped together in a package, haven't they? Here is a thought-provoking article about the "Phases of First-Year Teaching." What resonates for you? What supports have you had? What supports do you need? Consider using this blog to reach out to other colleagues for support and mentoring. We're all in this together!

This is the article:

The Lesley New Teacher Community wishes all of you the brightest of new years and the most relaxing and restful vacation. Come back rejuvenated!

Looking forward! Circle Saturday, March 24th on the calendar! It's the date for our next Lesley New Teacher Community event. Stay tuned for news about it!

Grandpa Bear's Lullaby

The night is long
But fur is deep.
You will be warm
In winter sleep.
The food is gone
But dreams are sweet
And they will be
Your winter meat.
The cave is dark
But dreams are bright
And they will serve
As winter light.
Sleep, my little cubs, sleep.

Jane Yolen

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Seen today hanging outside of a classroom in the hallway of an elementary school:


Teach to students and not to tests!

Encourage uniqueness! Encourage greatness!

This has been an amazing Fall----news-wise, weather-wise, work-wise! How is everyone's year going? What kinds of supports are you getting? What help do you need? Have you thought about applying for one of the Lesley University New Teacher Community mini-grants (sorry, just for Lesley alumni)? The application deadline is December 9th!

Check it out at

Here are some more teacher resources for you! Enjoy!


The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities: A central source of information on: disabilities in children, IDEA (the law authorizing special education), No Child Left Behind (as it relates to children with disabilities), and research-based information on effective educational practices.

Education World: (

“The Educator’s Best Friend”: This diverse website features lesson plans, professional development, school administration, technology integration and other school issues. (

Activities, printables, articles, videos

Please send along some of your favorites, too! Or, tell us what you are looking for and we’ll try to find it for you!

My favorite December poem....


I heard a bird sing
In the DARK of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

'We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,'
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
Oliver Herford

Friday, November 18, 2011

What a wonderful Lesley New Teacher Community event on November 5th! It was called “What I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then: Advice from the Pros for New Teachers." We were inspired by our three fabulously thoughtful panelists chosen not only for how articulate they were, but also because they were featured in a wonderful DVD produced by Lesley entitled “My First Year of Teaching.” We watched the movie and listened to Kedar Rice, an elementary school teacher from Cambridge, Katie Oxnard, an elementary school teacher from Acton, and Joellen Scannell, a former teacher and principal in several Boston area school systems. Each of them spoke poignantly about how they survived and what helped them grow during the first year of teaching. Some highlights: “Learn to say no and cut down on your extra outside of school commitments,” “Take care of yourself and your health,” “Be organized,” “Visit other classrooms and look at how these teachers organize themselves,” “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” “If your administrator hired you then they are invested in your success! They want you to succeed so ask them for help.” “Be consistent in implementing your behavior policies,” “Love every child.”

Our small group conversations were engrossing, reflective and deep. I think that everyone left the event feeling empowered and refreshed and feeling amazingly good about all that they’d accomplished since school began this year in September. We all acknowledged that there’s stuff to be tweaked, but we felt good about all that we’d done so far.

One of the requests from our event feedback form was for information about resources for teaching. This is a great idea and beginning with this entry our blog will include some recommendations for teacher resources. Let us know if you have any favorite ones that you’d like us to feature, too! Here are a few to start you out…stay posted for more in the coming months!

Resources for Teachers

  • Carol Hurst’s Children’s Literature Site:
    A collection of reviews of books for kids, ideas for using books in the classroom, and lists of books and activities about particular subjects, curriculum areas, themes and professional topics.
  • Discovery School:
    From lesson plans and homework helpers to a clip art gallery and science fair help, this site provides a multitude of resources for students, parents, and teachers.
  • LD Online:
    One of the leading websites on learning disabilities for parents, teachers and professionals.
  • Schools Online:
    A colorful, user friendly site that will appeal to children as well as educators. The University of Illinois Extension offers activities and lesson plans based on horticulture (apples, worms), the environment, aging, and character building.
  • Good Sites for Kids is filled with lesson plans and activities on their Teachers & Parents page

Let us know what you think and fill us in on your favorites!

Thanksgiving already! The beginning of school went fast, didn’t it? Best wishes to everyone for the happiest of Thanksgiving holidays.

Thanksgiving Day

By Lydia Maria Child

Over the river and through the wood,
To Grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood,
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes,
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the wood,
Trot fast, my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground,
Like a hunting hound,
For this is Thanksgiving-Day.

Over the river and through the wood,
And straight through the barnyard gate!
We seem to go
Extremely slow,
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood;
Now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun!
Is the pudding done?

Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Like your teacher colleagues all over the country, you probably look forward to each school day with combined feelings of uncertainty and anticipation. This remarkable year will be filled with days where you sail on clouds and feel confident and in control. And then there will be days that will test how dedicated you are and make you question whether this is the best place for you. The Lesley New Teacher Community is here for you! We know that the first years of your teaching career can be immensely gratifying. We also know that the pressures can feel trying and overwhelming. WE get that!

Come join us on for brunch on Saturday, November 5 from 10:30-1:00 at the Porter Building in Porter Square, Cambridge. We are sponsoring our first event, a dialogue and discussion called:

"What I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then: Advice from the Pros for New Teachers."

We have a short film to show you and inspire you and then we have some fantastic teachers who are just a few years away from their first year who will be sharing their thoughts with you. We will have good food and surely, good conversation. It’s free, too! There will be door prizes and you'll get a chance to talk with other teachers and listen and learn from experienced teachers and administrators about what they wished they knew in those beginning years of teaching.

Would you like to bring a colleague to the brunch? That’s fine, too. Just let us know how many of you to expect when you RSVP. RSVP to:

Kali Small
School Partnerships Assistant
Field Placement and Professional Partnerships Division
Lesley University School
of Education
29 Everett Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

phone: 617-349-8399 or 1-800-999-1959 x8399

YOU ARE THE STAR! Yes, you are the star of a documentary film. Keep reading....

Here’s something else you might really enjoy. Join greater Boston teachers for a free screening of American Teacher, a documentary produced by The Teacher Salary Project. There’s a happy hour prior to the screening and interactive conversation following the screening. It’s at the Kendall Square Theater on Wednesday, November 2. Find out more information at http: Follow the links to “Boston.” The subject could not be more relevant. YOU!

We want to make this year one of dynamic professional growth and personal fulfillment and look forward to seeing you at either of these events.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Remember September

Remember September, 

The month of the year,

When summer is going,

And autumn is near.

Remember September,

When apples grow fat,

And pumpkins grow even

Fatter than that! 

Dear friends,


On behalf of all of us at Lesley, I welcome your participation in our New Teacher Community.  We are open to all teachers---beginning teachers AND experienced teachers!  We’re thrilled to have you be part of our group. 


The Lesley University New Teacher Community is here to support you and nourish you!  We provide consultation, we award mini-grants, and we offer you support by convening meetings of novice teachers and disseminating information through a blog, a website and through a Facebook page. 


The New Teacher Community (NTC) will send you emails from time-to-time alerting you to events and workshops that you might be interested in.  Our Facebook page provides you with links to some of the best thinking about teaching and learning.  Please join our discussions! We have so much to offer each other!


Save The Date! Saturday, November 5, 2011! Come join us for brunch and conversation!  

We are all so excited about this and hope that you'll put it on your calendars.  Our special event is entitled: "What I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then: Advice from the Pros for New Teachers."


There will be door prizes and good food, and you'll get a chance to talk with other teachers and listen and learn from experienced teachers and administrators about what they wished they knew in those beginning years of teaching. We will offer PDPs as well.

As novice professionals and beginning teachers you'll face new challenges, have fabulous experiences, build a repertoire of lessons, and yes, you'll have lots of fun with your students. The first years of teaching will be memorable for each of you and we at the Lesley University New Teacher Community wish you the best.  We are here to cheer for you, hold your hands, support you, inspire you, and even, maybe at times, to humor you!  We wish each of you and exciting and memorable school year. 




Andi Edson


Lesley University New Teacher Community


* Weekly Reader, Edition K,  Sept. 2004

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Close the bar-b-que.

Close the sun.

Close the home run games we won.

Close the picnic.

Close the pool.

Close the summer.

Open school!
by Prince Redcloud

(This poem is from the Lasting Impressions: Weaving Literature into the Writing Workshop by Shelley Harwayne and published by Heinemann)

The Lesley University New Teacher Community wishes all of you a successful year school year ahead. Stay posted for articles, discussions, links, and news about upcoming workshops. This is your blog! We want to hear about what interests you. We want this blog to be a helping tool for new teachers (and even experienced teachers!) and your sharing will make it rich with ideas and thoughts. Every teacher was a beginning teacher at one point of his or her career. We welcome all of you who read this blog to read, respond, share and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

9/11 In Your Classroom

In just two short weeks, we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the field in Pennsylvania. 
How will you address this anniversary with your students?

As a new teacher, you might feel overwhelmed with all of your new responsibilities, and be unsure how (or if) to address this topic.  Some of your students were very young or not even born in 2001; and for this reason, you might think that recognizing this important anniversary is irrelevant.

However, this solemn anniversary offers you an excellent opportunity to learn how to address difficult topics with students.  Here’s why.

Difficult topics arise all the time in teaching and we’re never prepared enough for them.  We cannot, and should not, shield students from sadness, grief, or difficulties in life:  that’s part of the range of human experience.  Even our youngest students benefit from opportunities to explore the meaning of this unique anniversary.  It’s never too early to begin learning about tolerance and peace.

So which direction is right for you?  First, check with your colleagues at school to find out what their plans are for recognizing 9/11 and coordinate with them.  Contribute your own ideas or some of the ones that follow during a grade level meeting or brainstorming session.  Second, make a personal commitment to dedicate your own service, large or small, to set an example for your students. Share this outstanding site with your colleagues and students for pledging service for 9/11.

Third, find some resources to help you decide what to teach.  While there are many for secondary school, finding appropriate curricula for K-6 is challenging.  Click here to download Learning From the Challenges of Our Times: Global Security, Terrorism, and 9/11 in the Classroom.  It’s full of age appropriate lesson plans and resources to help you to teach about 9/11 using heroes, tolerance and peace.   

Finally, I hope you've found this blog helpful during the last two years.  Next month, Andi Edson, the new coordinator of the Lesley New Teacher Community, takes over this blog and shares her own thoughts.  I move on to my own blog,  An Education Spring.  You're invited to check it out at

All best for a great school year,

Kathleen M. Nollet, Ph.D.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Write Home

            During your teacher training, what did you learn about the importance of teacher-parent communication?  You may have learned that teachers need to establish strong communication channels with parents so they can help their children succeed in school.  But did you know that the first words a parent should hear from you about their child are positive ones?  Let’s explore how this works.

            You’re planning to send a letter home introducing yourself to your students and perhaps give them an assignment prior to the first day of school.  That’s one kind of communication:  it’s about you, the classroom, and an assignment.  Next, you may meet a few students and parents as they wander through the building as you prepare your classroom.  That’s verbal communication: informal and a social introduction.  But there is another communication that truly sends home the message that your classroom is a place where substantive learning takes place and you value your individual students: the letter home on the first day of school.
            Margo, a middle school teacher whom I admire, has a great system for handling this.   At the end of the first day of school, she sends home a group email that summarizes the students’ first day of school.  Throughout the message are references to each child (by first name) and the positive contributions they made.  Parents love receiving this because they discover what their child learned and what Margo recognized about their child, even if it’s two or three words’ worth.

            Margo’s observations about each child avoid trite comments like “Daneisha was a great line leader” and are more along the lines of “Daneisha, Yvonne and James wrote a terrific poem together about the water cycle.” Notice how much specific information is relayed? Students collaborated, they learned science concepts right away, and they wrote poetry to creatively show what they understood.  That means Margo used cooperative learning, science content, the arts, and incorporated assessment right from the first day.

            This kind of effort requires advance planning and is worth every minute.  Where does Margo find the email addresses?  She consults the school records and makes phone calls to find missing ones.  What does she do if parents do not use email?  She sends home hard copies of her letter.  How does she find time to do this on the first day?  She does what she can in advance, then schedules time and holds it sacred—that’s how important this home-school communication is to her.  What if the parents don’t communicate in English? She sends it in the home language.  What does she do if a child acts out all day?  There is something concrete and positive to say about every child, Margo believes, and she focuses on that.
            When you take the time to reach out to parents with upbeat, specific news about their child right away, you lay the foundation for a good home/school relationship.  First, parents get solid news about what you and the students did.  Second, they feel happy and relieved to know that you made positive observations about their child.  Third, by sending an email, you establish a communication channel with them.  However, the most important result is that you ensure that their child begins the school year with immediate, affirmative recognition that goes directly to their parents.  This gives the parents information that they can build on to enhance their child’s learning at home, too.

            Everyone benefits when you cultivate good home-school communication.  By following Margo’s example, you cultivate the right atmosphere for young minds to know that parents and teacher plan to work together.  With that approach, everyone wins.

Kathleen M. Nollet, Ph.D.