STR Graduate Spotlight: Alicia McKean
Alicia is a Cohort Three graduate of the Seattle Teacher Residency. She is finishing up her first year of teaching 3rd grade at Kimball Elementary. We spent an afternoon watching her engage her students in a science lesson.
Hometown: Athol, Massachusetts
What did you do before coming to STR?
I came to STR out of undergrad at Boston College.
What brought you to Seattle?
I wanted to get out of Boston, and I was really excited about the residency program. I wanted to experience something new, to experience a new city, a new part of the country, but to also have this excellent teaching program where I would get to feel really prepared.
What’s been the biggest challenge this year, your first year of teaching?
The time trying to balance everything and getting all the things done – that’s the biggest challenge. I think its honestly gone smoother than I thought it would. You hear all those stories about your first year teaching and all you do is cry in your car. All last summer I was thinking: I don’t even know how I’m going to do this. I’m feel like I’m really lucky with the school I’m at – it’s a really awesome school with great teachers, and I feel really supported working here.
What are you most proud of so far this year?
I’m most proud of the relationships I’ve built with my kids. I feel like I have pretty strong relationships. So even when problems and challenges come up, we’re able to work to work through those together without damaging those relationships. My kids trust me and I trust them and I know they are doing their best.
Is there something you’re learning this year that you want to do next year?
I’ve worked through a lot of iterations of my math block rotations – what I want kids to be doing at their stations, how I want them structured, how they are working with partners, how they are using the computers, what does that rotation look like, how do we rotate. I feel like I’ve done a lot of trial and error with those expectations and routines that I feel at this point of the year, I’m happy with. I’ll be able to start fresh next year and more prepared.
Do you have any advice for the new cohort of Residents as they begin the program this summer?
It’s hard. It’s a long year, but you can make it through. You’ve got to just keep pushing through. I think honestly, for me, the Residency year was more challenging than my first year teaching. Your residency year, you’re still trying to figure out all the things for the first time. In your first year teaching, you’ve done it all before. Maybe not independently, but you’ve been through all the things.
STR Graduate Spotlight: Kimi Walker
Kimi Walker is a Cohort One graduate of the Seattle Teacher Residency. Now a teacher in a 1st/2nd grade classroom at Van Asselt Elementary, she spent her fall and winter quarters hosting Literacy Methods, a placement-based teaching and learning model in which all Residents engage. This model ensures that residents go through the learning cycle multiple times in order to observe, plan/rehearse, enact and analyze literacy teaching practices with students and alongside university instructors and host teachers who give direct feedback in real time. We talked to her about her experience as a Resident graduate hosting Cohort Four Residents for literacy methods.
Resident Spotlight: Kelly Allen
In my two visits to Cohort Four Resident Kelly Allen’s kindergarten classroom, nothing fazed her. Classroom visits, photographers, teaching observations, disruptions — nothing distracted her from her counting lessons at John Muir Elementary.
Resident Spotlight: Caitlin Rich
Despite feeling under the weather, Cohort four Resident Caitlin Rich was able to manage her classroom and go with the flow when I visited her last week. Working with multiple strategies to manage her classroom of third-graders, this soon-to-be teacher had her students using their own multiple strategies to solve tough division problems.
Resident Spotlight: German Moreno
German Moreno moved across the country and changed gears entirely when he applied to the Seattle Teacher Residency. I sat in while this east coast native gave some one-on-one time to a student to dive deeper into a childhood favorite, Charlotte’s Web.
STR Graduate Spotlight: Jen Paris, Cohort Two
Visiting Jen Paris’s special education classroom brought encounters with robots, smiles, and a lot of great learning at TOPS K-8.
Induction Matters: Winter 2017
Grads, Happy New Year to you all! I trust that your winter break was restful, peaceful and rejuvenating. I know that for me, taking a step away from the daily demands of work and life at the end of December helps to build me up for the winter ahead. I gain clarity about things that really matter about which I strive to learn, attain or grow into. I wish that for all of you during the stretch from January through March, and hope to cross paths with many of you in the winter months to come. The fact that you have made it this far in the year positions you exceedingly well!
Fall of 2016 was an experience unlike any other. We launched a third cohort of STR graduates into the teaching profession, grew our STR program, and collectively and individually experienced an unprecedented national election. Throughout this time, the Induction program of STR held three Mindfulness sessions, a Working in Schools Problem of Practice session, two math labs (one for primary teachers and one for intermediate teachers), individual induction visits for every Cohort 3 graduate, and two lively Happy Hours!
Our fall Induction offerings were a fantastic success. Over 51 spots were filled in the various sessions. Returning to the demands of our classrooms in January requires us to be patient and compassionate with our students, ourselves, and each other and to be as prepared as best we can be. Please join us for some, any or all of the Induction events to kick off 2017! See below for the winter schedule of offerings. If we’ve already shared these experiences with you, keep coming. If we haven’t seen you yet, it’s never too late to start!
Mindfulness Mondays, all from 5 – 7 p.m., location TBD
- Monday, January 23
- Monday, February 13
- Monday, March 13
Our mindfulness work with Corinna Skildum and a very loyal group of grads from each cohort, has taught me something very simple: There is power in mindfulness. I am grateful that we will continue to work monthly with Corinna during Mindfulness Mondays this winter as a means of helping us live well amidst the many challenges and experiences we face, so that we and our students can benefit. I encourage you to join us, whether you are feeling fine, just managing, or really struggling. It’s been an honor to become more mindful alongside grads, and I hope our group grows.
“It is always so hard to get to these evenings (after a long day of school), but once I do I’m so glad and I feel so energized by the time I leave!” – Participant of all three fall mindfulness sessions
Working in Schools, Problem of Practice from 5 – 7 p.m., location TBD
Monday, February 27
Grads across the cohorts shared problems of practice with one another under the guidance of Chris, Anita and Elizabeth, and then received open-hearted responses, advice, and jaw-dropping wisdom from one another. This was an absolute highlight of the fall, so we’re doing another one!
“It was nice to get a chance to hear what other teacher’s struggles are, to be able to provide others with resources and remember that each of us are valuable resources to each other (and that I at least have some things figured out…) and to hear ideas from others and be validated in the things I am already trying/doing. It was nice to have a small group, it felt intimate and relaxed, and of course thank you for the food.” –Anna Witte, participant of the Problem of Practice Session
Classroom Management, from 5 – 7 p.m., location TBD *new this winter*
Monday, January 30
Join Marie Fisher and other grads where we’ll share problems of our classroom management practice with one another and help each other work through the one (or two) issues you can’t quite resolve on your own (and shouldn’t have to).
Be on the lookout for a Google spreadsheet this month asking you to briefly describe your classroom context. The steps are easy: If you choose to participate, you’ll clear it with your principal first, then you’ll HOST a fellow grad one day and you’ll VISIT a grad on another day. This will be a 2-day experience (one for hosting and one for visiting, and subs will be provided by STR.)
Grade Level Planning Groups
Using information from your beginning-of-year surveys, I’ll connect you to one another for optional grade level planning groups. There is great power and comfort in thinking and planning together!
Below, you’ll see a link to the Induction Calendar for winter/spring that hold offerings by STAR Mentors, the SPS District, and STR in order to help you stay informed and updated with information. Please bookmark this to your computer (if you haven’t already) so that you can always have the most up-to-date information.
STR Alumni Happy Hour
Mark your calendar for Tuesday, January 31, from 4:00-6:00pm, for our next Alumni Happy Hour! There is no school the following day as it is the day between semesters. Come and mingle and catch up with your old cohort and make some connections across the growing STR alumni community. Location TBD.
As you can see, there are again multiple ways to stay connected to STR, your instructors, and to one another. The aim is to meet various needs and interests. If you don’t see an opportunity you are interested in, please let me know—that’s how the math labs came about! As always, you won’t be able to attend each session, so choose what will feed you, give you energy and/or raise the level of your practice. If you are interested in attending any of the offerings above, or would like more information, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot on the open participant lists.
Resident Spotlight: Bethany Cooper
Teaching mathematical concepts, negotiating the rules of sharing, and assisting with tape disasters — Cohort Four Resident Bethany Cooper does it all. In just 30 minutes in her placement kindergarten classroom, I (your friendly blog moderator) was exhausted, but Bethany managed her students like a seasoned veteran. We caught up with this Seattle native before the winter break.
Resident Spotlight: Caitlin Sears Curry
A washington native hailing from the Tri-Cities, Caitlin Sears Curry loves working with kids and getting them excited about learning. We met up with her while she worked with a small group of students on a literacy lesson.
Mentor PD – Mentoring Moves
Seattle Teacher Residency places a large emphasis on the professional development of its Mentor teachers in addition to the training of its Residents. Mentor Professional Development days, held once a month, are meant to give our Mentors concrete tools and strategies for supporting their Residents, as well as provide them with curriculum materials across program courses. Mentor PD is planned and facilitated by Maggie Allen, STR Field Director, Sylvia Bagley, UW Faculty, and Marisa Bier, STR Program Director, along with other members of the STR instructional team who facilitate various segments related to program content.