The New Teacher Induction Program at Medford schools has for years invited incoming district teachers to learn the essentials of their new work environment before the school year begins.
This year, special education teacher Mia Seminoff, of Chairville Elementary School, and Brittany Lare, of Medford Memorial Middle School, brought a different approach to the program after a year of COVID.
The program’s induction took place over the summer and invited new teachers to learn about multiple locations around the schools and get comfortable with their fellow teachers and staff. The effort usually consists of a “veteran” teacher and a new one to bring new and old ideas together. It is also suggested that one teacher work at a middle school and the other at an elementary school.
Seminoff has been in the district for four years and acted as the veteran teacher in this year’s induction, working with Lare, who brought a new perspective that made them partners in the collaboration.
This year’s program differed from years prior, according to Keira Scussa, Administrative Director of Educational Programming and Planning for Medford schools. She noted that this year, Seminoff and Lare “reimagined” the program with Scussa’s encouragement, making it more engaging for teachers and staff.
The program has previously involved long introductions where lessons and new information are taught to the teachers, making it difficult to keep their attention and absorb every detail. This year, Seminoff and Lare made it clear that the instruction time would be three half days, to spread out the new information teachers needed to learn, while also allowing for more open communication among them.
Other activities implemented during the program were a scavenger hunt introduced by Seminoff and Lare, where teachers got familiar with locations in the schools. Another session was World Cafe, where teachers learned about essentials such as pay and benefits while conversing with colleagues and taking advantage of advice.
Lare noted how the new approach to the program has continued to impact teachers since the summer instruction, paying forward the message of helping each other.
“What made me the most proud is, I heard one teacher from one school talking about how they were going to meet up and share information with a teacher from another school, and that’s what we wanted.” Lare explained.
“You want them to feel like they are not alone, like there’s lots of people to support them and that they know who those people are.”
At the end of the three-day program, the teachers were given surveys regarding information they would like to learn more about.
“We really want to listen to the needs of our new staff members,” Scussa said. “They each have a mentor assigned to them as well. However, this is just another mechanism that we put in place so that teachers can feel supported, part of the community and prepared to work with kids every day.”