At least 150 new teachers are preparing for next week’s start of school during a three-day training this week that gives an overview of teaching in Lafayette Parish schools.
The training is held for those new hires in the school system — both first-year classroom teachers and those who are teaching for the first time within Lafayette Parish.
“It’s a bit overwhelming when you get started. It’s important that they go in there with strong instructional strategies. If you do, the classroom management takes care of itself,” said Joe Craig, the school system’s chief operations officer.
The training began Monday and concludes Wednesday. Topics range from special-education requirements and classroom management to teaching content standards and an overview of education law. In the final day of training, human resources staff will review employee insurance programs and the substitute teacher management system.
For first-year teacher Renée Kimble, her path to a Lafayette Parish classroom fell in place unexpectedly and quickly. Kimble, a Lafayette High graduate, was in a graduate studies program in French literature at New York University — until recently. She decided last week to leave the graduate school program and take a job at Carencro High and Carencro Middle.
“What I really love is teaching French,” Kimble said. “My mom saw the article about the job in the paper and knew I was looking. I thought it was a long shot.”
Her French teaching job and several others were advertised by the school system as critical shortage areas because of the difficulty in finding qualified applicants. Kimble, a Tulane University graduate, also will work on her Louisiana certification during her first year in the classroom.
“I’m a little nervous because I never worked with high school or middle school students, only college freshmen. I’m hoping my enthusiasm will get me through my first year,” she joked. “I’ve been taking notes through the training, and as far as today, we heard about absenteeism and discipline issues. It’s important to intervene early to prevent issues down the road.”
Kimble said one issue she hadn’t considered was joining a teachers organization. Local chapters of the teachers unions on Monday presented information to the new hires.
“I thought it was interesting that they were emphasizing joining a union or group to have backup just in case and the importance to have the assurance that someone has your back,” Kimble said.
She returned to Louisiana on Sunday and is looking for a place to live. She’s not alone. Newly hired Lafayette Middle social studies and English teacher Lamime Diallo held a copy of local rental listings during Tuesday’s training session.
Diallo has taught for about 20 years and said he’s looking forward to meeting his principal and new colleagues. He most recently taught in Natchitoches Parish and said he’s taught in both rural and urban schools, and also has experience working in alternative schools. He said one way he prepares for the first day is to familiarize himself with his new community.
“I’ll meet with my principal at the end of the week,” he said. “I want to get to know my students and colleagues and the community where I now teach.”
The school year begins Aug. 13. All teachers will report to their schools early with a districtwide training on Thursday and school-based trainings next week on Monday and Tuesday.
Interviews for some teaching jobs continued this week to fill open positions.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.