Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter

April 2015

Nobles Parents' Newsletter April 2015

Full Circle by Dean of Faculty Maura Sullivan

When asked how long I have been working at Nobles, it isn’t unusual for me to get a look of surprise when I reveal that I have been here for 26 years. The looks continue when people find out that I started my career at Nobles as a teaching fellow. I remember walking through the front doors of the schoolhouse in the fall of that first school year, all of 22 years old, wondering what I had gotten myself into, but excited to get started. While most of that year is a blur to me, I do recall ultimately realizing two things: that I was getting great experience and that teaching was what I wanted to continue to do with my life.

The teaching fellows program has evolved and become much more formalized in the years since I started. However, what has continued is a wonderful program that not only brings tremendous benefits to the school but also gives young educators an invaluable springboard into the world of independent school teaching. The teaching fellows contribute to our community in a myriad of ways. Just this year alone, the job description of the combined TF group looks something like the following: teaching classes, co-teaching classes, teaching PD, helping in the admission office, coaching teams, working with our community service program, costuming for the theater performances, supervising the yearbook, proctoring study halls during the academic day as well as in the dorm at night, giving endless hours of extra help, running clubs and organizations, chaperoning trips/activities/dances, and serving as informal mentors to countless young people.

Each year, Nobles hires a handful of teaching fellows. The disciplines in which we hire these fellows varies from year to year, depending on our needs (sabbatical absences, extra section of a course to cover, maternity leaves, etc.). Once hired, we do a great deal of mentoring these young teachers, both before we begin the school year but also once we get started. Each teaching fellow responsible for teaching their own course is in touch with the department head or core leader during the summer to get all the materials they need and to go through the course syllabus. Before they arrive, they are each assigned a faculty mentor who helps them to navigate the Nobles world, both in and out of the classroom. Once they are here, there is a faculty member who leads a weekly seminar for all the fellows and guides them in educational philosophy as well as practical classroom methodology. That faculty member also observes each teaching fellow in the classroom several times during the course of the school year and then meets with them to reflect on their teaching. Finally, each teaching fellow is also required to visit the classrooms of experienced teachers, both in and out of their disciplines, to observe what they do well. Our goal is that during the course of the year, these young teachers will be exposed to many different styles, will engage in countless discussions about teaching, and will come away from the year with a greatly expanded teaching “toolkit.”

Teaching fellows are generally hired for a one-year commitment. On occasion, when the situation presents itself, we extend that into a longer stay for some individuals, which is what happened in my case. In fact, there are several faculty members at Nobles who started as TFs, including our head of school! Spring is hiring season at Nobles, and as we continue to interview and hire our teaching fellows for next year, it is exciting to think about all the ways in which they will contribute to the fabric of the school. The hope is that they will gain and grow from this experience just as much, if not more so. I certainly did!

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