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New teacher navigates virtual learning

In a typical August, hundreds of new Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers would meet at the Spaugh Professional Development Center for new teacher orientation. They would gather together in the auditorium, get to know each other and get ready for their students. But everything has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


More than 500 new teachers participated in virtual training and a drive-through celebration this year. Renee Golz, director of beginning teacher development and support, said COVID-19 is an opportunity for new teachers. "The Beginning Teacher Development and Support team aligns support to the district's priorities, and the specialists and coordinators who make up the team do an excellent job making a big district small," said Golz. "It is such joy to support the resilience of beginning teachers to ensure their effectiveness, especially during such a unique time in the history of our schools."

Justin Humphries is one of those new teachers. He said his teaching career didn't start as planned, but he has no regrets. He's teaching third-grade language arts at Winterfield Elementary. "It is definitely stressful, but exciting," he said. "The kids are great and they are the best part."
Humphries found teaching in a nontraditional way. He was a social worker for almost seven years, investigating sexual abuse allegations for child protective services. "I was about at my wit's end with that," he said. "But I love working with kids, and teaching had always been something I wanted to do. I come from a family of educators, including my mom. They always told me I should go to college and be a teacher. I figured now was as good of a time as any."

Humphries applied for and was accepted to the CMS Teaching Residency program and was accepted. He said the resources for new teachers helped him prepare. "I missed the interaction with other new teachers, but it was overall a great process," he said. "I feel like all my questions were answered and I was as ready as I could be for my first day."

The virtual teaching days are long. Out of the 19 students in Humphries' homeroom, only two have parents that speak English. He works hard to develop those relationships and find creative ways to communicate with parents. "I am on Zoom all day, every day," he said. "But it is also rewarding when you get to see the kids. When they finally get , they light up - even on a Zoom call."

Classroom management in a virtual environment is a challenge. "The sentence I say the most is, 'You're muted,'" said Humphries. "I think I say that 300 or 400 times a day. But they are getting the hang of it. Third grade is a good age to start adapting to the technology and learning what's appropriate behavior."

Humphries said that the preparation of his school's administration helped him prepare for a new school year. "They set expectations that every teacher was going to use, and the kids are doing awesome with it," he said.

While he sees some great things happening in a virtual environment, Humphries looks forward to in-person learning. "I am looking forward to everything," he said. "Zoom can be exhausting. I want to be able to interact with the kids in person. That is the part I am looking forward to the most."
Even if he knew then what he knows now, Humphries would have no regrets about his career change to teaching. "I wish my first year wasn't like this, but it is out of our control," he said. "But I have loved every minute of it and know I made the right decision." 
In a typical August, hundreds of new Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers would meet at the Spaugh Professional Development Center for new teacher orientation. They would gather together in the auditorium, get to know each other and get ready for their students. But everything has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 500 new teachers participated in virtual training and a drive-through celebration this year. Renee Golz, director of beginning teacher development and support, said COVID-19 is an opportunity for new teachers. "The Beginning Teacher Development and Support team aligns support to the district's priorities, and the specialists and coordinators who make up the team do an excellent job making a big district small," said Golz. "It is such joy to support the resilience of beginning teachers to ensure their effectiveness, especially during such a unique time in the history of our schools."

Justin Humphries is one of those new teachers. He said his teaching career didn't start as planned, but he has no regrets. He's teaching third-grade language arts at Winterfield Elementary. "It is definitely stressful, but exciting," he said. "The kids are great and they are the best part."
Humphries found teaching in a nontraditional way. He was a social worker for almost seven years, investigating sexual abuse allegations for child protective services. "I was about at my wit's end with that," he said. "But I love working with kids, and teaching had always been something I wanted to do. I come from a family of educators, including my mom. They always told me I should go to college and be a teacher. I figured now was as good of a time as any."

Humphries applied for and was accepted to the CMS Teaching Residency program and was accepted. He said the resources for new teachers helped him prepare. "I missed the interaction with other new teachers, but it was overall a great process," he said. "I feel like all my questions were answered and I was as ready as I could be for my first day."

The virtual teaching days are long. Out of the 19 students in Humphries' homeroom, only two have parents that speak English. He works hard to develop those relationships and find creative ways to communicate with parents. "I am on Zoom all day, every day," he said. "But it is also rewarding when you get to see the kids. When they finally get , they light up - even on a Zoom call."

Classroom management in a virtual environment is a challenge. "The sentence I say the most is, 'You're muted,'" said Humphries. "I think I say that 300 or 400 times a day. But they are getting the hang of it. Third grade is a good age to start adapting to the technology and learning what's appropriate behavior."

Humphries said that the preparation of his school's administration helped him prepare for a new school year. "They set expectations that every teacher was going to use, and the kids are doing awesome with it," he said.

While he sees some great things happening in a virtual environment, Humphries looks forward to in-person learning. "I am looking forward to everything," he said. "Zoom can be exhausting. I want to be able to interact with the kids in person. That is the part I am looking forward to the most."
Even if he knew then what he knows now, Humphries would have no regrets about his career change to teaching. "I wish my first year wasn't like this, but it is out of our control," he said. "But I have loved every minute of it and know I made the right decision."


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Phone: 980-343-3000
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