Teachers College Columbia University

Surviving the Semester: Meeting the Needs of Early Career Teachers

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About the course

Teaching is a complex yet rewarding profession. At the start, new teachers can be overwhelmed by its myriad demands. Based on a popular Teachers College workshop series, this online course gets right to the essential, practical skills new teachers need in order succeed at the helm of their own classrooms. It focuses on three essential topics:

  • What makes an effective teacher
  • Fostering effective student-centered discussions
  • How to teach reading and writing in every academic subject

As a result of taking this course, teachers will be able to:

  • Construct an understanding of teaching literacy across disciplines
  • Explore the Danielson framework for excellent teaching
  • Learn academic conversation protocols that boost students’ questioning and discussion

Course Outline

Module 1: Measuring Up: What are our expectations of ourselves as teachers?

This module invites teachers to begin the essential self-reflective work that will help them develop a strong teaching practice. After completing this module, participants will be able to articulate and critically assess ideas about teachers and teaching that are common in popular culture as well as the extent to which they have internalized or rejected them.

Module 2: Digging into Danielson

This module guides teachers through the research-based vision of effective teaching articulated by Charlotte Danielson in her Framework for Teaching, which is widely used across the United States to evaluate teacher performance. Participants will explore Danielson Domain 2: Classroom Environment in particular and consider the rules, rituals and routines that teachers can use to foster a classroom community and culture that promotes learning. Participants will also take a closer look at Danielson Domain 3: Instruction and delve into the philosophy of learning and teaching upon which it is based. After completing this module, participants will have created an inventory of classroom management moves and crafted a learning task designed to maximize student engagement.

Module 3: Compelling Questions and Academic Conversations in the Classroom

This module zooms in on Danielson component 3b: Questioning and Discussion. This can be the most challenging facet of instruction, as it compels teachers to shift from the traditional notion of a teacher as the “sage on the stage” to the newer conception of the teacher as the “guide on the side.” In this module, teachers will explore a range of academic conversation protocols designed to boost students’ engagement and learning, and plan a lesson incorporating one of these protocols. They will also generate and evaluate lists of questions related to one of their units of instruction. After completing this module, teachers will have the tools to foster rigorous yet student-centered discussions in their classrooms.

Module 4: Literacy Across the Disciplines

Regardless of the academic content, students’ learning is contingent upon their ability to access the material. Put another way, all teachers are reading teachers. In this module, teachers will explore a range of pre-, during-, and post-reading instructional moves that they can use in their classrooms to support their students’ discipline-specific reading and writing skills. They will design two lesson plans: one incorporating a pedagogical structure that supports readers, and the other incorporating a pedagogical structure that supports writers. After completing this module, teachers will have a better understanding of how to teach literacy across academic disciplines.

Module 5: Summation and Synthesis

In this module, participants will review the pedagogical structures presented in the course and create action plans to implement them in their classrooms. After completing this module, teachers will have charted a new, more effective course for their teaching practice reflecting the material taught in this course.

Who should attend

Early career teachers

Trust the experts

Brian Veprek

Brian Veprek's role as a Senior Professional Development Advisor has synthesized his background as a classroom teacher and theater artist to cultivate dynamic project-based learning experiences for students, teachers, and school leaders. Brian earned an EdM in Learning and Teaching from the Harva...


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