The UNCP region coaches (Shanita Anderson, Denise Hunt, and Carissa Rosenblum) were asked to be featured guests on a panel discussion at the College of Education at UNC-Pembroke. Participants were comprised of pre-service teachers who are on the cusp of entering the teaching workforce. The team unanimously decided that understanding and accepting all students should be emphasized during this session.
As attendees came into the lecture hall, they were greeted by a bowl of fruit on the table. Next to the bowl was a sign that said, “Pick Me!” Many giggled and refused to take a piece of fruit because this was not your beautiful, ripe, delicious fruit. Instead, the students were offered moldy, rancid, inedible fruit. Needless to say, the fruit served as a means to garner participants’ attention.
To build on the theme of accepting all students, the panel started off with the, “The Blueberry Story.” In this story, Jamie Vollmer, a former business executive, recites the day that he learned a very valuable lesson: while he assumed that what he did in the business world could be easily reproduced in the world of education, he was very wrong in his assumption. Mr. Vollmer was part of group of business people who were dedicated to improving public schools, and he was making a speech in front of teachers in which he regaled the audience with his personal story of developing a successful ice cream company.
Once his speech was over, an interesting Q & A session started, and Mr. Vollmer was challenged in his beliefs by a teacher. She boldly asked if he could willingly toss away less than stellar ingredients for his world-renowned ice-cream. When he answered that yes, he could remove those ingredients that did not meet his criteria, the teacher immediately pounced. She quickly reminded him that teachers didn’t have the luxury of sending back inferior ingredients and that the public school system took all children, regardless of their circumstances.
After reading “The Blueberry Story”, the panelists asked the pre-service teachers to make a connection between the bowl of fruit and the story they had just heard. They understood that while they had an option this time to take the fruit, in the classroom they will not be able to choose only the students that they feel comfortable teaching. They will have to teach every student with the same passion and fervor, regardless of the students’ abilities. While the fruit offerings may have initially seemed out of place, once the discussion started, the students quickly made the connection between the rotten fruit and the focus of the panel discussion.
Following this part of the presentation was a lively question and answer session. The pre-service teachers were extremely interested in the New Teacher Support Program and wanted to know about the roles of the coaches and if they could expect to see the coaches in their classrooms next year. Tia Green stated, “The program provides guidance, instructional coaching, resources, professional development, and instructional skills. By being aware of this program, I know my biggest concern of getting support is resolved. I know that if I need access to resources, advice, or even help with lesson plans or classroom management, my coach will be there to support me.”
The panel discussion provided an opportunity for pre-service teachers to ask some burning questions they had about their future roles as teachers, and the panelists were more than happy to provide answers. One participant noted that, “The panelists were amazing and personable- all questions were answered in depth and all three panelists contributed their own information and personal stories.” A good time was had by all-participants and panelists.
For more information about the NC NTSP, click here.Perspective