Three IEA Members Lead by Example in Helping Early Career Educators
Providing professional support for new educators has been a point of emphasis for the IEA in recent years, but a member-driven initiative is taking that concept a step further. Spurred on by their own experiences as beginning teachers and a desire to ease the transition into the classroom for the next generation of educators, IEA members Lindsey Matthews (Lewiston), Erin Paradis (Vallivue), and Shelley Hopkins (Kuna) have led the formation of a new program that will deliver individual mentoring and other supports to early career educators.
With the moniker IGNITE (Idaho’s Growing Network of Inspired and Thriving Educators), the group is targeting beginning teachers who need some encouragement and guidance as they transition from college (or other careers) into full-time education professionals. “We are trying to provide the support that every new educator needs by giving them a confidante with whom they can have an open relationship,” says Matthews. “One of the toughest hurdles is being afraid and wanting to protect yourself instead of asking questions, so we are providing an avenue to ask questions without the feeling of judgement.” The goal is to pair up early career educators with experienced educators who can share insight on both classroom proficiency and Association activities.
IGNITE has already gotten the ball rolling with a presence at a SPARKS event in North Idaho and has big plans for the IEA Summer Institute in Lewiston (July 25-28) and back-to-school activities leading into the 2018-19 school year. They will host a special training at Summer Institute titled “Early Career Educators: Turning Passion into Plans”, plus recommend other sessions that will be most relevant to new educators, and host a social event on Thursday evening, July 26. For more information about the 2018 IEA Summer Institute, visit https://idahoea.org/summer-institute-2018/.
“I’m really excited about the potential for progress as well as the energy and success of what we have already seen,” says Paradis. “It is important to make this investment in our Early Career Educators and see how it builds the Association.” To that end, IGNITE is part of an Association-wide effort to bring multiple initiatives aimed at new educators under one umbrella. “Engaging with our Early Career Educators is critical,” says IEA President Kari Overall. “It is imperative that we have IGNITE, SPARKS, our student programs, our new educator campaign, and our targeted local association initiative working together to reach and support ECEs in Idaho.”
The IGNITE leadership group has worked diligently on ideas and plans, including attending NEA-led events that have given them a head start on building capacity and enthusiasm. With assistance from IEA Region Directors David Tjaden and Jason McKinley, Lindsey, Erin, and Shelley have completely bought in to the IGNITE mission. “I have never worked on a team this efficient,” says Matthews. “Everyone has their own strengths, and we are able to come up with plans, draft and edit pieces, and champion for each other.” Hopkins adds, “within the cloud of passion and strife that hangs over all educators these days, by getting more involved and joining this committee, I have been inspired to become a better educator, a better association member, and a better human being.”
Are you an early career educator ready to get more involved? Or a veteran IEA member interested in more resources for supporting and engaging early career educators in your building or local association? Then e-mail IGNITE@idahoea.org for more information.