New teachers are making a difference
MTA president urges conference participants to become activists
By Scott McLennan
T he roughly 100 educators attending the Just for New Teachers conference may be fresh to the profession, but they are already
having a profound influence in their classrooms and
throughout public education.
That was part of the message conveyed by
speakers during the 2014 edition of the event, which
was held in Norwood on Dec. 5.
MTA President Barbara Madeloni congratulated
the new teachers for coming into the profession
at a difficult time. She stressed the importance of
presenting a unified front against influences that seek
to undermine public schools.
“Teachers need to be activists. This is the work
where we grow our future,” she said, emphasizing
that a teacher’s work ripples out beyond the
MTA Vice President Janet Anderson focused
her comments on the dynamics within schools. She
recalled her past few years of teaching in Taunton,
where she was on teams with many new teachers.
“The veteran teacher on a team like that is
viewed as the mentor. And while I like to think I
fulfilled that role for my colleagues, in the end, I feel
I learned just as much from them. Their energy, their
fresh ideas and their excitement made me a better
teacher,” Anderson said.
The MTA’s New Member Committee organized
the annual conference, which provides teachers with
four or fewer years in the profession with an array
of tools and strategies to succeed in the classroom.
Workshops covered subjects such as differentiated
instruction, classroom management, assessing
student performance and teacher evaluations.
There was also lots of advice. New teachers
should start a “smile file,” said New Member
Committee Chair Josh Chrzanowski.
“Keep the notes, pictures and cards students give
you throughout your career. When you go through it,
you’ll think, ‘This is why I teach,’” he said. “It’s not
about test scores and grades. It’s to make a difference
in a child’s life.”
M adeloni said the gathering of new teachers was a powerful image of hope, and she couched her professional advice in two
“I understand how lonely we feel sometimes. So,
don’t let it be a lonely job. Reach out to a colleague.
Talk to each other,” Madeloni said.
Her second request was that educators stay
involved in organizing.
Teaching is political work, particularly now,
Madeloni said, with many initiatives attempting
to narrow educators’ work and put public schools
into private hands. Beyond that, she reminded the
educators that anguish in communities is carried by
students into their classrooms.
“Our students are trying to figure out how to be
a person in the world,” she said. “What you do in the
classroom is part of something bigger.”
Keynote speaker Beau Stubblefield-Tave
focused on cultural fluency as he worked through
exercises in which the teachers identified how they
Beau Stubblefield-Tave, left, focused on
cultural fluency in his keynote speech.
Above, New Member Committee Chair Josh
Chrzanowski welcomed the new teachers to
the conference, which was held in Norwood.
Please turn to Workshop leader/Page 30
Alex Dos Santos, a member of the Student Education Association of Massachusetts chapter at Bridgewater State University, above left, took notes
during a workshop at the Just for New Teachers conference. At right, Michael Milton of the New Member Committee, who is a social studies teacher
at Burlington High School, spoke to participants about differentiating instruction.
Photos by Scott McLennan