Table Talk- A Beginning Teacher Opportunity

Research shows pairing experienced educators with novice teachers provides valuable professional development for both parties as well as increases the retention of those who are new to the field (Holloway, “The Benefits of Mentoring”). According to former WV State Superintendent Michael Martirano, in 2017 West Virginia had “718 teacher vacancies across the state, [which] means our young people are not receiving the quality education they deserve by a quality teacher” (WV Metro News, 2017). While this number of vacancies has decreased somewhat since Dr. Martirano declared the situation at crisis level, vacancies still loom large, particularly in math and science disciplines. With increased support and an empathetic space to share grievances and offer guidance, we believe we can help retain and increase the effectiveness of new educators. To this end, we have developed the “Table Talk” project, which seeks to provide advice and support to educators embarking on their first, second, or third year of teaching in a safe, informal setting every other week. In this pilot project, modeled after Philadelphia’s program “The Fellowship: Black Male Educators for Social Justice,” retired teacher Ms. Becca Revercomb will identify 6-15 novice teachers who lead K-5 th grade primary and intermediate classrooms in TGKVF’s six-county region. To identify and recruit participants, Ms. Revercomb will coordinate directly with elementary school principals from schools serving poverty-stricken communities. Ms. Revercomb will then schedule dinner meetings and facilitate conversations among those teacher participants on a bi-monthly basis from 4-5pm at convenient locations, such as Panera Bread at the Charleston Town Center Mall.

The launch dinner date is anticipated for early October of the 2018-2019 academic school year (approximately 8-10 weeks into session, thus giving new teachers time to acclimate themselves in their classrooms). Short-term success will be measured through bi-monthly teacher attendance and retention in the program as well as growth through referral and word-of-mouth. Additionally, Ms. Revercomb will ask the teachers what they hope to get out of the program and thus outcome achievement and measurement will also be based on those individual responses. Long-term success will be measured by program growth and teacher retention in the region.

WHO: Teachers in their first, second, or third year of teaching K-5th grade at any public elementary school in Lincoln, Boone, Clay, Fayette, Kanawha, or Putnam counties.

WHAT: A free bi-monthly dinner with other new teachers and a retired teacher with more than 35 years of classroom experience to share opportunities, challenges, best practices, lessons learned, and empathy

WHY: To give new teachers an opportunity to share successes and challenges with other new teachers; to benefit from the advice and wisdom of an experienced teacher; to build a peer network that will assist with support and retention of new teachers

WHERE: Panera Bread at the Town Center Mall and other dinner locations TBD

WHEN: Every other Thursday beginning in early October from 4-5pm Supported by The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation

To learn more or sign up for this program, please contact Ms. Becca Revercomb at beccarev@gmail.com.