Now imagine what it's like for a new teacher.
"Yes, it can be overwhelming," said Christie Kerr, a second-year English teacher at Liberty High. "But now I've switched over to the side of a mentor for incoming teachers … I'm excited to be here."
Kerr is just one of many mentors who are part of a group called the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) program, a two-year mandatory program for new teachers and credential-bound instructors. Through it, first-time teachers receive guidance, support and hands-on mentoring to make their transition from novice educator to credentialed professional as seamless as possible.
"The BTSA program is a guided growth program whose goal is to provide the best quality classroom teachers possible," said Karen Neilson, director of the BTSA Induction Program for Far East Contra Costa County. "But it also offers a great deal of support on an emotional level for these teachers as well."
Although the statewide program is nearly 14 years old, it is relatively new to East County. Now in its sixth year in the Liberty Union School District, the BTSA program is comprised of weekly mentoring and support get-togethers, as well as monthly group meetings and activities.
The induction program offers new teachers an opportunity to learn, brainstorm and share. And that, says Kandy Aldana, district liaison for the BTSA program at Liberty High, is the true goal.
"Being a new teacher is a lot like joining a new company, I would imagine," said Aldana. "Teachers are often handed a key to a classroom and that's it. It is easy to feel overwhelmed. I think the idea of having a mentor for these teachers is wonderful."
Since the implementation of No Child Left Behind legislation, the BTSA program has been working even harder to get its teachers comfortable, competent and qualified. And while the program is still working out some kinks regarding paperwork and time commitments, the objective of BTSA remains worthwhile.
"We don't want to give them (teachers) more to do," said Aldana. "We're working on making it more user-friendly. We want to increase the integrity of our teachers and our program. But it really is a great program."