It’s 8:45 on a quintessential New England fall morning, and I look around our seminar room at the faces of our fifteen newly-inducted teacher interns. Some are sipping coffee, others are tapping on their laptops, while many others are visiting and catching up with colleagues they haven’t seen in a week. It’s only September, but their faces and body language are not as sunny as the weather. I can tell that already some of the expected anxiety and uncertainty has started to bubble up. After all, our interns have been thrust into an unfamiliar school, a new classroom, and many have started teaching lessons even though they’re still figuring out just exactly what it means to be a teacher.  I’m sure I’ll be having a few empathetic conversations later today.

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I was fortunate to visit the opening days of school for two 2017 UVEI Principal Intern Program graduates last week. These schools are quite different: one a middle/high school and one a small rural elementary school. Demographics aside, I was struck by the feeling of hope coming from the administrators, teachers and students. I stood near to Laurie Greenberg, now the assistant principal at Mt. Abraham, as she and her colleagues greeted incoming seventh graders for their first day of orientation. The energy from all parties was palpable. The start of the new school year is the start of a new chapter where you can, as an educator and as a student, take what you learned last year and build on it. In a sense, you have the opportunity to become a better you just from the opportunity that a clearly delineated beginning and end of a school year offers.

In spending time with Laurie, I reflected on her ability to connect with her colleagues and students and her practices to cultivate these relationships. Her goals for the year are to focus on building trust by deliberately creating opportunities to know and understand those she will be working with. Here are a few of the ways Laurie plans to make meaningful connections this school year:

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Matt McCormick Opens This Year's Spotlight Classroom:

This year, UVEI is shining a spotlight on a teacher whose instructional practices are particularly worth observing. At UVEI’s annual Innovations in Education Forum, we announced our 2017-2018 spotlight classroom: Matt McCormick’s 7th grade Humanities class at Woodstock Middle School in Woodstock Vermont.

Matt is blowing the doors to his classroom wide open (answering the #ObserveMe call to action) for anyone to visit and observe. However, it's a symbiotic relationship: Matt wants feedback. Teaching can be a lonely profession; teachers don't usually get a lot of feedback from fellow practitioners. So if you choose to participate, email him (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for good times to observe.

At the Innovations in Education Forum, I was able to interview Matt to find out more about his practice. What motivates him to improve, and what surprises him about middle school-aged kids?

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