Teaching new teachers for success

NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA - August 2, 2010 "As a group what is it that we like about the round tables, for students to easily be able to change perspective, ok."

"You can change the arrangement, if you want to have two rows facing each other you can do it."

This was just a portion of a discussion that sounds like it's about interior design but the lesson wasn't for aesthetics.

"When you walk into a class you think the janitor set it up so they can easily mop the floor, or do whatever. You have the power to change the classroom," said Shameeka Browne, Strong Beginnings instructor.

And changing that classroom could determine the success of an entire semester.

Seating was just one of many techniques being taught by instructors from the Strong Beginnings Program. Helping teachers make it through their first year in one of the toughest school districts.

"I had experiences where I had to call school police to have kids escorted out of the classroom," said Denise Ledden.

So far, Ledden's experience as an English teacher at South Philadelphia High School was nothing like she expected.

"While college is great, you don't learn about that kid that tells you to go stick it where the sun don't shine."

Nationwide 15-percent of teachers like Ledden give up in the first year and in the city it's only worse, just last year more than 200 teachers quit without giving any notice.

"There are too many of our teachers who are quitting, who are saying they are not prepared, and we want to give them a strong start, hence the name, Strong Beginnings," said Browne.

The techniques being taught have been tested in school districts across the country and it's giving these teachers hope.

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