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Friday, April 12, 2013

Georgia Teaching Fellow Shares His Experience: Where Do I Go from Here?


Where Do I Go from Here?
by Darold E. Footé, Ph.D.

When I was finished my doctoral research on the achievement gap in the southeastern United States, I started looking for a way to put what I’d learned through academics into practical use. I wanted to join the movement to diminish the critical academic deficit that students in low income areas face. I was regularly asking myself, “Where do I go from here?” and was searching for options. Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to make a concrete difference by becoming a teacher.


After a conscientious investigation of many certification programs, I found Georgia Teaching Fellows and its branch in Atlanta. It was by far the most credible platform to launch my teacher preparation campaign.

I chose Georgia Teaching Fellows as my pathway to teaching because of it offers significant resources, is a structured and highly selective program, provides innovative training for teacher excellence, and has a data-driven, rigorous approach for academic achievement outcomes. This is exactly what I needed. My empowering experience began with an intense, professional interview. After I was accepted into the program, I relocated from Puerto Rico to Atlanta to begin my summer training program.

Summer training was a full immersion process into the discipline of classroom education. I learned how to maintain high expectations for my students both in the quality of their academic work and in their behavior. I received an introduction to several different learning theories. I was exposed to a plethora of literary and technological resources and a structured format of quality instruction. What I appreciated most as a learner was that the program hosted a constructivist approach to training; our sessions were hands-on, collaborative, and based on authentic experiences. It was not too long after the program began that I realized that I was in the right place at the right time. There’s no better feeling for an educator.

I successfully completed the summer program and was immediately hired as a sixth grade, Special Education teacher of English Language Arts. I was prepared for this opportunity because of my intensive training with GTF.
As a special educator, I have several different responsibilities. I teach five different classes. Two of my classes are resource classes; for these, I am the lead instructor working with a small group of students who need lots of individual attention. I also do some team teaching with another English teacher in a larger classroom setting. Team teaching is a great opportunity for students with special needs to be integrated in a traditional classroom setting, but still get the differentiation support that they need to be successful.
Because of the rigorous training, practical help, and unlimited exposure I still receive from GTF’s teacher coaching staff, I am experiencing success as an educator. I am constantly encouraged knowing that I have not simply been cast into the professional sea of teaching to sink or swim. I benefit from current, frequent classroom visits, on-site coaching, classroom evaluations, numerous emails, and the accessibility and prompt responses from site staff. The only way I could fail in this professional endeavor would by through deliberate choice. As a result of the quality of the ongoing support from GTF staff, my success an effective educator is inevitable. Thanks, Georgia Teaching Fellows!



Darold E. Foote', Ph.D.
Language Arts Educator
Fulton County School District



Looking for a meaningful career in education? Georgia Teaching Fellows seeks career changers and recent college grads to become teachers in Greater Atlanta.  To learn more and apply, visit http://georgiateachingfellows.ttrack.org/ .

The Next Application Deadline is April 15, 2013.  Admissions into the program are on a rolling basis until April 22, 2013. 
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