Meghan Stein grew up in Irvine, CA, where she attended a community Jewish day school as a child. As she was completing her undergraduate work at the University of Kansas, she started researching teaching accreditation programs, and found out about DeLeT. The program seemed perfect for her, and she was thrilled when she was accepted.
According to Meghan, the most distinctive feature of DeLeT is the amount of support that each fellow receives. Other teaching programs she had considered had a “sink or swim” attitude, and it seemed like their participants had to deal with many first-year-teacher challenges on their own. In DeLeT, Meghan noted that there is a high level of communication among the fellows, mentors, and clinical educators, and a constant flow of honest feedback and support. Also, the program is designed so that the fellows teach when they are ready—they spend the first portion of the year watching their mentor teachers, learning a significant amount by careful observation and specific questions, and take the lead during classroom instruction only when they feel ready to do so. Meghan has found this to be specifically helpful as she works to shape her persona as a teacher.
Meghan was a day school student herself, so there were some aspects of her DeLeT year that she was able to properly predict. She knew how likely it was that the school she would work at would have a close-knit and family-like community. She also knew how involved and supportive her students’ parents could be, and how small the class-sizes might be. However, there were some things she had not anticipated. Like others who are in the DeLeT program this year, Meghan is surprised at the level of personal closeness and collegiality established among the members of Cohort 12. Also, she was not expecting how much she would benefit from the abundance of feedback she has received so far this year. She feels that every piece of the DeLeT program is geared at making her a better teacher.
Meghan has two phenomenal mentor teachers this year: Debbi Seligman for general studies, and Kaylee Frager for Judaic studies. Though their teaching styles are different, they are both quite effective. Since Debbi and Kaylee are both part of Wornick’s fourth grade team, Meghan has the opportunity to see how the dynamic among the same group of students can change depending on choices made by their teachers. She notes that while one class has a lot of structure and the other class is very free-flowing, students are engaged and successful in both settings. Meghan is looking forward to further developing her teaching voice and figuring out what dynamic she will have in her own future classroom.
As Meghan nears the end of her coursework in the DeLeT program and looks to the future, there are many tenets that she holds that she hopes to embody for the rest of her teaching career. She acknowledges the importance of receiving feedback from others and reflecting on her own teaching, and she hopes that she continues this practice, and does not fall into the common trap of falling into a teaching “routine.” Her goal is to be as willing to step out of her comfort zone and grow in five or ten years as she is now. She is very much looking forward to honing her teaching voice, and to staying true to her values.