A Conversation with Residency Triad: Kit Philips, Andrea Ziegler, and Laura Donnelly
Kit Philips Center
Kindergarten Mentor Teacher, Howe School of Excellence
Augustana College, ‘07
Laura Donnelly Left
University of Cincinnati, ‘08
Andrea Ziegler Right
DePaul University, ‘12
Why did you choose the AUSL network?
Kit: I liked the idea of AUSL. They seemed to be very collaborative, their teachers seemed to work together, and I also liked their mission and vision. I wanted to be a part of a program that was involved in moving students.
What made you decide to become a mentor?
Kit: I was asked to be a mentor by my principal and went to meeting to find out a little bit more about it. I liked the idea of working with other people and being able to help train teachers that are going to have a huge impact on our kids.
What do you enjoy most about being a mentor?
Kit: The collaboration between myself and the residents. I like to be able to sit down and talk with them about how the students are doing, to look at work together, and to plan lessons. The three of us, together, can create some pretty amazing things for our students.
Why did you choose the Chicago Teacher Residency?
Andrea: I chose AUSL over the other programs because you get a full year of training. One of the scariest things, in my opinion, would be getting in front of the students and not having any idea what to do. After starting this year— because I’m an MAT and did not have an education background— if I would have been thrown into a classroom not having this year of training, I really don’t know if I would have been able to make it. Even people who do an undergraduate in education don’t get a full year. We get a full year of training from somebody who is pretty much an expert teacher.
Laura: I also thought that the year of training was an attractive benefit. Additionally, when I started to understand what this program is about, it really seemed extra supportive. So not only am I having a full year in the classroom, but it’s a very supportive full year where I can look in any direction and seek help if I need it.
What do each of you enjoy most about working with your mentor and your co-resident? How has working in a triad impacted the learning process for you?
Andrea: I think that the collaboration is the best part. If I’m not sure of something, I can call up my co-resident so we can talk it through or I can call up my mentor. I have a lot of different people looking in on how I teach, and they can help me fix what I need to improve.
Laura: Definitely the support. I feel like I’m not alone in this. If I feel like I’ve had a really bad day, often my mentor and partner will say, “yeah, it was a rough day— for everybody.” That makes me feel better.
What were you most nervous about going into this program, and how has that played out over the residency year?
Andrea: The first thing that pops into my mind, which isn’t necessarily a deep thought, is the videotaping. I thought that I would hate being constantly watched, being videotaped, observed, and critiqued. It’s almost a second nature now. I expect it, and when it happens I know that it helps me and I can grow from it.
Laura: It feels like so long ago that I was applying and thinking about what made me anxious. I think I was really nervous about being able to get a handle on behavior in the classroom. I was expecting a lot of unruly kids, and it just wasn’t what I pictured. I’m definitely not concerned about that anymore.
What’s some advice you would give to someone who is considering the Chicago Teacher Residency?
Andrea: Be organized. I am not a very organized person— still not extremely organized— but you definitely need to be organized. You have so much going on, like being in the classroom and making sure you’re ready for your own classroom next year, but then you also have to worry about your coursework and balancing all of it with your life outside of the residency.
Laura: I second that. I would also say that you need to have some kind of time management skills because mine are really lacking, and the program is all-consuming unless you can manage your time well.
Finally, what has been a significant or memorable experience for you so far in this school year?
Andrea: I’ve told this story to multiple people. It’s the story of one of our students who came in and she was in kindergarten but she couldn’t even really hold a pencil. Now she’s reading on her own. Just seeing our students grow, I think that’s the most memorable thing about this school year.
Laura: Lots of memorable things are happening all the time. Everyday something happens where I think, “Oh I have to remember that.” Whether it’s in terms of strategy or something that someone has done, it’s helpful. I just log it in my brain and hope that I can pull up the notes or pull up the memory when I need it.
Kit: I think my most memorable moment was the first week of school when the residents had to teach a fifteen-minute community-building exercise and remembering the anxiety they had over being around all the kids for fifteen minutes. Seeing their growth in just a few months— now they’re teaching for days at a time on their own— I just like to remember that first lesson and realize how much they’ve grown in such a short time.
Posted on March 2, 2016 by AUSL Chicago