Preparing Independent School Teachers

Independent school teachers typically have deep knowledge of their content areas, but many novices have little or no formal experience in the classroom. To help prepare and support those entering the profession, associations of independent schools across the country offer a variety of programs.

New Teacher Institute

Independent school teachers typically have deep knowledge of their content areas, but many novices have little or no formal experience in the classroom. To help prepare and support those entering the profession, associations of independent schools across the country offer a variety of programs.

The Virginia Association of Independent Schools has been sponsoring a New Teacher Institutefor more than twenty years. Veteran teachers from around the state gather for a residential week in early August with as many as sixty new teachers to provide information, advice, and hands-on experience. The mission of NTI is “to inspire, equip, and challenge talented individuals to teach.”

Independent schools typically encourage teachers to be involved in a community that extends beyond the classroom, so new teachers may elect to focus on topics such as advisories, life in boarding school, and coping with learning differences as well as fundamental and universal areas of focus, such as curriculum planning and classroom management.

An agenda of a week at NTI

Teachers at NTI learn through a variety of formats: lecture, small group discussion, individual work, role plays, demonstrations, and teaching slices of lessons. The faculty strives to convey important and valuable information in ways that reinforce good teaching itself. As the week progresses, novice teachers take increasing responsibility for leadership by preparing specific units and lessons and practicing teaching before their peers.

In August 2009, the faculty of NTI, many of whom have taught in this institute together for more than ten years, gathered before student teachers arrived to discuss their thoughts on entering this challenging and rewarding profession. Their discussion, along with clips from NTI sessions that followed that week, provides a window into one group’s efforts to welcome and prepare the next generation of independent school teachers.

Information about NTI faculty members

The cases in this series have been designed as an extension of NTI to provide continuing support for independent school teachers, particularly throughout the first five years. Cases were designed to highlight potentially challenging issues that might benefit from thoughtful anticipation and discussion. In this first case, the veteran faculty of NTI discuss some of the key points for new teachers in independent schools.


What do teachers most need to know? [dial-up OR broadband]


What are the best parts of the first year? [dial-up OR broadband]


Preparation and flexibility [dial-up OR broadband]


When are you in over your head? [dial-up OR broadband]


What makes teaching unique? [dial-up OR broadband]


Professional development [dial-up OR broadband]


Preparing new teachers [dial-up OR broadband]


Why is teaching important? [dial-up OR broadband]