Hieserich is a third grade teacher at Liberty Elementary School in Big Lake.
He credits his professors at St. Cloud State University for preparing him for the transition, but it’s the support the university has given him after graduation that has made a difference in his first year of teaching.
As a graduate from the School of Education, Hieserich has access to support for the first three years of his teaching career through the Ignite Center’s New Teacher Workshops.
Held five times a year, the workshops follow the phases of a teacher’s first year in teaching, said Diane Moeller, Ignite Center executive director.
The workshops are free to all St. Cloud State education graduates as well as to all new teachers in the Ignite Center’s six partner districts.
The first workshop is held in August each year prior to the teachers’ first day in the classroom and gives new teachers a chance to build relationships with other new teachers, learn about classroom management strategies and learn about who they are as new teachers, said Beth Bergren-Mann, of the Ignite Center.
“The power is in new teachers coming together from across the region because they all have professional development in their own school districts, but this is where they get to network with other leaders they wouldn’t have an opportunity to meet staying in their own district,” Bergren-Mann said.
In October the workshop brings in veteran teachers to inspire discussions, and in December the topic focuses on stress reduction.
In February the workshop breaks teachers into separate sessions focused on the teacher’s individual areas of focus. The year ends with a celebration of the first year of teaching in April that features a dynamic keynote speaker, Bergren-Mann said, adding that Minnesota Teacher of the Year Abdul Wright presented the keynote address this April.
St. Cloud State has been putting on the new teacher workshops since 2011.
From the workshops, Hieserich has taken teaching techniques and pointers from other teachers back to his classroom.
The conversations are the most beneficial piece. Speaking with middle and high school education teachers gives a perspective of where these students are heading, he said.
“We are not alone, but a team, and together we can really make or break these students,” he said. “Talking with other teachers has helped keep me rejuvenated when I felt flustered or down on myself. We are all learning together, even though we aren’t in the same schools or districts.”