Since 2014, all new teachers who join the Tempe Elementary School District family are trained to utilize Thinking Maps in their classrooms. However, several schools have been implementing the Thinking Maps training for over 10 years, making it an integral part of classroom instruction at our schools.
On September 15, Tempe Elementary trained approximately 50 new elementary teachers and an additional 40 new middle school teachers on how to implement Thinking Maps as part of our annual Growing As Professionals (GAP) Day.
The all-day training helped our new teachers become more familiar with the Thinking Maps concept and covered techniques on how to get students to utilize the maps.
New Teacher Induction Specialist Lisa Malicke visits all 22 of our Tempe Elementary schools on a regular basis to offer support to teachers in preschool to eighth-grade. Malicke helps support our new teachers by co-planning, co-teaching, mentoring, providing instructional feedback, classroom management ideas, and much more. Malicke helped lead the middle school Thinking Maps session at GAP Day.
“Getting to spend time with our new teachers for training is one of the best parts of my job,” said Malicke. “I love to see them excited about teaching.”
According to the Thinking Maps Learning Community, “Thinking Maps are consistent visual patterns linked directly to eight specific thought processes. By visualizing our thinking, we create concrete images of abstract thoughts. These patterns help all students reach higher levels of critical and creative thinking – essential components of 21st century education. In a school-wide implementation, Thinking Maps establish a consistent language for learning.”
Along with providing concrete examples of the concept, the Thinking Maps training also provided many opportunities for teacher collaboration. Teachers were provided time to work together to dig deeper into their own grade-level content and find times during daily instruction where Thinking Maps could be integrated. Tempe Elementary Instructional Coach Elizabeth Rose was one of the leaders of the elementary Thinking Maps session.
“This is one of my favorite trainings to implement because it’s so interactive!” said Rose. “The information is also very useful and can be applied to classroom instruction right away. I love to walk through classrooms afterwards and see all the ways the Thinking Maps are being used.”
Teachers were also excited about the collaboration that the training session provided.
“Collaborating with other teachers, especially who teach the same grade level is very helpful,” said Holdeman Fifth-Grade Teacher Justin Pothast.
“I really like how hands-on and accessible the information is,” said Fees College Prep Eighth-Grade Language Arts Teacher Sylvia Smith. “It’s a good balance of working with my team from Fees College Prep as well as working with new teachers. We’re all working toward the same goal.”
The five-hour training was just the beginning of the Thinking Maps journey for our new teachers. Their knowledge and understanding will continue to grow as they implement Thinking Maps during their lessons and attend follow-up trainings on October 27 and December 1.
“From this initial training, I hope our new teachers are prepared to utilize Thinking Maps themselves as well as support student use,” said Malicke. “Our goal is for students to build critical and creative thinking skills by moving beyond the worksheet.”