As teacher shortages reach crisis proportions, the country’s schools are struggling with a double burden of hiring well-prepared new teachers and keeping them from leaving the profession. Many schools, particularly in urban areas, have turned to formal training and support programs for prospective teachers to ease the crucial first year for many, according to a new study. The study claims that the scope and quality of these induction programs are of unprecedented importance given the nationwide need for teachers.
The turnover rate among new teachers is fueling schools’ hiring needs. Nationwide, more than 19 percent of new teachers leave the classroom within three years. Almost 11 percent drop out in the first year alone. This is one of the reasons for the projected need for 198,000 new teachers per year over the next decade, with demand being highest in urban areas.
The school districts that responded to a new survey reported an average retention rate of 89 percent for teachers who participate in their induction programs. The data clearly shows the importance of induction programs to reduce high teacher turnover and bridge the gap between teacher preparation and classroom reality.
Although more new teachers receive support, guidance and formal training during their crucial first year in the classroom, the study found that the definition of their induction experience varies widely. Despite widespread acceptance of the idea of formal initiation, the quality and scope of the programs range “from comprehensive to superficial”.
For example, the study found that mentoring by experienced teachers is one of the most common activities cited by school districts as part of their induction programs. But the roles, responsibilities, training, and use of mentors vary widely across school systems. In addition, not all districts offer time off, scholarships, credit, tuition, or other incentives for mentorship. While 88 percent of school districts described their programs as “formal, thorough, and sustainable,” more than a quarter of them said their programs did not serve all new teachers.
In education, teachers who make the transition from novice to seasoned pro often do so by navigating uncharted waters on their own. What new teachers experience is in stark contrast to the experiences of interns, attorneys, and even novice basketball players who must undergo extended training, development, and mentoring during their respective induction periods. Few areas of the professional development continuum are as important as the introductory years.
Nationwide, more than 49 percent of first-year public school teachers participate in some type of induction program, while the participation rate for new teachers hired to work in city schools rises to 58 percent.
The study found that induction programs improve the knowledge, skills, and performance of new teachers, provide one-on-one support, introduce new teachers to school system norms and procedures, and familiarize them with school system values. As states have become more active in pushing for teacher quality, school districts have taken the lead in establishing and coordinating induction programs with or without state funding. The study found that 79 percent of the programs were administered by school district staff, typically without college (or other) partners.
Among the recommendations for federal, state and local policy makers and school leaders to consider when developing policies and strategies to meet the needs of beginning teachers:
– View the introduction as a multi-year development process. Recruits have different needs as they progress through stages of their career development, ranging from basic survival to teacher leadership.
– Train principals to understand how to guide and support initiates. School leaders need to be effectively trained to create supportive working conditions, develop mentoring and informal support relationships, allocate classrooms, and identify and respond to the professional needs of the recruits.
– Establish a world-class mentoring program supported by sufficient funding to serve all eligible applicants. A formal process should be put in place to identify and train high quality class teachers to work with and mentor newly admitted students on a regular basis. Mentors should be given time off to observe, coach and demonstrate lessons and attend meetings. They should be offered stipends to cover their time and materials, assistance from district coordinators, and annual evaluations.
– Linking new teacher ratings to district and state standards. The initiate’s performance appraisal should be both formative (for improvement) and summative (for decisions about employment status).
– Invest in technology to facilitate communication between teachers. Email, online forums, and bulletin boards are easy and inexpensive ways for candidates to share ideas, concerns, and encouragement, and to communicate with mentors, program directors, and faculty.
– Evaluate the effectiveness of the induction in resolving attrition and building teacher competency. Effective programs require regular evaluation of all program components and desired outcomes.
The new study is based on 209 eligible responses to a survey of 985 city and city school districts. The districts were located in 36 states and the District of Columbia. As part of their study, the researchers conducted a review of the existing literature on induction and visited programs in 16 major cities. These cities were: Albuquerque; Cincinnati; Chicago; Clark County (Las Vegas); County Jefferson (Louisville); Los Angeles; Minneapolis; Norfolk; Rochester; and San Diego.
Our challenge as a nation is to educate and nurture the best teachers in the world. All teachers should participate in a continuous, collective and comprehensive effort to improve their teaching skills and enhance their students’ achievement.
New legislation would create a new formula program to fund skills and leadership training for mentors to ensure mentors have the skills needed to help our newest teachers, in addition to team teaching, peer observation and coaching, curriculum based Content training and dedicated time for collaborative lesson planning. The legislation would also allow teachers to visit other classrooms to model effective classroom practice; Training to integrate technology into the classroom, taking into account the specific needs of different students and involving parents; and partnerships between primary and secondary schools and colleges to provide continuing education opportunities.
Thanks to Jeff C. Palmer | #Teachers #Receiving #Support #Orientation #Formal #Training