- The Nature of the Teacher Shortage;
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An earlier start would mean fewer overwhelmed teachers on the first days of school. New teachers should always be given a great amount of fanfare upon their arrival to a campus. Celebrations that allow new faculty members to meet returning teachers should be initiated at the beginning of the school year and continued on a frequently recurring basis. While most new teachers are given mentors upon their arrival, the mentor is almost always another teacher with a full course load and additional duties since most teacher leaders tend to be involved in a plethora of activities.
This arrangement leaves little time for true collaboration, and often leaves a new teacher to fend for his or herself. To depart from such scenarios, hard-to-staff schools must either allocate or be subsidized by the school district funds to hire a full-time teacher mentor. The teacher mentor would be primarily responsible for professional development, cognitive coaching, and coordination of mentor-mentee partnerships.
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- A waste of time, effort and resources.
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The use of retired teachers as one-to-one mentors will provide new teachers with the assistance they need and the personalization that conventional mentorship does not afford. Retired teachers would serve as mentors in the classroom, acting in a coaching and co-teaching capacity. Feedback would be instant, giving the new teacher a support system for growth and development.
In addition, new teachers should initially have a reduced course load for preparation and observation of best practices in peer classrooms. Principals must find monies to support this critical initiative rather than overburdening existing staff, as the importance of developing new teachers cannot be overstated.
The importance of relevant professional development and training opportunities to the survival of the new teacher cannot be negated. Training must be early, engaging, regularly repeated, and monitored for implementation. Critical topics for professional development in a hard-to-staff school would include:.
The campus principal must take a hands-on approach to teacher mentoring. The principal must set aside time regularly weekly is ideal to debrief and interact with new teachers. Time with new teachers is far too critical for a principal to delegate, and should remain a priority on a principal's agenda for the entire academic year. While many test preparation programs exist to prepare teachers for state examinations, many of the programs can be costly, and in some cases, only moderately successful.
Hard-to-staff campuses would create a win-win situation by compensating campus based teacher leaders to tutor new teachers for certification exams; new teachers could gain relevant information at no additional cost, and schools would increase their number of certified teachers and the teacher's commitment to the school.
International research and pedagogy
Hard-to-staff campuses should establish an incentive pay structure that rewards new teachers with a graduated sum of money for each year that they elect to return to the campus. Retention pay would extend up to five years, as research indicates that most teachers permanently commit to the profession after four to five years. Teachers must sponsor or co-sponsor at least one student-centered activity or participate in at least one campus based committee their first year. Also, new teachers should be strongly encouraged to attend student-centered events, such as football games and school dances.
Teacher presence at student-centered events communicates to students and parents that teachers are genuinely interested and supportive of student pursuits outside of the classroom. This in turn creates a more positive rapport between teachers and students in the classroom, as students are more likely to see the teachers as an individual who cares about their well-being.
Teachers should seek opportunities for relevant professional development and growth outside of the campus, and principals should allocate monies for their pursuits. As a goal, principals should encourage teachers to gain additional endorsements to increase their certification, and when possible, pay for teachers to take the classes needed to attain additional licensures. In a hard-to-staff school, principals must be sensitive to the need for quality, new teachers and aware of the difficulties they will face in finding them.
The success of the new teacher is inextricably linked to the success of students, and if student achievement is a priority, then new teacher development must be a priority as well. Further, when prioritizing, principals must allocate time and funding to support their priorities. It is not enough to say that new teachers are important — sufficient monies must exist in the budget to support the initiative. A principal's commitment to the development of new teachers can ensure perpetuity and ultimate progress to the success of a hard-to-staff school.
Allen, M. Teacher recruitment, preparation and retention for hard-to-staff schools. Take a look at today's teachers.
This article has been very informative and has given me several ideas for implmentation at my own school. While my school is not a "hard-to-staff" school, the ideas for helping new teachers avoid burn-out are numerous. Thank you.
Author Interviews Meet your favorite authors and illustrators in our video interviews. Book Finder Create your own booklists from our library of 5, books! Themed Booklists Dozens of carefully selected booklists, for kids years old. In the future, I may look to take on a flexible leadership role, should the right opportunity arise. But, crucially, with supportive colleagues, these issues are thankfully minimized and has prevented me from being part of the most common statistic in teachers leaving the profession, that of women aged year olds who go off to start a family.
Earlier this year, I was asked to speak about flexible working in teaching at the inaugural New Voices conference. Whilst there was a good range of existing research and case studies to draw from, in order get a snapshot of the current landscape of flexible working in teaching, I decided to conduct my own micro-study.
The study comprised of interviews with twenty-five teachers, of both genders, from around the country across both primary and secondary. Naturally, regardless of gender, by far and away the most common reason cited by teachers for requesting, or wanting to request, flexible working was around family work-life balance and childcare. A quarter of the teachers in the study reported mainly positive experiences in terms of flexible working citing value, respect and trust as key to this. However, the common denominator for each of these teachers was having a supportive head or line manager.
In a small minority of cases, blatant hostility to flexible working manifested in the form of workplace bullying and one teacher felt, in hindsight, she had essentially been being managed out of her job after her being flexible working request was refused. It is clear that in order for the mindset set to change, there is still some way to go to integrate it as standard practice.
Recruiting and Retaining Teachers: Conquering the Challenge
Thankfully there are some brilliant organizations already set up to help support teachers and schools in their bid for flexible working and to change the narrative. A volume in the series: Contemporary Perspectives on the Lives of Teachers. Editor s : Carol R. Rinke, Marist College. Lynnette Mawhinney, University of Illinois at Chicago.