New teachers are receiving support, orientation and formal training

As the teacher shortage grows to critical proportions, the nation’s schools grapple with the double burden of hiring well-prepared new teachers and keeping them from leaving the profession. Many schools, particularly those in urban areas, have turned to formal novice teacher training and support programs as a way to ease what for many is a defining first year, according to a new study. The study argues that the scope and quality of these induction programs has taken on unprecedented importance in the face of the national demand for teachers.

The attrition rate among new teachers fuels the hiring needs of schools. Nationally, more than 19 percent of new teachers leave the classroom within three years. Nearly 11 percent leave on their own in their first year of teaching. This is part of the reason for the projected need for 198,000 new teachers per year over the next decade, with the greatest demand in urban districts.

School districts that responded to a new survey reported an average retention rate of 89 percent for teachers participating in their induction programs. The data unequivocally shows the importance of induction programs to help reduce high teacher turnover and bridge the gap between teacher preparation and classroom reality.

Although more new teachers are receiving formal support, orientation and training in their crucial first year in the classroom, how their induction experience is defined varies widely, according to the study. Despite the broader acceptance of the idea of ​​formal induction, the quality and scope of the programs range “from comprehensive to perfunctory.”

The study found, for example, that mentoring veteran teachers is one of the most common activities cited by school districts as part of their induction programs. But the roles, responsibilities, training, and deployment of mentors vary greatly among different school systems. Also, not all districts offer time off, stipends, graduate credit, tuition, or other incentives for mentors. While 88 percent of school districts described their programs as “formal, deep and sustained,” more than a quarter of them said their programs don’t serve all new teachers.

In education, teachers who make the transition from novice to seasoned professional often do so navigating uncharted waters alone. What new teachers experience contrasts sharply with the experiences of medical residents, associate attorneys, and even rookie basketball players, who must go through lengthy training, development, and mentorship during their respective induction periods. Few areas of continuing professional development are as important as the induction years.

Nationally, more than 49 percent of first-year public school teachers participate in some type of induction program, while the participation rate rises to 58 percent for teachers newly hired to work in urban schools.

The study found that induction programs improve new teachers’ knowledge, skills, and performance, provide personal support, introduce new teachers to the rules and procedures of the school system, and familiarize them with the values ​​of the school system. While states have become more active in boosting 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 programs were run by school district staff, often without higher education (or other) partners.

Among the recommendations that federal, state, and local policymakers and school leaders should consider when developing policies and strategies to meet the needs of beginning teachers:

– View induction as a multi-year development process. New members have different needs as they go through the stages of their professional development, ranging from basic survival to teacher leadership.

– Train directors to understand how to orient and support new members. Principals need training in effective ways to create supportive working conditions, develop informal mentoring and support relationships, assign classrooms, and recognize and address the professional needs of new members.

– Establish a first class mentoring program supported by sufficient funds to serve all eligible inductees. A formal process should be established to identify and train highly competent classroom teachers to work with and mentor them on a regular basis. Mentors should be given time off to observe, train and demonstrate lessons, and to attend meetings. They should be offered stipends to cover their time and materials, assistance from district coordinators, and annual evaluations.

– Link new teacher evaluations to state and district-level standards. Induced performance appraisals should be both formative (for improvement) and summative (for job status decisions).

– Invest in technology to facilitate communication between teachers. Email, online forums, and bulletin boards are easy and affordable ways for new members to share ideas, concerns, and encouragement, and to connect with mentors, program directors, and college professors.

– Evaluate the effectiveness of induction to solve desertion and develop teaching competence. Effective programs require regular evaluation of all program components and desired outcomes.

The new study is based on 209 helpful responses to a survey of 985 school districts in large cities and towns. 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. Those cities were: Albuquerque; Cincinnati; Chicago; Clark County (Las Vegas); Jefferson County (Louisville); The Angels; Minneapolis; norfolk; Rochester; and San Diego.

Our challenge, as a nation, is to prepare and sustain the best teachers in the world. All teachers must engage in an ongoing collaborative and comprehensive effort to improve their teaching skills and increase the achievement of their students.

The new legislation would create a new formula program to fund leadership and skills training for mentors to ensure mentors have the skills necessary to help our newest teachers, in addition to team teaching, shadowing, and mentoring. peer training, curriculum-based content training, and dedicated training. time for collaborative lesson planning. The legislation would also provide teachers with opportunities to visit other classrooms to model effective teaching practice; training on integrating technology in the classroom, addressing the specific needs of diverse students, and involving parents; and partnerships between elementary and secondary schools and higher education institutions to provide advanced training opportunities.

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