Teaching is a challenging profession. Staying true to the job proves difficult for some educators and data published as recently as last year shows a massive exodus of teachers leaving the profession for more satisfying careers.
Tackling high workloads, getting zero to minimal support, work-life balance, and the lack of recognition are some of the problems that cause teachers to leave the classroom and look for other jobs.
Moreover, additional data shows that the lack of job security and significant low pay compared to other professions also makes a substantial number of new teachers look for other jobs that guarantee them security and better payment.
To reverse the effects resulting from massive resignations from teachersstates are working with education stakeholders to come up with tangible solutions.
States are liaising with school districts in implementing professional development and peer assistance targeted at newly recruited teachers.
Research conducted in recent years shows that around three-fourths of new teachers have gone through an induction program. They have also had the chance of having a mentor teacher working with them, showing them the ropes.
A significant number of states fully fund mentoring programs, that are run and overseen by expert and experienced teachers with release time to be in class coaching new teachers regularly.
To help teachers stay in the profession, published data shows the importance for beginners to undergo systematic and intense mentoring in their first year of teaching.
The mentoring programs incorporate weekly support and in-classroom coaching during the first year to help new signees fine-tune their skills, and learn how to plan for lessons.
Such support plays a vital role when it comes to problem-solving issues that crop up in the classroom.
The experienced teacher will help the new one take practical steps to de-escalate situations in the most amicable ways.
Having mentors work with the new employees ensures that new teachers don’t just survive, but become competent, capable, and have reasons to stay in the teaching profession.
Changing Teacher Preparation Programs
Previous teacher preparation programs had teachers taking several courses, followed by an eight-week student teaching stint at the end of the sessions.
The past program saw candidates learning things in the abstract which they mostly forgot by the time they got assigned into a classroom.
Moreover, given the advancement in society, practices they underwent in their student-teaching classroom do not necessarily reflect the ones described in their courses. Fortunately, this antiquated, fragment program is being phased out.
A lot of today’s teacher education programs have been designed to offer strong clinical experience linked to coursework.
The programs offer courses that adequately prepare trainees in curriculum development, assessment, and differentiated instruction. The courses play a huge role in keeping teachers practicing the profession.
Data from the Department of Education shows teachers that adequately prepare for the profession have higher rates of staying in teaching as opposed to educators that didn’t get the critical preparation elements.
Teachers that have undergone student teaching have lower rates of leaving the profession after the first year of teaching than those that haven’t student taught.
Furthermore, teachers that have had coaching, been observed in their classrooms, and attended classes to see other teachers are more likely to stick to the profession after the first year.
Teachers that attend courses on child development, curriculum, and learning tend to stick with the profession more than the educators that didn’t participate in these courses.
Carefully managed student-teaching placements play a significant role in helping new teachers embrace the profession and wanting to stick around to continue educating students.
College and Schools Collaboration
School districts should encourage colleges and schools to collaborate to help new teachers settle well into the profession.
The collaboration should create clinical sites for training teachers in workable programs that have courses connected in the clinical work and the context of carefully mentored student teaching.
In the initiated programs, students are taught specific practices that they take to their classrooms and incorporate them into their teaching.
They capture the experiences either in writing or video, and bring them back into the clinic to debrief, learn how to solve problems that cropped up. They then help to create customized practices that are in tune with the classroom.
Collaborative planning between faculties in schools and colleges play a more significant role in helping new teachers learn, adapt, and appreciate the profession.
Today, robust programs modeled under such initiatives, enroll students in student teaching from the time they start the clinic until the point when they finish with the program.
Such initiatives have seen many teachers that would have given up, find joy in teaching and balancing their work-life.
Unfortunately, schools and education leaders will not always change policies that affect the teaching profession. However, to retain teachers not just in their schools or districts, but in the profession, there are many support systems they can apply.
Teachers are happier in environments where they succeed with the students when they get the support they need and have colleagues that encourage them to work as a team.
New teachers that are starting the profession are enthusiastic and collaborative oriented people. To keep them this way, schools and districts need to incorporate a few things including:
- Building professional learning communities
- Structuring group collaboration for planning curriculum
- Encouraging ongoing inquiry into practice
Schools and school leaders that foster such environments grant teachers continuous opportunities to learn and grow in the profession.
They provide them with the tools they need to use in their job, making it easier for them to create budding relationships with parents so that they can partner up on behalf of the students.
To achieve a supportive environment and better retain new teachers, schedules may have to be reorganized, specific systems targeting mentoring need to be incorporated into schools, districts may need to restructure and evaluate their current practices to create better environments for new teachers.
In return, teachers will be much happier, successful in their work, and stick to the teaching profession.