When entering a traditional profession, a training period with a mentor or supervisor generally eases a new employee into the workforce. Teaching is another story, and for many teachers, the rocky beginning leads to an unhappy ending. In fact, close to 2/3 of all new teachers surveyed report they were not enrolled in an adequate teacher development program before entering the classroom, and only half the teachers who graduated with high expectations will still be in the classroom three years after graduation. While their education was far from lacking, the missing chapter in the story of their training was lack of real preparation within a classroom setting, often known as a “teaching practicum.” Giving student teachers the ability to join a master teacher and teach for a lengthy stretch of time better prepares future educators. Arizona State University and Urban Teacher Residencies have noted an 85% retention rate of teachers after three years through their program of matching student teachers with educators recognized for their teaching skills. These new teachers have discovered that explaining the significance of the first day of school is far different than witnessing and participating in the first day of school.
To this end, President Obama has granted the Department of Education a set of guidelines to strengthen teacher development programs as well as professional preparedness programs. The new guidelines will hold teacher development programs accountable for the success of their teachers. Five states, including Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee, have reported their requirements and student success rates to the general public, teaching institutions, and potential employers. The program’s guidelines also include streamlining teacher evaluations and identifying the institutions whose teacher preparation programs are either in dire need of upgrading or are significantly better than average.
Lastly, the funding of teacher development programs through TEACH grants, which are given to student teachers who plan on entering the workforce in a high-need field within a low-income school or district, gives federal money directly to the source rather than to the overall teaching institution. By stretching federal dollars, more individuals will be eligible for these TEACH grants.
Do you believe these new developments will enhance the teaching experience and increase retention rates for first-time educators? What other areas of first-time teaching need to be addressed? We look forward to hearing your comments! Please let us know if you are a teacher, and, if so, how long you have been teaching.