How to Implement Standards, Curriculum and Assessment
Wish I Had Known That: Research on New Teacher Support Allison Demas
Question and Rationale:
The past few years I have been involved in a privately funded program to provide support for new teachers. This program has been providing these new educators with, what I consider, basic information. As the influx of new teachers escalated I began to wonder what happens at schools that do not have such programs. My question was : What types of support exist for new teachers?
I chose to study two schools in the same district. Although the schools are different sizes, in terms of staff and student population, the percentage of new teachers to each school is the same (approximately 25%). I identified the term "new teacher" as someone having between 1 and 5 years teaching experience. One school had a program to support new teachers which was funded through corporate sponsorship.
In order to gather my data I chose a variety of tools. I interviewed the district superintendent and the principals. I then distributed a written survey to the new teachers, the principals, and the UFT representatives. Based on the survey responses, I came up with specific questions for follow-up interviews.
Readings and Research:
My readings included The Art of Classroom Inquiry (Hubbard and Power, 1993) which assisted me in choosing my research tools and in reading the resulting data. My readings on new teacher support included:
From Students of Teaching to Teachers of Students: Teacher Induction Around the Pacific Rim Edited by Jay Moskowitz and Maria Stephens
Beginning Teacher Performance Evaluation: An Overview of State Policies by E. Sclan & Linda Darling-Hammond
Beginning Teacher Induction (ERIC Digest) by Eileen Mary Weiss & Stephen Gary Weiss
What's Happening in Mentoring & Induction in Each of the United States? by Barry Sweeny
My readings and research showed that the first year of teaching is not any easier in other parts of the world. The difference lies in the amount and extent to which support is a part of the infrastructure of the induction system. In countries in the Pacific Rim there are support systems built into the schedule for new teachers. New teachers' workloads reflect their novice status. Guidance and support programs are essential elements of teacher induction programs.
This was not the case in the two schools I studied, and, in fact seemed not to be the case in most of the United States. New teachers were expected to meet the same requirements as senior teachers. Support, if it existed at all did so in addition to a regular schedule. Some support would not have existed at all but for the auspices of the corporate sponsorship. Furthermore, new teachers displayed a hesitancy to request help or admit that they needed support for fear of appearing professionally inadequate.
Administrations and policy makers do not want their new teachers to fail, therefore they should takes steps to assure their success. Supports systems need to be part of the basic infrastructure of individual schools and of the school system as a whole. New teachers should be offered a non-judgmental forum at which they can air their problems, complaints and concerns. Schools should offer apprenticeship opportunities for new teachers to observe and work along with experienced teachers prior to acquiring full time teaching positions. This should not be confused with student teaching, which can have an artificial texture do to the fact that the management and organization is predetermined by the classroom teacher. Individual schools can arrange for morning and after school workshops which would provide teachers with much needed guidance and offer the hours of new teacher credit required for their certification. A handbook of the basic protocols and chain of command of the school should be provided to each new teacher. This handbook should include all pertinent information necessary for running an effective classroom and handling various situations. All of theses suggestions are feasible and cost effective. They should be reflected in each school's Comprehensive Education Plan, making them a basic part of a solid foundation.
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