Monday, July 30, 2018

Supporting New Teachers: What Can We Do?

This one came to my inbox the other day: an article from Education Week entitled "In U.S. Schools, New Teachers Are Hardly a Novelty." If you are involved in education in some way, whether as a teacher, an administrator, or even as a parent, I think it's worth reading.

One quote that jumped out and bit me:
Nationally, 12 percent of all public school teachers are in their first or second year, according to an Education Week analysis of new data from the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights. And in some states, that figure may be higher than 15 percent.

Think about that: overall, 12% of U.S. teachers are in their first or second year. That's about 1 in 9 teachers. Think about your school: does this statistic ring true? As the article points out, it depends on where you are geographically. (Almost 25% of Florida teachers are apparently in this novice teacher category. TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT!)

I recently read a report from the U.S. Department of Education published in 2017 (The Teacher Residency: A Practical Path to Recruitment and Retention) that included this quote:
National studies indicate that around 20–30 percent of new teachers leave the profession within the first five years, and that attrition is even higher (often reaching 50 percent or more) in high-poverty schools and in high-need subject areas.
This has me thinking: there are some locations that are surely revolving doors for new teachers, metaphorically. If 20 or 30% of new teachers only stay in the profession for more than 5 years, it's no wonder that there is a continuous need for new teachers, and it makes sense that about 1 in 9 teachers overall is in the novice category.

Here's a group of the future teachers I serve. 19 of them in this photo.
How many of them will still be teaching 5 years after graduation? is my question:

What can we do to support new teachers?

I'm asking this as a real question to any educators (or perhaps especially former educators)  who might be reading this, and I hope you'll respond in the comments section:
What would have helped you in those induction years when you were a novice teacher? What would have been the most encouraging means to support you as you began your work as a professional educator?
I'm collecting ideas here!


  1. It's been a long time since I was a new teacher (38 years!), but I remember thinking, "I wish someone would come and tell me if I'm doing things correctly." So I think a good mentoring program for new teachers is essential. And I'm thankful that most schools offer this support for new teachers.

  2. Hmmmmm...tried to submit the comment and it did not go through. Said it was too long. I cut and pasted to google doc and it was under max characters so here is comment on a google doc :)

    1. LOVE this, Paul! Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom. As a teacher educator, I'm taking this to heart.

      Others who might be reading, I encourage you to take the time to read Paul's note.

  3. Another interesting thing about the 20% of teachers leaving teaching after 5 years is that is not an uncommon number for many fields. Think I read once that even 20% of first year plumbers are not plumbing after 5 years :)

    1. Hmmm...that's a good point. I have read that today's college graduates will have many different careers over their working years. Maybe I shouldn't be so concerned about this?

  4. I teach at a small Christian school (one class per grade), and the whole staff was very welcoming and helpful, especially the teacher who taught the grade above me. It wasn't an official mentoring program, but she was the one I often went to first when I had questions.

    1. I think mentoring is a KEY part of a new teacher induction program. Thanks for mentioning it!