By Samantha Solomon
The variety of Oakland teachers’ early career experiences is as diverse as our city – depending on where teachers spend their first few years, they are just as likely to find themselves with a supportive onsite mentor or a random coach they rarely see. While some teachers get lucky (or grit through a tough situation),the early support (or lack thereof) teachers receive can be a strong predictor of a teacher’s likelihood of staying in the field. In fact, according to “Who Stays in Teaching and Why,” published by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, “research has shown that there are important links between a teacher’s sense of being effective, their satisfaction with their work and retention.”
With that thought in mind, our group of six teacher policy fellows consulted the experts on what else ensures that new teachers are supported and effective and remain in the classroom. Here are three hallmarks of an effective, research-based induction program:
A Mentor Who is Not a Stranger
MANY sources said it, but “Mentor Policy & The Quality of Mentoring” said it best:
Across 10 districts “teachers experience better outcomes when mentors are located in the same school and have an evaluative role (proximity and availability were the most important features, over training, compensation, employment status, caseload).” In other words, having access to an onsite mentor who is available to them (proximity and availability) was a significant predictor of success for the teachers included in this study. Even better news, this type of support for new teachers is pretty cheap to formalize on a district level.
Support from Every Angle
To say new teachers have a lot on their plate is kind of like saying Steph Curry is a pretty good three-point shooter. It’s a giant, ridiculous understatement. Given their workload, we need to support new teachers on many levels. Not just because it’s a nice thing to do, but because it will actually reduce teacher turnover. According to “Who Stays in Teaching and Why:”
- New teachers who experienced no induction had a 41 percent predicted probability of turnover
- Those who received what the researchers call “basic induction” (mentoring and supportive administrator communication) had a turnover probability of 39 percent
- New teachers who received bundles of seven induction components (the above plus collaboration/common planning time, seminars, teacher networks, an aide, and reduced course load) had an 18 percent predicted probability of turnover
LOTS of time to grow!
Just like most students in your class, new teachers can’t just be told something once and then expected to internalize it. In fact, The Center for American Progress says, “teachers typically need about 50 hours of professional development on a given topic or practice in order to improve their skills enough to influence student learning.” Sounds like a pretty strong argument for the “comprehensive, multi-year induction programs” the New Teacher Center recommends.