Friday, November 22, 2013

Teacher Leadership Challenge | November 22, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 5.01.03 PMThis is a multipart series of posts intended to help teachers grow their leadership practice and ignite conversations about education online and in person. The goal of a teacher leader is to improve the learning of all students through their efforts, collaboration, and influence. The 2014 Teacher Leadership Challenge is a weekly installment activity that poses a prompt on an educational topic or issue. Your challenge is to respond within one week to the prompt via a post you publish to your blog. Responses to the prompt that you publish to your own blog should be around 500 words or less. The aim is to get more teachers thinking globally about their classroom practice and their own connection to the wider education community. You can subscribe to this blog to get the weekly challenge sent automatically by email.

You can share your post to Twitter using #TLC2014 and spark conversation with educators. In addition to posting on your own blog, you can elect to include your post in the weekly collection showcase blog. To do this, simply email your completed response post to the showcase, at Make sure that you include the title of your post with the week of the prompt for proper tagging (e.g., "My Post Title | September 6, 2013") in the subject line (without "re:") of your email, and the full post laid out in paragraphs in the body of the email. Posts are automatically published from sending the email. You can embed images and URLs into the body of your email, and the post will publish while maintaining your formatting and layout. Check out others' responses in the response collection or on Google+ each week, leave them your comments, and get the conversation rolling ahead for teacher leadership.

This Week's Challenge:

What can be done to ensure that new teachers are prepared and supported to be most successful and remain in education?

IMG_1565A staggering statistic from the results of a 2007 report drafted by the University of Michigan Public Policy Class 632 for the Michigan Department of Education revealed that nearly 40 percent of public school teachers left their jobs in their first five years. Though teachers may leave for a variety of reasons, the inability to retain quality teachers will inevitably affect student achievement and many other aspects of public education regardless of the reasons that a teacher departs from the classroom.

Factors cited in teacher attrition included family and personal reasons; however, this rate is considerably higher in education than other professions. When looking at factors associated with teacher attrition, age, gender, and school characteristics have the strongest correlation. Other factors such as education level, teaching position, and race were examined but did not have as strong of a correlation to overall attrition rates. 

The introductory years of teaching are challenging times of adjustment. More is now expected of teachers than ever before. The initiatives of standards-based education reform have made student achievement an imperative task alongside other classroom and school challenges. Novice teachers are sometimes inadequately prepared, in a practical sense, for what lies ahead in their career. Most teacher education programs only put trainees into internships anywhere from five to twenty weeks. Teacher education models that do not provide adequate practical experience for pre-service teachers lead new teachers to a false sense of preparedness. With heavy theoretical training, but little chance to translate theory into practice, some novice teachers find themselves in uncharted territory with minimal support. 

So what is a solution?

Making certain that teachers are prepared coming into the field, continue to be professionally supported as they start out in their career, and remain in the profession beyond the five-year mark are three critical elements to ensuring student success. How can this be accomplished?

What do you believe helped you to be successful in education? What allowed you to get beyond the hurdles and challenges of your early years? Did you feel prepared by your teacher preparation program to enter the field and be successful? What are the features of a teacher education program that can best prepare students for a future career in classroom teaching? What supports do you think need to be in place when teachers are starting their career and getting the hang of their duties as an educator? Are there certain things that can help a teacher to remain in the profession beyond the initial years? 

Some believe that quality of education in college, such as content area knowledge, is the most important aspect of preparing a future teacher. This has led to a focus on the results of content area teacher certification tests. On the other hand, some think that the practical experience of actually teaching in a classroom is what matters most. Though it is difficult to assess an individual's teaching ability with a paper-pencil certification test, pedagogy is said to play a role. To what extent do content knowledge and methods play into preparedness for classroom teaching? Are there certain supports that should be in place to help a new teacher getting into the swing of things? Does mentoring help? Could any of the current preparations or supports be improved to help new teachers be even more successful than some currently are? 

Whether you draw on your own successes, or challenges overcome, in your career, or merely speculate what might a possible solution, consider what factors could help new teachers to be even more successful in beginning their career and ultimately keep them in the classroom longer.