Monday, February 3, 2014

Teacher Leadership Challenge | February 3, 2014

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This multipart series is intended to help teachers grow their leadership practice and ignite conversations about education online, through blogging, 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 to the prompt in 500 words or less via a post you publish to your blog. 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 by 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 teachers remain in the profession?

A staggering statistic from the results of a report prepared by the University of Michigan revealed that nearly 40 percent of school teachers left their jobs in their first five years and that teacher turnover harms student achievement. 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. Can anything be done about this?
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.
When you think about what challenges you faced, and how you overcame them, in your early years of teaching, what comes to mind? What are some pathways for supporting new teachers that can help them to remain in the profession? Did you have a strong teaching internship experience? Were there great mentoring programs that you went through in your early years? Did you forge ahead on your own determination when the going got tough? 
Beginning to find ways to support other teachers often begins with recognizing how we have been supported and what has made us successful. What wisdom would you give to a newer teacher? How would you guide someone entering the profession to deal with the challenges and successes of teaching? What suggestions could you offer to help retain our top teachers and support new teachers as they emerge into the profession?
Photo Jul 18, 7 58 05 PMIs better professional development the answer? If so, how can it be achieved? Is there something inherent about the profession that's driving teachers away? Does the nature of internships, or a lack thereof, in teacher education programs impact retention? How can teacher preparation programs be enhanced? How can pre-service teachers be best prepared to enter the field successfully ready to start?
If we are going to do something about impacting student achievement on a larger scale, it is going to require teachers who stay in the profession and develop into master teachers. 
What would help retain more teachers in the profession past that five year mark? Is it something that is complex and systematic, or is it something simple--like an ice cream cone once in a while?

Image Credit: Gary G. Abud, Jr.