Saturday, January 2, 2010

Retaining the Next Generation of Teachers: The Importance of School-Based Support

Johnson, S.M., Bikelands, S., Kardos, S.M., Kauffman, D., Liu, E., Peske, H.G. (2001 Sept/Oct). Retaining the next generation of teachers: The importance of school-based support. Retrieved Oct. 21, 2009 from Harvard Education Letter website:

Summary: This article reports the results of a study conducted by the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers at the Harvard School of Education. Their research suggests that “the key to addressing shortages lies not in attractive recruitment policies but in support and training for new teachers at the school site.” The teachers they interviewed reported that they received very little guidance, support, or time to develop the skills they needed to be successful teachers during their first years of teaching. The authors argue that schools need to have “integrated professional cultures” in order to best support their new teachers on-site. Such a culture would include new teacher supports such as well-matched mentors, curriculum guidance, regular time for joint planning and collaboration, and peer observations. They also assert that schools leaders must establish healthy faculty norms, facilitate interaction among teachers, include teachers in decision-making, design purposeful meetings, and allow teachers to play greater roles in the hiring process.

Evaluation and Reflection: The researchers used qualitative data obtained from interviews with 50 first- and second-year teachers in Massachusetts. In my own research on this topic, I plan to use similar qualitative methods (teacher surveys) with possible follow-up interviews. I was pleased to see that many of the supports and structures proposed in this article are ones already in place here at High Tech High. However, I was reminded of some areas in which I believe we have room for improvement, such as in the selection of well-matched mentors. As a prospective school leader, there were several good reminders of structures that I would like to have in place at my own school site: purposeful and relevant meetings, well-matched mentors (as opposed to mentors whose schedules or locations make it difficult to meet), and teacher involvement in the hiring process.

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