U.S. schoolteachers are leaving the profession at an alarming rate. A 2022 survey of National Education Association members found that 55% of teachers plan to leave the field sooner than planned, due to frustration and exhaustion brought on by the pandemic. And to make matters worse, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) found that fewer college students are pursuing teaching degrees, citing concerns about pay and working conditions.
Those who enter the profession do so with little understanding of the socio-cultural factors and parental expectations they’ll face in various school communities. Once they’re employed, these factors can cause them to question their knowledge, core beliefs, and self-image as teachers. The ways in which they’re trained to teach do not always work within their schools’ individual cultures.
In addition, beginning teachers cite the following reasons for leaving the field:
With the need for dedicated teachers at an all-time high, it’s essential to identify how we can help ease new graduates’ transition from pre-service teachers to teachers of record. We’ve adapted three tips, gleaned from teacher education experts, to apply specifically for beginning teachers:
During their time as teacher candidates, students have regular check-ins for support and feedback. It’s important for beginning teachers to receive similar guidance as they become teachers of record. Administrators and veteran teachers should identify and model best practices for new teachers that align with district goals. Studies have shown that mentoring is associated with teacher retention, effectiveness, and confidence. Mentors instill curiosity and inspire a sustained pursuit of ongoing education in their field. And they can address beginning teachers’ concerns and questions as they arise, while staying focused on long-term, developmental goals. Mentors can also encourage reflective practice, using their own expertise to guide new teachers in the right direction.
Even when beginning teachers have been well prepared, they are still just learning to teach. There is a tendency to neglect professional development for new teachers, as they’re expected to “hit the ground running.” However, ongoing professional development for beginning teachers is essential for teacher retention and quality curricula. Carter and Francis found that early developmental support is “critical to the quality of [teachers’] immediate professional experiences as well as to their longer-term professional learning.” Although induction programs vary widely in duration and depth, they are invaluable for new teachers. And they require flexibility and responsiveness to individual teachers’ needs, once their strengths and opportunities for improvement have been identified.
Teaching can be a lonely job, leading to feelings of disconnectedness and dissatisfaction. Through collaboration, teachers can build relationships that provide the emotional support needed to thrive. Collaboration allows teachers to exchange ideas, team up on lesson plans, and dream up ways to engage struggling students. Together, they can identify best practices that align with their districts’ goals, then model and share them with video. These days, collaboration tends to require the use of technology. The recent pandemic reaffirmed its importance in education, especially as a tool for teachers to communicate and connect. Collaboration is also learned in PLCs, which promote self-reflection, a catalyst for professional growth. In school districts that promote collaborative learning, teachers benefit from dialogue, constructive feedback, and other tools that prompt growth, improving both teaching performance and student results.
Now that you have received expert advice for supporting new teachers and improving their experience as they begin their careers, what should be your next step?
There are many tools to help you apply these techniques, but one stands out. GoReact uses the proven combination of video + feedback to empower new teachers to practice, self-reflect, collaborate with peers and mentors, and record their growth—all while saving school districts time and budget.