According to a report from the Alliance for Excellent Education, teacher attrition costs the United States up to $2.2 billion annually. Roughly half a million U.S. teachers either move or leave the profession each year, and tragically, this serious problem disproportionately affects high-poverty schools.
It’s essential that we keep every teacher we get. Yet classroom teaching is arguably the most stressful job there is. Somewhere between 40 and 50 percent of those that go into teaching are gone within five years. Teachers matter, and if we are to have excellent teachers, we not only have to focus on recruiting qualified candidates but also creating an environment in which they can flourish.
In pursuit of solutions to the problem, The Global Search for Education asked our Top Global Teacher Bloggers this month: What are the top ten ways that administrators can help new teachers avoid burning out?
Adam Steiner (@steineredtech) discusses in his blog the kind of pressure that teachers feel because of the political pressure put on schools to perform. Improving schools is called the “accountability” approach where teachers are held directly responsible for the numerical scores of their students on a single annual test. Adam says, “The relentless drive toward higher test scores has left teachers feeling a palpable pressure to show student progress above all else – and the price that is paid is in student social emotional health and a passion for lifelong learning. Evidence of this over-emphasis on data is in student stress surveys that show that students are overwhelmed with expectations and workload. If students are burned out, their teachers won’t be far behind.” Read More.
Pauline Hawkins (@PaulineDHawkins) points out that the key to retaining teachers is in the social relations between both the administration and other teachers. New teachers should be paired up with master teachers in a mentor/mentee relationship. New teachers require a whole network of support so that they feel like part of a team. New teachers should be allowed to “concentrate more on building relationships with students rather than on producing flawless curriculum.” Principals should do more than just dole out orders, they should be made to listen to and build rapport with every new teacher. Read More.
Expectations should be lined up with experience. Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) says, “new teachers are given hard jobs that no one wants. When you give a new teacher too much or too difficult of a task, you’re setting them up for failure.” She points to not only curriculum overload but to the central problem that every first year teacher faces: discipline. Keeping students on track and focused with their work is unlike any job in the world. Read More.
Balance is something that new teachers have a hard time finding. Sometimes it can feel like school is their whole world and that can be terribly overwhelming. Craig Kemp (@mrkempnz) suggests that teachers must be allowed to have time for self-care. They should still be able to play sports, listen to music, or go running. Craig points to staff drinks and social gatherings as being essential to a healthy education culture. Teachers should be encouraged to associate outside the classroom. Read More.
Education has a distinct culture that is different from the rest of the work world. Todd Finley (@finleyt) suggests that because of this, “every school has norms of which new faculty might be unaware. Therefore strong mentoring colleagues are critical. A good first meeting would involve discussing a fact sheet of 20 things that might not be obvious to rookies.” Transparency is key for keeping new teachers. A checklist should be made for less visible procedures so that there are no surprises for new teachers. Expectations should be made upfront and totally clear if new teachers are expected to meet them. Read More.
Richard Wells (@EduWells) indicates that first year teachers should not be made to bite off more than they can chew. He says: “Don’t add to the burden by giving new teachers a wide scope of courses or topics to get to grips with. Keep the initial focus on a narrower curriculum demand. Let them build confidence in a small amount before taking on the full job.” He also points out the double benefit of team-teaching: it relieves some of the pressure put on new teachers as well as provides a time-efficient source of professional development. Read More.
The Global Search for Education would like to thank our Top Global Teacher Bloggers for sharing their insightful perspectives.
Tom Bennett (@tombennett71), Joe Bower (@joe_bower), Susan Bowles (@FloridaKteacher), Lisa Currie (@RippleKindness), Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher), Todd Finley (@finleyt), Pauline Hawkins (@PaulineDHawkins), Craig Kemp (@mrkempnz), Karen Lirenman (@KLirenman), Adam Steiner (@steineredtech), Silvia Tolisano (@langwitches) and Richard Wells (@EduWells) are The Global Search for Education 2014 Top 12 Global Teacher Bloggers. In Memoriam Joe Bower (@joe_bower).
Lead photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com
Join me and globally renowned thought leaders including Sir Michael Barber (UK), Dr. Michael Block (U.S.), Dr. Leon Botstein (U.S.), Professor Clay Christensen (U.S.), Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond (U.S.), Dr. MadhavChavan (India), Professor Michael Fullan (Canada), Professor Howard Gardner (U.S.), Professor Andy Hargreaves (U.S.), Professor Yvonne Hellman (The Netherlands), Professor Kristin Helstad (Norway), Jean Hendrickson (U.S.), Professor Rose Hipkins (New Zealand), Professor Cornelia Hoogland (Canada), Honourable Jeff Johnson (Canada), Mme. Chantal Kaufmann (Belgium), Dr. EijaKauppinen (Finland), State Secretary TapioKosunen (Finland), Professor Dominique Lafontaine (Belgium), Professor Hugh Lauder (UK), Lord Ken Macdonald (UK), Professor Geoff Masters (Australia), Professor Barry McGaw (Australia), Shiv Nadar (India), Professor R. Natarajan (India), Dr. Pak Tee Ng (Singapore), Dr. Denise Pope (US), Sridhar Rajagopalan (India), Dr. Diane Ravitch (U.S.), Richard Wilson Riley (U.S.), Sir Ken Robinson (UK), Professor Pasi Sahlberg (Finland), Professor Manabu Sato (Japan), Andreas Schleicher (PISA, OECD), Dr. Anthony Seldon (UK), Dr. David Shaffer (U.S.), Dr. Kirsten Sivesind (Norway), Chancellor Stephen Spahn (U.S.), Yves Theze (LyceeFrancais U.S.), Professor Charles Ungerleider (Canada), Professor Tony Wagner (U.S.), Sir David Watson (UK), Professor Dylan Wiliam (UK), Dr. Mark Wormald (UK), Professor Theo Wubbels (The Netherlands), Professor Michael Young (UK), and Professor Minxuan Zhang (China) as they explore the big picture education questions that all nations face today.
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C. M. Rubin is the author of two widely read online series for which she received a 2011 Upton Sinclair award, “The Global Search for Education” and “How Will We Read?” She is also the author of three bestselling books, including The Real Alice in Wonderland, is the publisher of CMRubinWorld, and is a Disruptor Foundation Fellow.
Follow C. M. Rubin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@cmrubinworld