I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, around the way our school districts hire, retain, and support our new teachers. Often, new teachers are hired on as T.T.O.C.’s and are moved around the district from school to school, elementary through to secondary. This is an excellent opportunity for new teachers to learn how different schools work (I know many seasoned veterans who have been in one school for most of their careers and haven’t seen how other schools work – Twitter and PLN’s are starting to change this, though).
It’s what we do with new teachers hired into a school for contract or temporary positions that bothers me. In many cases, these new teachers are thrown into assignments that are the leftovers (or as some might say “dog’s breakfast”) of courses that didn’t fit into the continuing teachers’ loads. They are very often ‘one offs’, where collaboration within the school is impossible. The thrill of getting the position is taken over with dispair, disillusion, and regret. This gif from the Long Beach Unified School District shows what I think is an accurate portrayal of a new teacher’s first year.
So, there are problems, but what can we do to support and nurish and grow these new teachers into the great, master teachers we need? I like the mentorship programmes, apprenticeship models and even learning teams to support the teachers.
My idea, though, is to re-do the whole teacher education programme. Preservice teachers should be connected to the school/school district that they may be working in from day one of their education. They should be given ample opportunity to see how different schools work, different systems, and different teachers. When they finish their practicum, which should be longer than 10 weeks (hairdressers need more practicum time than this, why wouldn’t teachers?), they should be taken on at a school at a reduced load (same salary, maybe a four-year new teachers’ salary grid?) and connected to a master teacher/mentor in the school. They would be expected to be full time in the school, but with less prep/course load. They would be expected to join in extra-curriculars (to be honest, the extra-curricular activities where always my favourite, after math class, of course).
This would last for four years, slowly increasing their load, connected to the same school (guaranteed, none of this moving schools every year, being laid off, then waiting until August 30th to find out you have a position in a new school).
Those are my thoughts, more to come, obviously, but with the #BCEdChat on preservice teachers, I thought I would try to put my ideas onto paper to clarify and prepare for the great chat!