"She has been teaching for three years. Her students really like her. She's dedicated. She's energetic.
She's creative... She's quitting" (Michigan Education Association, 2000). This left a school district asking a very simple question; why? Novice teachers enter the career full of questions. What should I do the first day? What curriculum do I teach? How should I arrange the classroom? Who are my students? How will I manage my classroom? What resources are available to me? What does the principal expect? Too many times these questions go unanswered. New teachers are handed their keys, shown to their rooms, and left to fend for themselves. The lack of support for first year teachers is a national problem.
"Addressing the learning needs of new teachers can improve both the rate of teacher retention and quality of the teaching profession" (Ballinger, 2000). In a country where there are more people leaving the profession than entering it, the questions of new teacher training and support is a very important one. "Typically, principals hire the best qualified teachers from an applicant pool. These new teachers traditionally receive a brief orientation and a warm welcome at the first faculty meeting. But from then on, first-year teachers are usually left on their own and offered very little assistance. No matter what their backgrounds or capabilities, they are given the same responsibilities as 20-year veterans" (Jambor, 1997)! Many school districts nationwide face the challenge of supporting first-year teachers.
It appears that there are several reasons as to why novice teachers do not stay in the school they begin their career. Some of the apparent reasons beginning teachers leave the teaching profession include late hiring, unanswered questions, unfamiliar experiences, unmet learning needs, and lack of mentoring. Ballinger states, sample questions new teachers find themselves asking when being assigned a new classroom, "What am I supposed to teach? How will my students be tested? What will their test scores say about me as a teacher? What does the principal expect?" (2000). Lack of support for beginning teachers is causing an alarming number of first year teachers to leave the profession.
According to the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and the Teacher Follow-up Survey (TFS) results, .".. After just five years, between 40 and 50 percent of all beginning teachers have left the profession. Why do beginning teachers leave at such high rates?" The surveys concluded that "around 39 percent... left to pursue a better job or another career, and about 29 percent said that dissatisfaction with teaching...
." (Ingersoll, 2003). One reason, among others, for dissatisfaction with the career was linked to lack of support from school administration. Through a more in depth look at quantitative research that has already taken place as well as new data it will be possible to develop a plan to address first year teacher needs. Through the use of questionnaires and surveys it is possible to determine whether first year teachers feel supported and in what areas the school districts are lacking in regards to mentoring.
Given a large enough population hat are randomly selected it is possible to hypothesize that there is a generalized feeling amongst this group in regards to lack of support. While using the information gathered through data collection it is also important in this context to get a feel for why people are not feeling supported. It would be beneficial to interact with the first year teachers and listen to their stories. The advantage of using qualitative methods is that they generate rich, detailed data that leave the participants' perspectives intact and provide a context for behavior and future decisions. The focus upon processes and 'reasons why' differs from that of quantitative research, which only addresses correlations between variables. References Ballinger, J.
(2000). Programs aim to stop teacher washout. Journal of Staff Development. 21 (2) 28-33. Ingersoll, R. M.
& Smith, T. M. (2003). The wrong solution to the teacher shortage. Educational Leadership. 60 (8) 30-3.
Jambor, A. , et. al. (1997). TEACH is for new teachers. Principal.
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(2000). Educational Testing Service presents a mentoring institute [Brochure]. East Lansing, MI: Author.