A Better Beginning: Supporting and Mentoring New Teachers

A Better Beginning: Supporting and Mentoring New Teachers

A Better Beginning: Supporting and Mentoring New Teachers

A Better Beginning: Supporting and Mentoring New Teachers

Synopsis

Here's help for any school or district that wants struggling first-year and beginning teachers to survive and thrive. Written by seasoned administrators and teacher leaders who know the ropes, this guide covers every aspect of the topic, including:

Best ways to support new teachers;

Stages they go through in their first year;

Effective induction programs that last five days, all summer, or an entire year;

Mentoring programs that benefit all teachers involved;

Strategies for improving new teachers' teaching skills without damaging their morale; and

Systemwide solutions that combine induction and mentoring programs with ongoing assessment and professional development.

Case studies of successful programs and insights from veteran and novice teachers give you plenty of fresh insights on how to maintain new teachers' confidence and encourage them to innovate and grow.

Excerpt

Sharon Feiman-Nemser, Cynthia Carver, Sharon Schwille, and Brian Yusko

Support is essential to retaining new teachers, but the ultimate goal of
beginning-teacher induction must be the development of professionals who
can help complex learning happen for students.

Although the idea of formal programs to assist beginning teachers is not new, the movement to establish such programs has gained considerable momentum since the mid-1980s. Before 1980, only one state had mandated an induction program. Since then, the scale of induction activity has increased dramatically. Today, more states are mandating induction programs than ever before, and more urban districts offer some kind of support to beginning teachers, usually in the form of mentoring (Fideler & Haselkorn, in press).

Beginning-teacher induction has broad-based support. High attrition rates during the early years of teaching and serious teacher shortages make programs that improve teacher retention attractive. Stories about the trials and tribulations of new teachers lend weight to the idea of beginning-teacher support. The realization that new teachers, even those with good preservice preparation, are still learning to teach underscores the need for ongoing professional development. Finally, raised expectations for student achievement, combined with concerns about quality assurance, highlight the need to link beginning-teacher assistance with standards-based assessments.

Despite widespread interest and broad-based support, however, the overall picture is uneven. Most induction mandates do not rest on robust ideas about teacher learning, and they often lack the human resources and materials to support effective programs. Even when formal programs exist, they may not help beginning teachers learn the kind of teaching that fosters complex learning on the part of students. Research shows that men-

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