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How to Hold Onto High-Quality New Teachers

By Kim Marshall, TIE columnist

This piece is reprinted from The Marshall Memo, Kim Marshall’s weekly summary of current research and best practices in the field of education. Drawing on his experience as a teacher, principal, central office administrator, consultant, and writer, Kim Marshall lightens the load of busy educators by serving as their “designated reader.”
The article: “Five Easy Steps for Retaining Top Teachers” by Mary Clement in Principal Leadership, March 2016 (Vol. 16, #7, p. 18-19).
In this article in Principal Leadership, Mary Clement (Berry College) offers these tips for retaining rookie teachers, 41 percent of whom leave the profession within the first five years:
• Hire capable, well-matched teachers. Detailed advertisements and postings are important to giving candidates a clear idea of each position, says Clement. She also recommends longer interviews with more candidates, enlisting experienced teachers to take part in interviews, and gathering information on candidates from multiple sources.
• Provide continuous professional development. This should include induction that eases new teachers into the demands of the full job – orientation before classes begin, well-matched mentors through the first five years, and ongoing PD specific to rookies’ needs. “New teachers often feel completely overwhelmed with their duties,” says Clement, “and adding seminars may seem like more work, and stress, than help. If once a week is too often to meet, try monthly meetings, and ask the new teachers for input about times and dates.”
• Use colleagues to provide feedback. Traditional “gotcha” teacher evaluation has rarely been helpful in supporting new teachers, says Clement. Trained mentors can provide non-evaluative feedback that really makes a difference, perhaps with a firewall between their observations and the formal evaluation process. Of course it’s important that incoming teachers know the district’s criteria for effective teaching and are familiar with how administrators will assess their work.
• Understand millennials. “This generation of teachers wants to network and have input,” says Clement. Most have a strong preference for electronic interaction, and administrators and colleagues should meet young teachers where they are tech-wise and provide strong online resources.
• Provide leadership opportunities. “While many new teachers are just surviving, others actively seek an avenue to truly make a difference,” says Clement. To find fulfillment in teaching and stay in the profession, they need to get involved in meaningful roles outside their classrooms. Some possibilities: speaking at induction ceremonies and serving on a welcome committee for the newest hires; leading book study groups; taking part in social service organizations on campus; and serving on curriculum committees.

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