Support for first year teachers

SchoolAs experienced teachers retire and faculty ranks swell with teachers with little experience, administrators need to find ways to support beginning teachers—not an easy task as school budgets shrink.

I ran across two suggestions from experienced teachers last year that school administrators might find worth consideration.

One suggestion from veteran teachers was that administrators give beginning teachers advanced students, not beginners to teach. Their reasoning was that advanced classes are similar to courses the novice teachers had been taking. Thus the novices would have minimal difficulty adjusting to the course level, which would free them to concentrate on other aspects of teaching. This suggestion would not strain school budgets, though it might be unpopular with long-time teachers who feel they deserve to teach the more advanced students.

Another suggestion from experienced teachers was that administrators give beginning teachers one less prep and have them use that time to observe other teachers, co-teach, and engage in other professional development activities within their school settings. This suggestion has merit, but it also presents challenges.

Lighter loads for beginning teachers have little appeal to administrators trying to control costs. And asking experienced teachers to help train newbies when they are already carrying full loads is a tough sell in many schools.

Developing a school culture that emphasizes collaborative, in-house professional development could go a long way toward overcoming the challenges inherent in both suggestions from experienced teachers. However, development of such a culture won’t happen overnight. But budgetary constraints and replacement of veteran teachers with novices aren’t going away overnight either.

Photo credit: “School”  by TheMAXX81