This is the heading from an ad on Facebook. Of course, they want teachers. Who else has the people skills to deal with children, parents, and administrators with grace? Who better to handle 100 different details expertly, to multi-task calmly, and complete all projects with creativity and professionalism. Of course, they want teachers! They use these skills in their classroom each and every day.
The number one job for the school principal is to put an exemplary teacher in every classroom. Teachers are the backbone of a great school. As such, you can’t just leave their recruitment and training to chance. Parents have every right to expect that their child will have an effective teacher each and every year. As President Barack Obama so aptly stated, “From the moment students enter a school, the most important factor in their success is not the color of their skin or the income of their parents, it’s the person standing at the front of the classroom.”
The principal can’t have a child’s teacher be a gamble from year to year. It is not acceptable for a student to have a good teacher one year and a poor teacher the next. A poor teacher can cause students to experience significant setbacks and they can make the job more difficult for the next teacher by creating significant learning gaps.
- 40 to 50 per cent of teachers leave within their first five years on the job.
- These relatively new teachers are leaving for a variety of reasons, but the most common reasons are: they feel burnt out, unsupported, frustrated and disillusioned.
So what can be done? Here are a few thoughts:
- All new teachers need a trusted friend/coach/mentor for at least the first two years. Someone to ask questions of, vent to, and rely on for a sympathetic ear. No reports to supervisors. The biggest challenge in the first few years is classroom management. They need someone who can tell them war stories of their own and give handy tips for specific situations. The coach must be someone who cares enough for the students and school to want to spend time being a friend and coach. And they really can’t accomplish all this and teach full time.
- Every teacher, but especially new teachers, should design a professional development plan with the guidance of the administration. In this plan should be yearly conferences, workshops, and/or seminars paid for by the school. Nothing motivates and excites a teacher more than a supervisor and school which is willing to invest in their teachers, the backbone of excellence of the school.
- Teachers need the tools necessary to be the very best they can be and that includes technology. The school should give their teachers a computer, laptop, or iPad. Anything they need to excite and motivate their students. And then give them the trainig necessary to enhance their classroom with that tecnology.
- Every school should have a curriculum/Innovation specialist. A person who stays in the know concerning all of the latest in educational pedogogy, especially technology related. This specialist helps the teacher to reconceptualize, modernize, and optimize the curriculum. Bringing the latest in age-appropriate education to the teachers keeps them on top in their field which is best for their students.
- The pay scale and bonus schedule should reward lenghth of service. There needs to be rewards and celebrations for every five years a teacher stays at the school with a longterm service bonus at some appropriate number of years. Their efforts, caring, number of students taught, must be recognize as a wonderful and monumental event.
- The school administration needs to recognize the teacher’ scontributions to their students and the school and show them the appreciation they deserve.
- The school administration must show their teachers respect and treat them as professionals at all times. They also should demand that all school constituencies show the teachers appropriate respect. This respect and support of the school’s teachers must be part of the culture of the school and demanded of all constituencies.