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Purpose and Significance of Action Research: Professional Development as a Tool for New Teacher Retention

Posted by Hope Scott on Wednesday, July 21, 2010 Under: Action Research
"In light of teacher shortages, coupled with grim statistics on teacher retention that reveal that "after just three years, it is estimated that almost a third of new entrants to teaching have left the field, and after five years almost half are gone" (National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 2003, p. 19), a principal's support of new teachers in his/her building becomes more important than ever (Dana, 2009, p. 40)." The principal has the awesome responsibility of facilitating the learning and professional growth of all teachers and staff in his/her building. That includes keeping teachers (and staff) alive and growing throughout their careers with professional development that matters. This includes professional development to prepare new teachers for life in the classroom.  My "wondering" for research is: How can professional development be improved to help new teachers get the support they need to be successful from the very first day on campus?  The title of my research is "Action Research: Professional Development as a Tool for New Teacher Retention." 

PURPOSE OF ACTION RESEARCH: Many new teachers leave the profession due to lack of support and training. This is not to say that universities are not doing their job training teachers to teach in their chose discipline. New teacher are also given an insisght into what a classroom "may" look like. In reality, no two classroom envioronments are the same. Each campus has a different feel or climate. You may walk into a campus and feel the a positive energy from the front door with the first greeting you recieve.

SIGNIFICANCE OF ACTION RESEARCH: There has to be a better way to prepare and encourage new teachers to continue in the profession. I feel that professional development is just the first step to this outcome.

Again, I will share insights from classmates. 

Priscilla wrote: "Hope, your project intrigues me because I see too much of what you describe. Last year we had a new teacher and after one school year, she decided that she wanted to pursue another career. Her comment was, "Teaching is too hard. Nobody tells you about all the problems that come up constantly." I know there is no substitute for "getting into the trenches," but there should be more preparation and professional development for new teachers so they are better prepared before that first job comes along."

Charlotte commented: "Hope, how ironic that your action research topic is about professional development for the retention of new teachers. We had a very high turnover this year. The secretary and I were just discussing this issue this morning. She informed me that 50 teachers resigned. Most of them are first year teachers. The majority of them did change their careers after teaching at our school for one year or they moved on to a much better school.
Priscilla, I have heard many new teachers stating that teaching is too hard and yes, Hope, I do believe that no two classrooms are alike. I have watched new teachers who supposedly had mentors but the mentors were too busy to assist the new teachers so they were just thrown to into a classroom and couldn't management or handle the students.

Hope, you chose a great topic. We need great teachers and we need to retain them in our schools that need them the most, therefore, something must be done to show them that they are appreciated and how to manage their classroom."

Allison wrote: "Hope, as I stated in the discussion last week, I believe this is a great topic partly because my first two years of teaching were not pleasant experiences and I wanted to break and run, and partly because I have seen several new teachers fall into this category. We had a student teacher this year at my school that was voted the "Student Teacher of the Year" by her university, but yet who was already showing signs of total frustration when she was substitute teaching at the end of the year. I have looked back on my unpleasant first two years and wondered what could my university have done differently to prepare me or what could the administrators and mentors done that would have
been more supportive? For these reasons, I will be curious to see what your research reveals on this topic."

Bobbi wrote: "One of the main problems I see with new teachers is the unrealistic view they have before getting into a classroom. This is no fault of their own - they are not educated in the whole picture. They are not prepared for the PAPERWORK, the constant changes (campus or district requested) or sometimes severe behavior problems they face. I have seen some that have no clue who to turn to with these behavior problems and may be too embarrassed to ask for help because they think they may be perceived as not having control of the classroom. I am not a mentor but try to make myself available to new teachers for any help they may need. I think they need to be observed without feeling pressure so someone can provide feedback/suggestions (good or bad) and be able to observe some of the veteran teachers also. This will be my 10th year of teaching and I still like to observe teachers I have heard do well."
 
Owen: "
Support systems are crucial in getting the new teachers the help they need to do well. Our district has many support systems mandatory for first and second year teachers. The district provides an off campus mentor. This person is responsible for meeting with the new teacher on their campus at least once weekly. There is also an on campus mentor that provides support for the new teacher. This on campus mentor is usually assigned from the same department as the new teacher. New teacher also need to find the time to attend personal professional development, PD, based on their needs.Our district provides tens of PD in all different areas and I know for sure that this is the same for many other districts."

Leigh: "
I think this is a great action research project. This next school year will be my fifth year of teaching. My first year of teaching was absolutely horrible. I work at the same school as my mom and so she was able to help and support me during that first year, not as a mom but as a veteran teacher that has seen a lot. The school did not have a mentor teacher program for new teachers. Had I not had the support, I know I would have quit after that first year. I now feel much more confident and secure and am so glad I did not quit. If a school had a support system that actually helped new teachers to get through that first year and the next years after, then I think we would have more teachers staying in the field."

Lyndon: "This is definitely something that should be looked into. Action research is useful in this regard because of the numerous differences on each campus. Though the project may yield some results that can be used in multiple schools, action research will allow for the solutions to be tailored to a specific campus.
As a 2nd year teacher, my first year is still fresh and though my 2nd year was considerably tougher than my 1st, it's all about the support. My 1st year went fairly smoothly because I had directors helping me with the large ensemble aspects of teaching I needed help with and a mentor that helped me with other departments and administrative work."

Source: 
Dana, Nancy Fichtman (2009). Leading with passion and knowledge: The principal as action Researcher. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. 

In : Action Research 


Tags: "professional development" "new teacher retention" lamar edld research "action research" 

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Hope Scott I am a Web Technologies teacher. I created this blog as part of my Master of Education in Educational Technology Leadership for Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas.

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