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Improving Professional Development for New Teachers Retention

Posted by Hope Scott on Saturday, July 17, 2010 Under: Action Research
Action research: How does professional development help teacher retention.  Thesis: Many new teachers leave the classroom disillusioned due to a lack of support and training.  

My original comment was as follows:
 "If I were an administrator, one area I feel would benefit from an action research investigation is Professional Development for new teachers. This is a problem of critical importance because new teachers leave campuses and districts due to the lack of support they receive from principals and veteran teachers. New teachers need support of administrators and mentors to help them to be successful from their first day on campus. They are really thrown into a sink or swim situation. Many come straight from a college classroom with all kinds of ideas of an utopian school: a school that is 'perfect,' with 'above average' students who follow all the rules and never give anyone a moment of trouble, a school where there is community and parental support, and where money is no object when there are needs. Or they come from industry, where things are accomplished in a totally different way, with several lines of command or lots of money to spend to fix problems. Then reality hits them: there is no such thing as a perfect school.

Action research, according to Dana, is intended to bring about change of some kind (Dana, 2009). Action research could be used to find "best practices" for new teachers. This should include input from new and veteran teachers and from administrators. The change should involve ways to improve teacher retention. I love the analogy used in Examining What We Do To Improve Our Schoolsof a principal's quest to get healthy. Action research must involve the steps a physician takes to diagnose and ultimately help a patient to health, namely, a systematic approach to improvement (teacher retention) based on the process of inquiry and use of diagnostic data from multiple sources (Harris, et.al., 2010)."

Several classmates in my Educational Leadership class have weighed in on the subject.  Here are a few quotes:
Charlotte wrote: "Hope, it is great that you would suggest professional development as an action research study because this is definitely true. Last year, several first year teachers left the teaching field because they were thrown into the job with no mentor or no assistance and there was not enough professional development for new teachers. They attended one new teacher workshop and most of the teachers who had mentors were extremely busy and couldn't assist them but yet they were being paid a stipend to assist first year teachers. This is definitely a problem area because if new teachers were trained properly or had more staff development training, the retention rate would be higher and new teachers would have a positive attitude and be prepared to teach and manage their classrooms effectively."

Dawana wrote: "Mrs. Scott as a fairly new teacher I felt that I did not have all the support that I needed. I have to look for answers and help on my own when I thought that I should have had a mentor there to assist me. Several times I did get frustrated and contemplated quitting because it was so discouraging feeling like you have no idea what is going on. I am going into my third year and still feel as though I am out of the loop on a lot of things. The most comforting thing I have learned is that I am not alone and in this profession it is a continual learning process."

Jack wrote: "The first year of teaching is a killer. Canned professional development is of some help, but the best help comes from a really good mentor. I am from a small school. I was a technology applications and computer science teacher and my mentor was the ag teacher. Although well intended, you can imagine how little help I got the first year. The first year is pure survival. I like your idea of inquiring about professional development for first year teachers. It is a much needed area for research. I would also like to see what results would come from a study on mentoring a first year teacher. I sometimes think that administrators believe it is best to just throw the first year teachers in the fire and see if they come out alive. Honestly, that may be the best way, but I am looking forward to seeing what research you are able to come up with."  

Allison wrote: "
Hope, this is an excellent topic to pursue through action research. I say this because this topic hits very close to home for me. My first year of teaching was literally a "Here's your classroom, have a great year" kind of experience. My second year, I moved to a different, much bigger district and I felt even more isolated and overwhelmed. I had a mentor at both schools, both they were busy with their own responsibilities and did not make themselves readily available to me. I believe this is a huge area of concern that would be of great relevance to research not only for helping first year teachers, but also retaining them as you stated. I look back on those first two years and wonder how I managed to stay in this profession (there are days I still question this decision). I also was struck by the analogy of improving the adminstrator's health to improving schools that was used in the book Examining What We Do To Improve Our Schools. (Harris, et.al., 2010) One step towards seeing this improvement would be, as you stated, to improve the professional development for new teachers, thereby increasing teacher retention rates.
Harris, S., Edmonson, S., and Combs, J. (2010). Examining what we do to improve our schools: 8 steps to improve our schools. Eye on Education Press."

Sharon wrote: "Hope, this is a great topic to pursue thorugh action research. I have found that many of the young or first year teachers will not ask questions. With 3 out of 5 teachers leaving the profession within five years, we will have to do something to help new teachers stay in the profession."

Kristi wrote: "This would be an excellent action research study. Teaching is a profession in which many quit within their first few years. Something must be done to stop this, and I truly feel you are on point with your chosen action research topic. More professional developments and better professional support must be provided to first year teachers to keep them from becoming part of the statistics. I agree with you on including input from both new and veteran teachers. This provides a wide spectrum to new educators on what to expect from their chosen career at different points. I look forward to hearing how your action research study goes." 

Sources I plan to explore:

In : Action Research 

Tags: "teacher retention" "professional development" "action research" 

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About Me

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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