Imagine being a new teacher, thrust into your first classroom and given sole responsibility for managing the students, planning and executing the lessons, and assessing student learning. Imagine your first teaching experience being in a school with high teacher turnover, high student mobility, and limited resources to support you, working with students whose needs—financial and social—reach beyond the classroom.
Unfortunately, this scenario is all too real for many novice teachers. They work in isolation, despite the best intentions of their colleagues, who have to lead their own classrooms, and face all the insecurities associated with teaching for the first time: assimilating to the building culture, procedures, and systems; learning new curricula and appropriate pacing; and identifying and navigating individual student needs and behaviors, to name a few. As result, too many new teachers feel ineffective or leave the profession after only a few years.
How can beginning teachers be better supported to be successful in the classroom? To move beyond “survival mode” and become comfortable running the class, learn effective teaching practices, engage in reflection cycles to continuously improve their practice, and help students make academic gains? A new report from SRI Education reveals how a teacher induction program from the New Teacher Center (NTC) helped beginning teachers improve student achievement in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics.
SRI Education evaluated NTC’s Investing in Innovation (i3) Validation grant to measure the impact of NTC’s new teacher induction model on teacher retention, teacher practice, and student achievement. NTC’s model involves indepth training of mentors comprised of Mentor Academy (four meetings per year), mentor forums (12 per year), in-field support from lead coaches, and peer coaching and shadowing. Mentors are assigned to work with new teachers frequently (weekly) and intensively (an average of 60 minutes per meeting) during their first two years. The mentors use a system of NTC-developed online formative assessments and tools to develop teachers’ skills in planning lessons, analyzing student work, and using data to inform instruction, among others.
Using a randomized controlled trial in two districts—Broward County Public Schools and Chicago Public Schools—the SRI team compared the teacher and student outcomes of teachers who received the NTC mentoring (treatment) with those of teachers who received the typical district supports (control). Results showed that two years of induction support from NTC mentors led to positive impacts on student achievement. On average, students in grades 4-8 of treatment teachers outperformed students of control teachers, gaining an additional 2 to 3.5 months of learning in ELA and 2.4 to 4.5 months in mathematics. Teacher retention and teacher practice outcomes were similar for the treatment and control groups.
SRI Education is now conducting an evaluation of NTC’s scale up of this induction model in five additional urban sites, from 2016 through 2019. That study will provide an opportunity to validate these findings.
With the daunting challenges novice teachers face, a comprehensive induction program that shows such promise may be one solution to supporting and retaining new teachers, particularly in high-needs schools and districts.