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FOCUS ON NEW TEACHERS: American School Board Journal Highlights Programs for New Teachers

The December 2002 American School Board Journal contains two articles on support programs for new teachers.

In “Supporting New Teachers,” authors Harry K. Wong and Christina Asquith argue that each teacher who leaves a district within the first three years costs taxpayers approximately $50,000. Calling “induction the key to retaining teachers,” they spotlight the efforts currently underway at Lafourche Parish Public School district in Louisiana. The program at Lafourche, the Framework for Inducting, Retaining, and Supporting Teachers (FIRST), began with four days of training as well as an introduction to the school’s culture and the community. Today, the FIRST program has expanded from four days to three full years of ongoing training. It is so successful that Louisiana has adopted it as a statewide model called Louisiana FIRST.

The second article, “The New Teacher Mentors,” by Tom Ganser examines four trends that are changing the look of mentoring programs for teachers. The first trend is “high-stakes mentoring,” a logical consequence of NCLB’s high-stakes testing that ties mentoring to teacher effectiveness and student learning. A second trend is a varied pool of beginning teachers that includes people moving into the teaching field from other professions. The third trend is a new type of mentors, made necessary because the number of suitable mentors is shrinking as the expectations for mentoring is growing. One solution is a mentor team, rather than the traditional one-on-one approach. A final trend is the need to make mentoring programs a part of the emerging school culture. Ganser argues that school districts officials looking to implement a mentoring program need to be aware of these trends when deciding what kind of program to create.

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