- To better prepare prospective teachers for the realities of the classroom and increase the likelihood they'll remain committed to the teaching profession, the Golden Apple Foundation in Illinois is providing additional opportunities for classroom experience to provide a better sense of what to expect and what more can be brought to the classroom, Chalkbeat reports.
- Under the program, roughly 120 undergraduate students are paid a $2,000 stipend to teach four-week summer school sessions each morning under the guidance of a mentor and attend training sessions each afternoon. In exchange, they must commit to teaching for five years in a high-needs classroom.
- Since hard-to staff schools usually end up with the least-experienced teachers and experience higher-than-average turnover rates, this program is designed to help students gain experience, learn whether they're cut out for teaching, and increase their resilience when they become classroom teachers.
Attracting and retaining teachers, especially to schools in high-needs locations, is becoming increasingly difficult. Some states are scrambling to issue emergency teacher licenses to fill in the gaps while more qualified candidates are sought.
As the recent round of teacher protests reveals, teacher pay is just one concern expressed by those in the field. Poor working conditions, lack of support and staff shortages in schools are also driving protests and impact students, as well.
A 2015 review of studies regarding reasons teachers tend to leave high-poverty classrooms in particular found, overall, these teachers are not fleeing the students but rather the poor working conditions that affect both teaching and learning. Among the factors: school leadership, relationships with other teachers and school culture.
The most inexperienced and unprepared teachers also often end up in the neediest classrooms, a situation that not only impacts the turnover rate of teachers but the academic success of students. Many new teachers are not fully prepared for the reality of the classroom experience, especially in inclusive classrooms, as research from Understood and the National Center for Learning Disabilities found.
School districts and higher ed institutions are working together to find better ways to prepare students for these realities. Teacher residency programs are gaining traction, as are stronger mentorship programs that provide year-round support for beginning teachers.
Some districts, like New York City, are combining mentorship programs with incentives like free housing to attract students. But all of these attempts have one thing in common: Stronger support systems, they have found, are key to creating a better prepared, more resilient and more diverse workforce.