Physician training inspires new approach to supporting early-career teachers
- After studying how doctors are trained, Elizabeth Moje, dean of the School of Education at the University of Michigan, is developing a similar three-year, on-the-job training approach for teachers that she hopes to implement by the fall of 2019, Chalkbeat reports.
- The new approach involves a K-12 teaching school where student teachers or “interns” would train together in one building with intense supervision. During the next phase, they will serve in selected traditional schools as paid classroom teachers — or “residents” who are continuing to learn from professors and veteran teachers, called “attendings.”
- Moje foresees that the model will provide greater support and resources for beginning teachers and encourage more of them to remain in the profession, thus alleviating the high turnover rate and teacher shortage that many districts are experiencing.
Though this model of teacher training seems more intensive than most, the mentoring aspect is based on research. The value of mentoring is being increasingly recognized in corporate and professional circles. In an article in the Huffington Post, the author states: “Mentoring programs are becoming increasingly popular in workplaces, as they help in reducing turnover, promoting growth, and overall help employees adjust to new positions as well as become prepared to move up in the company. We shared earlier that over 79% of Millennials see mentoring as crucial to their career success. According to Chronus Corporation, over 71% of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring programs, showing that mentoring programs are becoming a standard in many workplaces.”
The physician-training model is essentially an in-depth form of mentoring, a technique that has proved to be effective in the past. A report released in 2015 by the National Center of Education Statistics followed the careers of teachers who began teaching during the 2007-2008 school year. After the first year, 92% of beginning teachers who were assigned a first year mentor remained in the profession, compared with 84% of those who did not. By the fifth year, 86% of teachers who had a first-year mentor remained in the field compared with 71% who did not. Though intensive support programs for beginning teachers may be costlier, a report by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future stated that “the costs of such programs could be offset by the savings achieved through decreases in the costs of turnover. “
The need for supporting beginning teachers is widely recognized and recent studies have shown a clear correlation between the quality of a teaching mentor and the effectiveness of a beginning teacher. However, school districts approach this need in various ways, some more effective than others. Some school districts have already implemented year-long residency programs, while others have teachers teach on a part-time basis at the beginning of their career. Some schools look at changing the culture of their schools to focus on multi-levels of support, while others simply use professional learning communities or personalized professional development to address the situation. Since mentoring teachers can affect student learning, school administrators need to take a hard look at current practices and explore new, more effective avenues, if needed.