When beginning a teaching career, one may have nervous excitement about the possibilities, but also feel quite overwhelmed by the magnitude of their job. The first year is difficult. Everything is new and different. They may not feel adequately prepared for the responsibilities that they are tasked with.
According to the National Education Association, approximately 50 percent of new teachers will leave the profession within their first five years. This high turnover rate is forcing several school districts to spend substantial amounts of time and money on recruiting new teachers.
As a new teacher, having a mentor helps build confidence by offering support, encouragement and praise. A mentor can offer experienced advice to help a new teacher develop into an effective teacher. This kind of personal communication is essential to a new teacher’s success.
To combat this high turnover rate Chatham County Schools’ implemented a Beginning Teacher Coach Program for the 2015/16 school year. This mentorship is offered to all 1st and 2nd year teachers. The goals of the program are to improve the instructional effectiveness of beginning teachers, encourage a positive and optimistic perspective of the teaching profession, and increase teacher retention rates.
During the 2018/2019 school year, Chatham County Schools had eight Beginning Teacher Coaches. The coaches are responsible for:
-Initial meeting: collaborate with the Beginning Teacher (BT) to complete a needs inventory in order to identify goals and areas of support.
-Classroom Observations/Walkthroughs: conduct a minimum of 3 informal observations (30-60 minutes) and 3 instructional walkthroughs (15-20 minutes), followed by debriefing sessions with the BT.
-Videotape Lesson Feedback: record at least one lesson taught by the BT. View the lesson with the BT and collaboratively determine instructional considerations or follow-up actions.
-Classroom Visits: accompany the BT to observe an exemplary teacher in the district with expertise in an area targeted for growth. After the visit, process instructional considerations and follow-up actions.
-Lesson Plan Review: review BT lesson plans and provide feedback utilizing the planning requirements of the principal and district.
-Demonstration Lessons: provide demonstration lessons and/or model strategies appropriate to a BT’s needs.
-Informal Check-Ins: meet with the BT a minimum of once per week for informal conversations to process areas of success and provide general support.
-Principal Feedback: check-in with the principal or designee regarding overall BT progress.
During the 2019/2020 school year, CCS will be working with doctoral students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to assess the effectiveness of the Beginning Teacher Coach Program.
Chatham County Schools are committed to retaining highly effective teachers. As new teachers master the craft of teaching and develop classroom expertise, positive mentoring will keep them on track with increased confidence, commitment, and enthusiasm.