Anyone who has read more than a few of my little rants (and I thank you for that!) knows that I am a big advocate of providing teachers with support and training from day one of their careers. It makes no sense to hire someone and then leave them to sink or swim alone in their classroom. There is plenty of research to show that lack of support is one of the major reasons, along with pay and student discipline, for teachers leaving the profession in the first five years (40-50% quit in that period according to various studies).
It seems that a growing number of school systems are waking up to this fact and are implementing mentor/coaching programs for beginning teachers. They are also realizing that the cost of these programs, approximately $3000 per teacher according to the article, is far less than the cost of continually recruiting and training new teachers – if they can even find enough in some subject areas. Administrators are also discovering that the students of teachers who receive this kind of support also do better work in those classes.
As states allow districts to hire more and more teachers with minimal qualifications (a degree and a test), mentoring programs for beginners will become even more critical. Although some people think that teaching skills are aquired by magic or osmosis, becoming a good teacher is something that must be learned. A good mentoring program not only helps teachers expand their classroom abilities faster but it also helps their students by minimizing the amount of time they spend as guinea pigs for beginners to experiment on. [That’s no cut on beginning teachers. I’m glad that the students I had in class my first couple of years didn’t come back and sue me for malpractice. :-)]