In the second of a two-part essay (part 1), a former teacher recalls his second and third (and final) years in the classroom, briefly recounting the elements that convinced him to leave the profession.
He’s certainly not alone since studies still show that more than 30% of all teachers quit within their first five years. A turn-over rate that would trigger alarms in almost any other profession.
So, how do you fix that? Here’s the key.
As every teacher must, I learned a great many things. Among them was that I might have succeeded in a less traditional educational environment, or with older students, or with a better system — hell, any system — established to support me and others in the first few years of our teaching careers. The significance of this last point cannot be overstated: It behooves every school and every district to establish and maintain a carefully considered and faithfully implemented program for recruiting, orienting, supporting, and retaining teachers.
Unfortunately, that kind of support for beginning teachers takes money. And in this country we don’t like spending money on schools.
However, a major and sustained investment in training and support for teachers during their first three years would do more to improve education in this country than any other reform idea that’s been proposed.