Invest in teachers

2012 Update:

Interest among donors and policy makers in comprehensive teacher mentoring as an effective investment continues to grow, as evidenced by NTC’s recent expansion to Boston with the support of the Green Light Fund, and their receipt in November of a federal i-3 innovation grant for expansion of mentoring services in several districts.  For more on promising approaches to improve teaching, including the use of a new web-based e-mentoring platform for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), see a recent CHIP interview here.

Help New Teachers Succeed

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Too often, new teachers are placed in the toughest classrooms, left to sink or swim. Nearly a third leave the profession after three years, and those who stay do not reach peak effectiveness until their fifth year. This pattern is damaging to children: students taught by new teachers tend to learn less than those who have the benefit of more experienced teachers. Moreover, high teacher turnover is associated with lower levels of student achievement and is a huge financial burden for school districts.

How You Can Help

Help new teachers become more effective faster and retain effective teachers longer by supporting comprehensive new teacher mentoring programs. These programs pair new teachers with more experienced ones, who serve as instructional coaches over several years.

High Impact Opportunity

The New Teacher Center (NTC), which operates in multiple locations, helped pioneer the comprehensive teacher mentoring model and has measured teacher effectiveness through gains in student learning. NTC found that teacher effectiveness improved significantly, at a modest cost of $34 – $40 per secondary student. Those mentored in NTC’s two-year program were as effective as fourth-year teachers who had not completed the program. In California, the six-year teacher retention rates for program participants represented a 16 percent increase over other California teachers and a 76 percent increase over national averages. Mentoring programs can also help build a cadre of “master teachers” within a district, keeping the most experienced teachers in classrooms and providing career paths other than administration for outstanding teachers.

Take Action

Check out NTC’s web site for philanthropic opportunities. Many districts and schools also have their own mentoring programs, although these need to be carefully screened for quality. Contact your school and/or district officials to find out if there is a mentoring program in place. Many districts have an associated nonprofit education fund that can accept private donations.

Tips

To achieve the impact described above, mentoring needs to focus on the actual work in the classroom — as opposed to giving general social support — and it must occur regularly over a sustained period of time (at least two years). In selecting any program aimed at supporting new teachers, look for instructors, mentors, or coaches who are selectively recruited for their ability to be effective teachers of both students and adults.

For additional tips and information on this and other newteacher support programs, see pages 19-25 of High Impact Philanthropy to Improve Teaching Quality.

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