4 Ways to Improve Teacher Quality
Let’s be honest, new teachers usually don’t enter the classroom a polished product, regardless of how good their teacher preparation program was. They typically need time to mature, like a vintage wine. The American public doesn’t understand this, and they expect new teachers to produce at an optimal level immediately. Educators know that it takes time and resources to develop a quality teacher. In this article, I will present 4 ways to improve teacher quality.
1. During their first 3-5 years, they need to be set up for success. We shouldn’t be placing new teachers in tough urban environments, or in classes with a high mix of students with learning disabilities or behavioral problems. Ironically, that is precisely what happens. Before the first day of school, veteran teachers receive their class rosters and raise holy hell when they receive a high mix of special needs students. To appease these educators, the bulk of these students end up being assigned to new and novice teachers who have no idea what they are in for. In the end, the students end up suffering, and these new teachers end up leaving the field or changing schools.
2. We need to provide new and novice teachers with mentors who have proven that they are effective teachers. From personal experience, I can attest to the powerful effect that having an effective teacher as a mentor can have on a new teacher. They along with informal mentors helped me blossom from a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. I will always be indebted to them for that, even though they did it for the love of the profession.
3. They need access to high-quality, evidence-based professional development. This will allow them to sharpen their teaching skills by adding to their repertoire strategies and methods that have been proven to impact student performance positively. We have to end the process of booking professional development trainers through the buddy-buddy system. In the end, our teachers and students end up suffering.
4. Pay for advanced degrees. What if every school district paid for the tuition of teachers who wanted to pursue a Master’s degree in education? Some school districts are already doing this and reaping enormous benefits. Teachers who successfully complete graduate programs in education see a massive boost in their teacher efficacy and effectiveness and students see an increase in academic performance. It would take 10 years of professional development sessions to equal the education benefits of a 30-36 hour Master’s degree program in education. This would only require a small investment on the part of the school district. This cost would be offset by the fact that the district would see a decrease in teacher turnover, as it costs large districts millions of dollars to recruit, and hire new teachers. It also costs them millions of dollars each year to retain students in their current grade.
By no way is this way is this an exhaustive list. I am just a former educator and education researcher sharing 4 tips on how to improve teacher quality. What did I miss?