by Claire Miller
New teachers face a number of challenges in the first few years of their careers as they take the instructional strategies and subject-area content they learned in college and apply it to their own classrooms.
The College of Education’s Network for Enhancing Teacher Quality (NET-Q) project features several initiatives and programs designed to support these novice teachers in their burgeoning careers.
Gwen Benson, COE associate dean for school and community partnerships and principal investigator for the NET-Q project, discussed how NET-Q aids new teachers at a panel discussion and webinar entitled, “A System Approach to Building a World-Class Teaching Profession: The Role of Induction,” in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 4.
“We are an urban university in a partnership with a number of metropolitan and rural school districts and other agencies with a common goal which is to recruit and support new teachers in high-needs schools,” she said. “All of our partners are involved with induction and mentoring.”
Hosted by the Alliance for Excellent Education and the New Teacher Center, the panel discussion focused on induction, or the ways school systems support new teachers. Benson was joined on the panel by Laurie Calvert, teacher liaison for the U.S. Department of Education; Richard Ingersoll, professor of education and sociology in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania; Ellen Moir, executive director of the New Teacher Center; and David Osta, associate director of the New Teacher Center.
While Ingersoll, Moir and Osta discussed research studies on the support structures teachers need to succeed, Benson and Calvert contributed current examples of how veteran teachers, principals and other school system employees benefit from supporting and mentoring new teachers.
Benson used NET-Q’s Cross Career Learning Communities, professional learning communities that bring new and veteran teachers together with university faculty to engage in reflective practice and collaboration, as an example of the type of mentoring new teachers need in their first few years.
“Our Cross Career Learning Communities initiative includes both experienced and novice teachers and provides them the opportunity to resolve issues they face in the classroom,” she said. “These learning communities are designed to mentor and support new teachers, but we’ve seen some cross-mentoring among teachers. For example, if a student teacher is very savvy with integrating technology into the curriculum, this might be something that he or she can share with other teachers. The mentoring goes both ways.”
Benson also said universities can make strides toward strengthening supports for new teachers and administrators by developing online resources, as the COE and Georgia Public Broadcasting are doing for teachers in Georgia, and by designating a staff member to specifically work with teachers, administrators and central office staff in school systems to gauge how prepared alumni of their preparation programs are to work in the field.
“It’s important to listen to what districts tell us about our graduates and use that information to strengthen our programs,” she said. “I believe that colleges of education share a responsibility to support the teachers they have trained and to address induction.”
For more information on the panel discussion, visit http://media.all4ed.org/briefing-oct-4-2011.