How Can We Support New Teachers?

We even involve boys in the lessons—after all, they’re changing and growing, too. On average, ten percent of new teachers resign within the first one to three years of teaching. To address this issue, education researchers conducted the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), the first cross-country examination of learning and teaching in lower secondary-school environments.  Unlike other surveys that assess teacher effectiveness from an outside perspective, TALIS asks teachers to reflect on their own feelings of self-efficacy.

Here’s what TALIS learned:

New teachers feel less confident in their ability to be effective.

What can be done: Building up teachers’ confidence goes a long way towards creating a positive learning experience for teachers and students. Self-efficacy may be influenced by factors such as classroom environment, professional development, and feedback on performance.

Both new and experienced teachers work under similar classroom conditions. In countries where retention of new teachers’ is especially low, attrition rates are attributed to new teachers’ facing more challenging conditions. However, the TALIS data indicated that teachers’ shared similar language skills, socio-economic backgrounds, and number of personal and educational resources.

What can be done: Even if new teachers don’t work under more strenuous conditions, they still feel less confident in their abilities. Restructuring a school’s system to lessen the teaching load of new teachers could provide more time for teaching practice, lesson planning, and classroom observation.

New teachers spend a large portion of their time on classroom management. On average, new teachers spend 9% of their time doing administrative tasks and 18% on maintaining classroom order, leaving only 73%  for teaching. One in four new teachers feel a high need to develop their disciplining skills whereas only one in eight experienced teachers express this same concern.

What can be done: New teachers are cognizant of their need to develop classroom management skills – and are eager to improve. Facilitating these skills through in-school professional training and development could help to increase time for teaching and learning.

More than half of new teachers’ receive feedback reports only once a year or less. The survey shows that three-fourths of new teachers’ work in schools with mentoring and entrance programs; some are predominantly administrative while others involve year long commitments. Regardless, there was no relationship between these programs and the amount of teacher appraisal received.

What can be done: Schools could be taking better advantage of new teachers’ who are open to constructive criticism and willing to work in areas that need improving. That doesn’t mean feedback must be formally warranted; any kind of consistent mentor-ship and guidance would provide additional support.

Take away message: Reducing the teaching load, offering more feedback from mentoring programs, and establishing opportunities for classroom management development are some of the ways to bolster new teachers’ confidence and encourage professional success – in spite of the conditions.

For more information on TALIS, please visit http://www.oecd.org/

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Written by Alice Formwalt