My first year of teaching in Detroit was a blur, and I often felt like a struggling swimmer treading water. Each day a new crisis arose, and each day I learned something new about being a teacher and a human. There was the day I learned the social and physical responsibilities of being a teacher when a pep rally ended with police macing and arresting my students. There was the time I learned well-designed graphic organizers increase independent student learning. There was the day that I learned a grade-level meeting was most efficient when a clear agenda was established with actionable steps that recognized everyone’s talents and the collective mission of the school. However, there were even more days that I realized there was so much I did not know.
Luckily, I had a strong network of teachers both in and outside of my school that cared about my personal and professional development. Had it not been for their willingness to listen, excellent guidance, and insight into school and district policy as well as the nuances of educational realities, I would not have been the teacher I needed to be for my students, nor stayed in the field of education.
The reality is early career educators are thrust into their role assuming the same, and sometimes even greater responsibilities, of 20-year veterans. The increasing district, state, and federal demands on educators further complicates this onerous task for teachers who are wrestling with the daunting responsibility of educating and nurturing the children under their care. Given the demanding nature of the profession, it becomes easy to understand why so many early educators leave the profession in their first 3 to 5 years in the classroom.
As a response to this loss of teachers who leave the profession for jobs offering greater financial rewards or less stressful environments, many states, including New York, are now adopting programs to support early career teachers. These induction programs seek to identify common needs for early educators and support them. However, clarity around what these induction programs will look like has not been flushed out, and, in the meantime, wonderful new teachers are in need of support.
The New Teacher Network at Teachers College (NTN@TC) seeks to fill that void for recent TC graduates. NTN@TC has surveyed research on early career educators to identify the common areas of struggle for new(er) teachers, specifically classroom management, motivating students, differentiating instruction, assessing student work (in a timely fashion), and relations with parents. NTN@TC also approaches this coaching and support understanding that unsupportive environments compound the struggles of early career educators. Therefore, NTN@TC has designed workshops, podcasts, a blog, online forums, and hands on coaching to provide the necessary support and cultivate an educator community that enables growth and encourages collaboration.
NTN@TC aims to provide key levers of professional support that respects teacher’s individuality and provides the tools for professional growth in a non-evaluative way.
In the coming weeks, our podcasts will highlight different pedagogical techniques that can be used in the classroom and pressing educational issues to situate our work as educators in the civic sphere, this blog will continue to provide additional resources and tools for teachers in the network to use and implement in the classroom, and we will continue to come into your classrooms (as asked) to help you develop.
There is no more noble profession than teaching, and (I would argue) no harder job than being a quality educator. Our goal at NTN@TC is to help you in anyway you see as needed. Let us know what we can do to help!