Column: District 518 supports its new teachersWORTHINGTON — This school year Worthington District 518 hired 17 new teachers. Of those, six were new to the teaching profession.
By: Tammy Timko, District 518, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — This school year Worthington District 518 hired 17 new teachers. Of those, six were new to the teaching profession. Each of these teachers came to the district with high expectations and hopes. Yet, studies show that nearly half of all new teachers leave the profession in the first five years of their career. District 518 has made a commitment to lowering those percentages within the district.
There are two main reasons why it is important for the district to address this issue. The first and most important is student achievement. It has been shown that home/family life and teacher quality are the two biggest factors in student achievement. If new teachers are able to start their career with support and encouragement from experienced teachers, they are more likely to positively affect student achievement.
Secondly, replacing a high percentage of teaching staff can also be costly to a district. It is estimated that the hiring and training of new teaching staff is likely to cost well over $5,000 for each position. This can add up quickly.
During the 2008-09 school year, District 518 increased their support of new teachers by expanding the teacher mentoring program. This program has many layers, some are new and some have been part of the district for many years. New teachers to the district started their school year a week before the rest of the teaching staff. During that week they were introduced to many aspects of the district, from the district computer and grading system to instruction on classroom and building procedures. Each new teacher was also paired up with an experienced teacher that will be their mentor throughout the school year. The mentors were trained to provide a safe and supportive environment for the new teachers to share challenges, ask questions, and refine their teaching skills. In addition, the mentors and new teachers observe each other in the classroom. By reflecting on these observations, both are able to learn and grow. The last layer of support that the program offers is continuing training for the new teachers in the form of district in-service days and specific trainings tailored to their needs.
Successful mentoring benefits all of the people involved. For school administrators, mentoring increases teacher retention and instructional quality. For mentors, the program encourages self-reflection and improvements in their own practice. For the new teacher, it can mean the difference between a successful teaching career and leaving it all behind. For parents and students, it means a better quality education and increased student achievement. Everyone wins when new teachers are supported.
Tammy Timko is the coordinator of teaching and learning for District 518.