Hiring, retaining talented teachers

Teachers reject quality-blind layoffs, reports The New Teacher Project, which advocates A Smarter Teacher Layoff System.

Fully 40 percent of the nation’s teachers (1.25 million) work in one of 14 states — Alaska, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wisconsin — where it’s currently illegal for schools to consider job performance in making layoff decisions. Ten of these states are facing budget deficits greater than 10 percent, meaning that layoffs are a real possibility.

Under quality-blind policies — sometimes called “last-in, first-out” — schools are mandated to lay off the least senior teachers first. This hurts students by depriving them of excellent teachers who are forced to leave simply because they have not taught as long as others.

Teachers want their job performance considered, according to a TNTP survey.

Putting talented teachers in every school will require a coordinated strategy concludes a new Carnegie report.

The report outlines a number of strategies for preparing teachers better. They include holding teaching colleges accountable for their graduates’ performance and encouraging them to implement urban residency programs and alternative certification processes; hiring top-level graduates; and offering incentives for such graduates to work in schools where they are needed most. The report also recommends supporting teachers and principals with ongoing, on-the-job professional development; using data to assess teacher effectiveness more accurately; and, based on comprehensive, performance-based evaluations, retaining only the best teachers.

“The least effective teachers and principals are all too often found in high-poverty, high-minority, and high-immigrant schools,” said report author Talia Milgrom-Elcott.

Why do we treat newer teachers so badly? asks Sara Mead.

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  1. This whole discussion about seniority fries me. We’re losing good, young, energetic teachers because we hate to tell the truth to many older teachers – for some of them, their best days are behind them.

    I’m almost 60, and I know it takes a GREAT deal of effort to get through a day. I just don’t have the boundless energy I had a few years ago. Why don’t we work to match those older teachers with teachers in training, and benefit them both?

    I’m suggesting an apprenticeship program, lasting for the last 2 years of teacher training. The younger teacher works 2-3 days in the classroom, assisting the teacher with mundane tasks, at first. Gradually, the student takes on a greater role. This would be an improvement over the brief student teaching we currently have.

    I’d sign up for such a program, provided that I didn’t have to write a lot of BS paperwork.

  2. Effective teaching? It’s complicated and complex. Beyond scholarship, content knowledge, and dedication, teachers, especially high school teachers, need to be able to create a high performance learning COMMUNITY (classroom) where students WANT to show up and be part of something larger than themselves.

    As students see their communities decimated by foreclosures, job loss, and decay they need a new community to replace the ones they are losing. How do teacher colleges prepare for that? Mazlow’s hierarchy dictates that students need to be emotionally and physically safe and secure in order to self-actualize.

    We need to explore synergistic approaches to teacher development instead of individual teacher improvement.

  3. In recent years, teachers have been increasingly frustrated by being forced to focus more & more on assessment & compliance (at least in Australia ands the UK where we operate). I’ve seen many good teachers become frustrated by these pressures.
    Teachers are interested in facilitating “learning”. When they are diverted from what most see as being their real purpose.