There has been increasing concern in the sector about the preparedness of new teachers to meet 21st century needs, particularly as we see a large cohort of experienced senior teachers leave the profession over the coming decade.
Teacher recruitment and retention is an urgent issue for the education sector today. This challenge requires action across government, but school and early learning service leaders have a crucial role. Successful support and induction of new teachers – or those moving jobs – will help prevent teachers from leaving the profession.
ERO has recently completed an evaluation of Newly Graduated Teachers (NGTs) and their confidence and capability to teach on entering the workforce. A conscious effort and commitment by leadership teams is needed to ensure that beginning teachers are effectively inducted into the work of your school or early learning service, and into the teaching profession as a whole.
Newly Graduated Teachers bring enthusiasm, a passion to make a difference, and new insights and thinking about theory and practice. Their presence in your school or early learning service is an opportunity for reflection on how your teaching team may be operating, your emphasis on improvement, and how successfully your professional learning team(s) are operating.
In ERO’s investigation we found that many beginning teachers struggle to link the theory of their course work with practice in the workplace, and this can pose a real problem for their ability to assess and plan. There are lots of ways that principals, HODs, supervisors and associate teachers can help beginning teachers to bridge this divide.
Mentoring is really important, and effective induction for new teachers should be a core element of your learning culture. It starts with ensuring that new teachers have a clear understanding of key policies, and formal requirements operating in the school or early learning service. Equally, helping new teachers to understand the schools values and cultural expectations also assist in new teachers not making early mistakes and ensures that cultural expectations continue to be reinforced with learners.
Supporting beginning teachers in their planning and using explicit instructional models, if a whole-school model is not in use, will help build teacher capability.
Making time for conversations about practice and team teaching is crucial, so that valuable insights and experience can be passed on to beginning teachers, and they have space to identify where they need support. These conversations ensure that new teachers have a shared view of effective teaching practice, and what the school or service expects.
In regards to formative assessment, our finding would indicate that new teachers are struggling with both the technical application of assessment, and linking assessment insights into differentiated teaching strategies.
Our report notes that most beginning teachers were unprepared for the significant diversity, both ethnic and in terms of learning needs, evident in 21st century education settings. These are areas where explicit guidance and support should be given to the beginning teacher.
Another important issue was the widespread use of fixed term contracts for graduates. We found this reduced leaders’ commitment to their induction and development. It is important to recognise that training the next generation of teachers is not only the responsibility of pre-service programme providers – the whole sector must play its part.
Ensuring high-quality induction for beginning teachers and new teachers entering your school or service is an investment in our future as a profession and system.
As a new teacher to the profession your ongoing growth and development is a partnership with the school and early learning service you are working in. It is important that you take responsibility for your development. Critical to this is setting goals in relation to what you want to achieve, and reflecting on how you are doing and what you next want to achieve. In this ensure that you have regular scheduled time for discussion about how you are doing and how you might further improve your practice.
Search out and discuss with your mentor or supervisor, professional learning opportunities which might be available through the year, in particular opportunities to observe others in their teaching.
Identify networks which might be able to provide you with professional support, expertise, resources and training opportunities. Equally, your colleagues from your teacher education programme are an important source of both support and potential advice, they understand what you might be going through, so stay connected, and share insights and search out assistance.
Lastly, it’s really important to look after yourself. Teaching can be a challenging profession.