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Marshall Memo on first year of teaching

  Marshall Memo: How New Teachers Can Survive Their First Year

This Boston Plan for Excellence study of new-to-Boston teachers in 2003-04 lists the following conclusions and recommendations:

• The greatest challenges teachers faced in their first year were twofold: insufficient communication, direction, and support from principals and other administrators and lack of clarity about norms and expectations for teachers. One teacher said, “I have no clue how I am doing in the classroom except I think I am doing well based on general feedback. I know the principal thinks I am a good teacher, but this does nothing to reassure me when every day I fight/argue with my students.” Another teacher said that the biggest challenge was a “lack of a clear disciplinary plan and a poor administrative response to disciplinary problems.”

-       Evaluate principals on their ability to provide useful feedback to teachers from their classroom observations.
-       Require each school to plan a formal orientation for new teachers and prepare a written handbook with school procedures, norms, important dates, evaluation protocols, and other relevant information.
-       Expect that principals will support teachers in managing disciplinary issues.

• New teachers found their colleagues to be their most valued resource. One teacher said of her fellow teachers, “Without them, I wouldn’t have made it.”

-       Provide new teachers with more opportunities to learn from their colleagues in team meetings and other school-based professional development.
-       Require that schools increase opportunities for new teachers to be observed by and observe their colleagues and ensure that feedback is provided.
-       Ask schools to offer candidates opportunities to interview with other teachers during the hiring process and to invite serious candidates to shadow a teacher for a day.
-       Assign all new teachers a mentor who works in the same school, grade, and/or subject and provide formal release time to support this relationship.
-       Provide training for all new mentors and support for all mentors.

The report also quotes the elements of a successful induction program from Wong and Wong’s 2003 paper, How to Retain New Teachers:
-       Begin with an initial four or five days of training in classroom management and effective teaching techniques before school starts.
-       Offer a continuum of professional development through systematic training over a period of two or three years.
-       Provide study groups where new teachers can network and build support, commitment, and leadership in a learning community.
-       Incorporate a strong sense of administrative support.
-       Integrate a mentoring component into the induction process.
-       Present a structure for modeling effective teaching during in-service and mentoring.
-       Provide opportunities for inductees to visit demonstration classrooms.

“Building a Professional Teaching Corps in Boston: Survey of Teachers New to the Boston Public Schools in SY 2003-04” – a report of the Boston Plan for Excellence, June 2005

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