Sustaining Teacher Training In A Shifting Environment
Dan Goldhaber | National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER) and Center for Education Data and Research (CEDR) at the University of Washington
Matt Ronfeldt | University of Michigan
Breaking Down the Issue
- Student teaching placements influence teacher effectiveness. If student teaching experiences are constrained by the pandemic, teacher candidates may lose valuable experiences and schools may lose the opportunity to shape and evaluate prospective hires.
- Teacher preparation programs and student teaching experiences play a major role in determining where candidates take job placements, in ways that can influence both job markets and staffing shortages.
Strategies to Consider
- Teachers and teachers-intraining who participate in online practice teaching see significant improvements in teaching skills.
- School systems can provide inservice supports for new teachers whose student teaching experiences were interrupted or incomplete.
- Stronger partnerships between teacher preparation providers and remote districts have the potential to bring significant benefits, both for student teachers and for districts facing staffing shortages.
- Student teachers represent an important pool of additional talent for schools; creative deployment of student teachers could provide a major boost as the COVID-19 crisis continues.
Strategies to Avoid
- Low-quality teacher mentoring programs, as well as those that are not sustained across multiple years, are likely to be ineffective.
- Teacher effectiveness might show up differently in an online setting – so relying on past measures of teacher quality will likely be insufficient.
Structural Supports to Promote Teacher Well-being
Breaking Down the Issue
- Burnout and demoralization are meaningfully different forms of work dissatisfaction that each affect teachers’ ability to do their jobs and influence decisions to remain in the profession.
- System and school conditions contribute to or buffer against demoralization and burnout in ways that directly affect the lives of both teachers and students.
- Evidence is growing that the pandemic has increased demoralization and burnout among many teachers.
Strategies to Consider
- A culture of mutual trust, respect, and open communication among teachers and school leaders allows them to work together to improve practices and solve problems.
- A schoolwide commitment to social and racial justice and to affirming educators’ identities can help counter the forces that contribute to high rates of burnout and turnover for teachers of color.
- School leaders who protect teachers’ time and prioritize teacher learning see higher levels of teacher satisfaction.
- Teacher involvement in the design and implementation of learning opportunities is essential to effectively improve teacher morale and student achievement.
- Trauma-informed strategies and mindfulness supports for teachers reduce stress in ways that positively affect both teachers and students.
- Open communication with educators and collecting data on teachers’ professional concerns allows school and district leaders to more accurately identify and address the root causes of teachers’ dissatisfaction.
Strategies to Avoid
- Wellness requires ongoing and long-term schoolwide change and should not be treated as a superficial, siloed, or short-term goal.
- Although school leaders set the direction in the school, prescribing practices without teacher involvement and monitoring compliance often result in low levels of teacher buy-in and adoption.
District Systems to Support Equitable and High-Quality Teaching and Learning
PRINCIPAL SUPERVISORS: Principal supervisors support principals’ instructional leadership growth when they dedicate their time to that work and coach principals from a teaching and learning approach, maintaining their instructional focus even amid operational demands.
TEACHING & LEARNING: Teaching & Learning (T&L) units bolster principals’ equity-focused instructional leadership by supporting their use of a common, research-based definition of high-quality, culturally responsive teaching and by helping principals foster true teacher learning communities with the autonomy and resources necessary for teacher success.
HUMAN RESOURCES: Human Resources (HR) staff fuel principals’ equity-focused instructional leadership when they recruit and select teachers based mainly on performance, and when they strategically partner with principals to ensure teachers are in the right roles and teams for their success, with an emphasis on recruiting and retaining teachers of color.
DATA SYSTEMS: District data systems support principals’ equity-focused instructional leadership by providing principals with ready access to information about their students and staff that helps principals take a strengths-based and anti-racist approach.
OPERATIONAL STAFF: Operational staff help principals engage in equity-focused instructional leadership when they provide high-quality services to schools and strategically partner with principals to ensure that facilities, transportation, and food services in particular support each school’s instructional program.
Improving Teaching Practice with Instructional Coaching
Design Principles for Improving Practice with Instructional Coaching at a Glance
Who are the best candidates to coach and to be coached?
COACHES - Coaches who are skilled in teaching and are able to build trusting relationships with the teachers they coach generate stronger improvements in teaching and learning.
TEACHERS - Teachers who are less experienced and teachers who are more open to being coached benefit most from coaching.
What do effective coaches do?
ACTIVITIES - Planning discussions, observation, and feedback are essential coaching activities
FOCUS - Content-specific coaching in reading and math shows greater effects on teaching and learning than coaching focused on general teaching practices.
FREQUENCY & DURATION - Most studies of coaching include at least several coaching interactions during a school year, though coaching quality likely matters more than quantity.
DELIVERY MODE - Coaching can take place in-person or virtually. Video-recording lessons for coaches can facilitate scaling a coaching program.
What supports do coaches need to be successful?
TIME - Coaches often spend less time coaching than intended. Positioning them as district -level rather than school-level support can help reduce this problem.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT - Coaches benefit from opportunities to connect with and learn from their peers, as well as other forms of professional development.
ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT - Coaches perform best with strong support from their school and district leadership.