Investing in Teachers through Re-Imagined Professional Learning

May 22 / Darren Reed
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Blog Synopsis

Research points reveals that teachers often leave due to a lack of professional support.  Schools must act now to keep them by investing early and often in teacher development.  This blog highlights new information further demanding change to the professional learning status quo.  Simply, teachers want an approach that is re-imagined by targeting their individual needs and affording them a choice in what they learn.
Amid an ongoing national teacher shortage, tens of thousands of new teachers graduated this spring from schools of education and teacher prep programs across the country.  These aspiring teachers will enter the profession at a time when our schools need them the most.  Unfortunately, research tells us that almost half of them won’t make it past five years in the classroom. 

The struggle to fill teacher vacancies continues in many states and school districts across the nation amid an ongoing teacher exodus.  Many factors are impacting this shortage including increasing demands placed on an already burdened workforce, the ongoing COVID impact, etc. 

In 2022, the NEA reported that 55% of all teachers considered leaving the profession with many citing lack of professional support as a contributing factor. The impact is worse among first year teachers.  According to the Aspen Institute, over 300,000 new teachers join the teaching ranks each year.  However, first year teachers have among the highest rates of turnover of any group of teachers and more than 44 percent of new teachers leave the profession within five years.  Additionally, beginning teachers with little or no preparation are 2½ times more likely to leave the classroom after one year compared to their well-prepared peers. 

So, what can be done to curb this exodus and support teachers through their first year and beyond? 

One way is to invest in their development early and often.  Growing demands placed on teachers and educator fatigue suggest that professional learning is more important than ever to teacher effectiveness.  However, the same traditional approach to teacher professional development won’t cut it.  A recent survey of US K-12 teachers and administrators about teachers’ professional learning post-COVID, revealed that there are opportunities for improvement in this area.  In short, teachers desire a more diverse and re-imagined approach to professional learning. 

Teachers cite changes such as online, on-demand professional development that is also frequent and targeted to their immediate needs.  The survey also revealed a strong desire by teachers to connect with a larger online professional learning community to help build their practice through engagement and collaboration.  It is clear that episodic, “one-size fits all” professional development is no longer viewed as beneficial to teacher effectiveness. 

Next week, I will share what we are doing at the Stride Professional Development Center to address this need and invest in teacher development.  I will highlight how the PD Center supports teachers in taking charge of their learning and how schools and districts can expand their PD approach that takes into account what teachers need to have the best impact on their practice and ultimately, student success.

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