5 Reasons Every Educator Should Read "On The Path To Equity"

Young teachers want to leave teaching.  In short they (we), are overwhelmed.

"On The Path to Equity" is a powerful read for educators that addresses teacher attrition.  The subtitle, however, is misleading: "Improving The Effectiveness of Beginning Teachers."  Rather than best practices to promote the success of young teachers, the resource concerns itself with teacher attrition, the inequity of effective teacher distribution, and a Comprehensive Induction program aimed to help young teachers transition into the profession.

Every educator should read the resource for 5 reasons.

1.  The Numbers

The figures don't lie, teachers are leaving the profession at an alarming rate.

" About 13 percent of the American workforce of 3.4 million public school teachers either moves or leaves the profession each year."

"more than one million teachers, including new hires, transition into, between or out of schools annually."

"teachers leaving teaching after 5 years ranges from 40 percent to 50 percent"

"states spend between 1 billion and 2.2 billion a year on teacher attrition turnover."

"The annual attrition rate for first-year teachers has increased by more than 40 percent over the past two decades."

2.  It identifies an alarming reason for teacher attrition: isolated working conditions

"But we work with kids!  You couldn't be farther from isolated!" The resource highlights the lack of connectedness as a reason that teachers are leaving.

Teachers feel like their voice goes unheard, their effort unnoticed.  Collective effort between teachers has been lost and they feel their "in the trenches" fighting the battle by themselves.

Other reasons that teachers leave are highlighted in a passage from
Edward Deci in "Why We Do What We Do":

"Over and over, teachers have told us hat they began their careers with excitement and enthusiasm, eager to work with the students to facilitate their intellectual and personal development.  But as the years passed and the pressures and demands intensified, the teachers have said, they lost much of their enthusiasm.  They point to standardized curricula, where they have to teach specialized material rather than what seemed right to them, and to the pressures on them to be sure their students get high standardized achievement scores."

The Atlantic also has a good perspective on the matter

3.  The Idea of Social Capital
"Social Capital- the pattern of interactions among teachers and administrators focused on student learning-affects student achievement and school success across all types of schools and grade levels."

Social Capital highlights the importance of collaboration in the success of students.  Further, collaboration is identified as a necessary ingredient to retain teachers.

This idea is penetrating because it stresses that collaboration helps teachers AND increases student success.  It seems that someone has finally hit the nail on the head when advocating for common preparation time.

4.  Induction Program necessities
What does it take to keep young teachers?  The resource says that facilitating a proper transition is imperative.  It identifies four important Induction Program components :mentoring, reduced preparation/course load, access to seminars/workshops (professional development), and frequent communication with a principle.

Most districts can improve their induction program by considering and including the components above.

5.  The WOW statements

When I read, I annotate.  One of my rare notes is "WOW".  A "WOW" statement causes me to stop and deal with a physical response to what I  just read.

The "WOW" statements for this resource are:

"Short-term, replacement strategies treat teachers like interchangeable, expendable parts rather than as young professionals meriting sustained investments in their development as part of a comment of expert, experienced teachers." 

"Teachers need from three to seven years in the field to become highly skilled..." 

"...reduced preparation/course load" (as an Induction Program requirement) 

"Overall the quality of professional development has failed to keep pace with the enormous changes in the student population and the diversity of their learning needs." 

"On The Path To Equity" is an important step in the right direction when discussing teacher attrition.  The Pragmatic TV Teacher discusses the same issue here, here, and here in Edweek.

Thanks for reading.

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