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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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A Lesson from the London Riots: Support New Teachers

C. Harry Knowles

Inventor, KSTF Founder and President Knowles Science Teaching Foundation

C. Harry Knowles is an inventor, and the founder and president of the board of trustees of the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, an organization that supports new science and math teachers.

When one takes a close look at the faces behind the riots and civil unrest wreaking havoc on the United Kingdom, one sees the young, the angry, and the idle. An 11-year-old accompanied by his mother to court, a 15-year old orphan, countless teens fueled by discontent. They are the faces of a generation that society has failed.

While many attribute this mass pandemonium to class struggle, it is a lack of education that deserves a place at the top of the list. Just last year, 36 local councils (regional governing bodies) in the UK received the maximum budget cuts of 8.9 percent, with a 4.4 percent average across 350 councils. The effects of these cuts run deep and impact living standards across the board, from social programs to education. Without the values and individual empowerment that result from a quality education, any society is lost.

In the US, we will face a similar fate if we don't make education of our youth a top priority. Education reform starts with recruiting, supporting and retaining quality teachers. No investment is more worthwhile than this; we cannot lose sight of it as politicians quarrel over balancing budgets, and global share prices continue to plunge.

While there are no quick answers, we must retain our newly trained teachers. The attrition rate for new math and science teachers in the US is over 20 percent per year. That loss is not necessary.

Resources for New Teachers

There are numerous resources available for new teachers, including the following:

Please add more of your favorite resources in the comments area of this page. The results of a well-educated youth are economic growth, social stability, and personally enriched lives. If our nation fails here, our society is lost.

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  • C. Harry Knowles

    Inventor, KSTF Founder and President Knowles Science Teaching Foundation
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    Comments (3)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

    David Wees's picture
    David Wees
    Formative Assessment Specialist for New Visions for Public Schools
    Blogger 2014

    I think it would be worth adding some books for new teachers to read. Since I'm a math teacher, I'll add some math professional development books.

    A Mathematician's Lament by Paul Lockhart
    Mathematics Miseducation by Derek Stolp
    The Math Instinct by Keith Devlin
    How Children Fail by John Holt
    What's Math Got To Do With It? by Jo Baoler

    What other books can we suggest new teachers read (that they may not have been exposed to as part of their teacher education program)?

    M. A. Hauck, M.Ed's picture
    M. A. Hauck, M.Ed
    Life Skills Support Teacher

    Your liberal social agenda has produced a generation of "amoral, uneducated, welfare dependent, brutalised youngsters."

    This is happening now in America in the form of "flash mobs." When you have leadership that fails to hold people accountable for their actions (kids AND their parents), you are going to create a virtual feral underclass that has no respect for authority or basic morality.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2024284/UK-riots-2011-Liberal-...

    Alyson Mike's picture

    Mr Knowles statement that we must retain new teachers is on the mark, especially in hard to staff positions like math, science, special education. With support from mentoring all new teachers are more apt to stay in the profession, but also mentoring can accelerate their growth so they are more effective.

    While many districts provide mentoring support for new teachers, there are as many that have no formal induction or mentoring program. Mentoring needs to be more than a buddy system - it should be a structured program that offers new teachers support and feedback on their practice.

    One other support I would like to add to Mr Knowles list is eMSS - e-Mentoring for Student Success. This online content focused mentoring program provides support to new math, science, and special education teachers. Research on the eMSS program shows retention rates of 82-90% for new teachers who participate in the program. http://newteachercenter.org/eMSS

    Full disclosure - I am the director of the program.

    Alyson Mike
    Director, Online Professional Development
    New Teacher Center.

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