What's the best way for schools to keep new teachers from burning out?

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Singleton Professor Emerita

The Courage to Teach

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I think teacher burnout is a cultural issue, created by our de-valuing of teachers... The time has come to change our values and beliefs about teaching.

After more than 35 years in teaching and teacher education, I now realize it takes real courage to teach in this world that has reduced teachers and teaching to technique. I am supporting teachers in the way I have found most effective,through the Circles of Trust approach, grounded in the writing of Parker J. Palmer, author of The Courage to Teach. I am working with the Center for Courage & Renewal(www.couragerenewal.org)in creating space for teachers and others who have decided they will no longer live divided. I have come to understand that burnout is a disease of the heart/the spirit/the soul, caused by our culture that reduces what we do to method and test scores, rather than recognizing that we teach who we are -- that good teaching comes from the teacher's identity and integrity.

I want to change the way we think about teaching, as we are changing the way we think about our effect on the environment. I want to see colleges and universities support their students during their teacher preparation programs in creating the kind of resilience that only comes from within; I want them to continue to support their alumni in their first years of teaching. As more educational leaders come to understand and value the importance of relational trust,and increase their ability to create trust through programs such as the Courage to Lead, they are also an important antidote to burnout, as we move to change the way our culture values teachers.

former classroom teacher, arts educator

Ex teacher and mentoring

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The pressure cooker charter school where I worked had a "mentoring program" - 7 new teachers and one mentor who was a 3 year "veteran" of the school. She was very good at what she was good at - but was not able to mentor in the sense that new teachers need given the structure of the mentoring "program", which was more like a cruel joke - as if dangling and then handing fake food to a starving person.

"mentor: a trusted friend, counselor or teacher, usually a more experienced person. Some professions have "mentoring programs" in which newcomers are paired -- PAIRED with more experienced people, who advise them and serve as examples as they advance."

When a mentor is paired with a mentee they can offer the real support needed but only if they are capable of that kind of connection. Mentoring is not a job but a calling. I am a mentor in my professional life and have only 2 mentees.
Schools, particularly charter schools have adopted a corporate model and culture. This has sadly includes a new layering of spin and BS often touted "best practices" but would be better named " a very good idea IF you did it"

None of the above

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Teachers jobs have become unreasonable by any standard today because so much more is demanded of them. It is not just the tests, not just the increased curriculum demands, not just the additional management requirements, and not just the need to help every student succeed. Teachers today are required to personalize instruction and support learning for every student. To to this efficiently and effectively we need a new technology of learning. We need a computer on every student's desk. Once we have this, the required school infrastructure, the curriculum, and professional development, teachers jobs will once again become reasonable and fulfilling.
Art Bardige

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I was an extremely successful high school math and science teacher for twenty years. My bachelor's was from an Ivy League School, and my masters was from Berkeley.

I would have made enough money to get by (though not to pay for college for the kids) if I had stayed in one place. Unfortunately, most school districts use a civil service model. When I moved out of state, I was looking at starting again at a salary of around $35,000. I left a profession that I loved, because I simply couldn't afford to raise a family.

Maegen Palmieri (not verified)

I am a first time blogger and

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I am a first time blogger and a graduate student at Walden University. I teach first grade and am in my fifth year. This is my third year at my new school. I am writing in response to how to keep new teachers from burning out. Since I've had the opportunity to be a new teacher at two different schools, I've had a chance to see things that were beneficial to a new teacher. I have experienced that it has been valuable to have a mentor teacher. Preferably on the same grade level as the new teacher. I found my mentor to be very helpful during my first year of teaching. I also think it is great to have some type of new teacher meeting monthly or biweekly to give new teachers an opportunity to ask questions and share ideas. I can remember my first year at my current school, and I'd leave with questions running through my mind everyday. I was fortunate enough to have an entire group of new teachers in my building that I was able to consult with. It was also beneficial to know that the administration was supporting new teachers. Something I've found to be extremely helpful is to observe other teachers in your building. In the beginning it was great to see other teachers in my grade level, and now it is great to see a teacher of any grade level, and to hopefully pick up some new teaching strategies that can be adapted to your grade level. I agree with Janet stating that longtime teachers should put their egos and preconceived thoughts about new teachers aside and professionally focus on ways to help the new teacher better themselves at their practice.

Janet Morgan (not verified)

Preventing teacher burnout

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Effective administrative and peer support are critical to the success of a new teacher. As a new teacher in a South LA Elementary School, I had a paid mentor. I was one of the 2 new teachers she was paid to mentor. After the October "norming," I was given a 4/5 split of (mostly under-acheiving)students that had been pulled from their classrooms during this reorganization. My mentor knew that I was drowning; I told her so! I went to her for help, but other than a sympathetic ear, I didn't receive any "mentoring". My room partner kept the door locked between our rooms, and the faculty and office staff turned a deaf ear.
That was 7 years ago. Surviving that trial-by-fire made me a better teacher, but I still feel guilt and regret for the 32 students in my classroom that year. Adults need to put their egos and preconceived notions aside, and work to be more effective educating the children we teach.

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