TC Launches the New Teacher Network to Support Early Career ... | Teachers College Columbia University

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TC Launches the New Teacher Network to Support Early Career Alumni

Early career teacher attrition continues to plague the nation’s schools. It is especially high in high-needs schools and urban areas, where new teachers are exiting the field in increasing numbers, citing as problems lack of administrative support, challenges of student discipline, and inadequate planning supports.

To expand and deepen its support of education students as they transition to the pre-K-12 classroom, Teachers College is piloting a unique professional development program. The New Teacher Network at TC, or NTN@TC, provides recent TC graduates with mentoring, practical resources and opportunities to collaborate with TC colleagues in the critical first three years of teaching. Hands-on workshops, online coaching, discussion forums, and access to resources are some of the many supports made available in this unique pilot program.

NTN@TC provides a “meaningful program of support for our graduates who have completed pre-service programs and are moving into their own classrooms as teachers for the first time,” says Ruth Vinz, Endowed Chair and Morse Professor of Teacher Education and Director of the Center for Professional Education of Teachers (CPET) at TC, creator of the program.

“The NTN pilot is a powerful demonstration of TC’s commitment to support graduates as they transition to the field. The project provides intensive, systematic mentoring in these crucial years, and an opportunity for us to better understand how our graduates will continue to learn and fine-tune their capacities and skills as teachers.”

In the spring of 2014, sixteen graduating master’s degree students were recruited from the Teaching of English and Teaching of Social Studies programs to pilot the program. These first-year teachers participated in customized workshops at the college, and online discussions that targeted specific concerns of new teachers: from setting up their classroom to designing curriculum and assessments and honing classroom management strategies that set students up for success. The workshops were led by TC doctoral students, themselves veteran teachers working as Fellows at CPET.

Recruitment for next year’s cohort began in early May with a series of events to help graduates begin planning and collaborating for the next school year. The first event, aptly named “NTN Connects,” brought administrators from schools around the City together with over 100 soon-to-graduate TC students in Everett Lounge, where small groups discussed various issues about first-year teaching. Additional events have included workshops focusing on preparing demonstration lessons for job interviews and panel presentations from early career teachers, who shared their insights into the opportunities and challenges of entering the field.

NTN@TC received a Provost’s Investment Grant from the College, a program through the Provost’s Office that seeds innovative cross-disciplinary and collaborative proposals submitted by faculty. NTN@TC members will have access to customized professional learning opportunities, in-person mentoring and coaching, as well as a dedicated online community with online mentoring.

After participating for three years, select teachers will shift into new roles of participation, mentoring first year teachers, becoming cooperating teachers in TC programs, and even come back to the College as Ed.M. and doctoral students. “Its creators at the Center for Professional Education of Teachers (CPET) at TC hope members will continue to take advantage of all that the College has to offer, long after they have graduated and begun their careers,” Vinz said.

The New Teacher Network at TC was created to help stem the rising tide of early career attrition in teaching. More than 40 percent of new public school teachers leave the profession before completing their first five years in the classroom. They are exiting in significantly higher numbers in high-needs schools and urban areas, citing as problems lack of administrative support, challenges of student discipline, and inadequate planning supports.

“We know that teachers who have various types of support systems in place stay in teaching at a much higher rate than those who lack key support resources,” Vinz said. “If we, as teacher educators, take seriously our role in preparing and sustaining quality teachers who, in turn, influence the quality of education in their schools and for their students, then it is not a luxury but a responsibility to provide continuous opportunities to grow and learn.”

The New Teacher Network at TC is currently accepting applications from graduating students in the Teaching of English, Teaching of Social Studies, Teaching of Science and Math Education programs. For further details, click here: NTN@TC Info & Application Link.

Published Monday, Jun. 22, 2015