Op-ed: For first-year teachers, it’s sink or swim

When students across the country go back to school this month, the vast majority will have an inexperienced rookie teacher. It’s startling but true. The teaching workforce is “greening” and the most common teacher this year is a beginner in the first year of teaching, a TakePart columnist reports. Despite the current focus on making sure all educators are effective, we are not setting up most new teachers to make a difference, and their students pay the price. I don’t know any successful businesses that would hire entry-level grads for the most difficult positions, isolate them from coworkers, and then expect them to perform as well as more experienced colleagues. But that’s exactly what we do with many new teachers who often receive the most challenging teaching assignments in the classrooms and schools whose students need the profession’s best teachers. Each fall, thousands of bright and energetic beginning teachers receive little more than a student roster and a classroom key. Many struggle, in isolation, planning ways to meet the profound and distinct needs of their students. They work long hours to put an unwieldy array of resources to use, or even to access these resources in the first place. Even the most promising new teachers, who learned a lot about effective teaching, can’t fathom how to put that learning into practice. They know their students deserve more. It’s a sink or swim experience….

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