Teacher Attrition in the U.S.

Examines the reasons behind the high numbers of teachers who leave the profession within the first years of practice.

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Reports that as many as 30 percent of all new teachers leave teaching within their first three to five years in the profession, an indication that something is very wrong. This paper states that, if the U.S. is to have a school system it can be proud of, employing teachers who enjoy preparing students to live in the global economy, but not losing sight of the philosophical bases of teaching and life, a solution must be found. Some suggest the solution is mentoring. Several states, including Texas, have included mentoring programs in their efforts to deal with various forms of teacher stress and teacher preparedness. This paper looks at what the stresses on new teachers are perceived to be and which of those might lead to the high attrition rate. It also looks at the usefulness of mentoring, the two basic styles, formal and informal, as well as specific data regarding gender and cultural issues. Finally, it takes a look at the initiation and first few years of the Texas Beginning Educator Support System (TxBESS).
“A definition of mentoring offered by Whitaker contains within it the challenge for mentors. That definition calls for “A nurturing process in which a skilled or more experienced person, serving as a role model, teaches, sponsors, encourages, counsels, and befriends a less skilled or less experienced person for the purpose of promoting the latter’s professional and/or personal development. (2000) Brennan cited similar definitions from other sources. In short, it’s a hard job. Therefore, she concluded, mentors must be made aware of the importance of the mentor role. She reports that several researchers have found that if mentors are given substantial information regarding mentoring and some general guidelines as to form and content of mentoring that is expected, mentoring will be more effective than otherwise. On the other hand, studies also showed that it was counterproductive to overly formalize and oversee the mentoring relationship. (Whitaker, 2000)

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