been involved with education for many years. What
changes have you witnessed in teacher preparation
I knew I wanted to be a teachers by the time I
reached the second grade. I had traditional teacher
training—several education classes and hours
of student-teaching before taking over a classroom.
Today, many teachers come into the system through
alternative certification programs that move candidates
into their own classrooms after just a brief period
of training. Although this can be a great way to
recruit great talent in to the school system, for
many teachers, it is their first time back in a classroom
since they were students. They haven’t learned
to swim, and we throw them into the deep end.
What challenges arise when
teachers lack training and experience?
Teachers can lose a lot of time reinventing the
wheel or using ineffective techniques. They can feel
overwhelmed, lost, and alone. Students need teachers
who have confidence—who not only know their
subject matter, but also have strong classroom management
have you employed to improve teacher retention rates?
Mentoring relationships are crucial and Teachers
Network has been enormously helpful in supporting
these relationships. There is an excellent overlap
between new teachers’ needs and the resources
the NTRP provides.
Could you describe how the
NTRP helps teachers?
It’s a life preserver. This program, created
by experienced teachers, is a great resource for
generating ideas for the classroom. The handbook,
video, and online courses show successful techniques
teachers can model, from classroom management to
How can the NTRP help alleviate
the stress that new teachers often feel?
One time I was talking with a new teacher in an
urban school. He thought he had all the answers to
how he would manage his class… in theory.
Then, one day, a fight broke out among some of his
students. After the students were gone and he was
alone, he broke down in tears. He was frustrated
that he did not prevent the fight and upset by the
students’ anger. His theories were insufficient—what
he needed was the benefit of experience.
Classroom management is
one of the biggest challenges for new teachers. This
teacher, because of his lack of experience, was less
confident and unprepared to deal with the situation.
I routinely hear from teachers how helpful the NTRP
materials are in giving practical advice on dealing
with these issues.
Is the NTRP program working?
It’s off to a strong start. The most important
factor in students’ education is the teacher
in front of them, so investing in teachers is investing
in children. For every teacher the NTRP supports,
hundreds of students benefit over time.