The beginning of a new career for anyone can be scary and full of challenges. For a recent graduate entering the first year of teaching, the responsibility of educating a classroom of students for a year is both exhilarating and overwhelming. A new initiative at the School of Education called Tribe Teachers offers graduates support for the first three years of their career, a critical time when many make the decision to leave the profession.
“Our students create such strong connections with their classmates and professors at William & Mary, but the first year of teaching can be hard and sometimes they struggle once they’re on their own in a school,” said Denise Johnson, professor and associate dean of teacher education and community engagement. “Tribe Teachers is designed to be a bridge for our graduates, providing extra support when it’s most needed.”
Tribe Teachers benefit from professional development and support specifically designed to meet their needs as new teachers. Continued learning is offered through web-based modules developed and facilitated by W&M faculty, as well as webinars and virtual chats.
The program gives graduates a way to stay connected after they leave campus — both to school expertise and resources, as well as to one another. Through online and face-to-face interactions, new teachers have a network of support where they can share their own ideas and challenges.
“Peer connections have been proven to be such an influential resource,” said Johnson. “So we’re putting a structure in place that will help our graduates stay connected from graduation through their shared experiences of beginning a teaching career.”
This summer, Tribe Teachers has a full calendar of Twitter chats and webinars to help teachers prepare for the next year of teaching. These opportunities are not limited to W&M alumni and are open to any new teacher.
A growing teacher shortage across the nation has pushed many states to make it easier to become a teacher through the extension of temporary teaching licenses and alternate routes to certification. Once in the classroom, these teachers may not be adequately prepared to face the challenges that come during the first few years of teaching. Tribe Teachers aims to support all new teachers, retain them in the profession, and provide the best outcomes for students.
“To solve the teacher shortage, we need to get more new people into the profession, but we also have to focus on new teacher retention and support or we’ll never end the revolving door phenomenon,” said Johnson.
She already has ambitious plans to grow the initiative, expanding the support options to include a summer institute and individualized coaching by a university-based master teacher. An expansion of the program brings challenges including finding and funding a platform that would serve the needs of a growing support group. A recent grant from the DuPont Foundation was secured to begin a pilot program to provide university-based coaches and training for the mentor teachers paired with graduates in schools. Additional funding will be needed to extend these benefits to all graduates.
Tribe Teachers is a multifaceted approach designed to ensure that new teachers start their careers on the very best footing — and guide them toward a fulfilling career in education.
To find out more about upcoming Tribe Teacher events see the Events Calendar on our website.
To support new teachers as they follow their passion in education, please consider making a gift to Tribe Teachers.