Psychologists are leading efforts to give teachers more
control in an increasingly difficult line of work.
BY TORI DEANGELIS
Teachers are blamed for many of our schools’ ills, but data suggest they’re just as unhappy with the conditions they face as their critics are.
in the American Educational Research Journal (Vol. 41, No. 3),
for instance, found that new teachers who took part in support
or “induction” programs were much more likely to stay for a
second year than those who didn’t participate in such programs.
Likewise, a review of 15 studies on these programs by Ingersoll
and Michael Strong, PhD, of the University of California, Santa
Cruz, in the June Review of Education Research (Vol. 81, No.
2) found that most studies demonstrate positive effects of the
programs on teacher commitment and retention, classroom
instructional practices and student achievement.
Support for teachers is important because once they hit the
classroom, they often feel lonely and isolated, adds psychologist
Isaac Prilleltensky, PhD, dean of education at the University of
Miami. In addition, teachers often lack the practical resources
and knowledge needed to run a successful classroom, he says.
“Teachers need the same kind of support that doctors receive
who are doing their residency training under supervision,”
Prilleltensky says. “And they usually don’t get it.”
One source of such support is the University of Miami’s
Support Network for Novice Teachers, run by Prilleltensky,
which provides professional development and mentoring.
Since the program began in 2001, only one of the 600 novice
teachers who have participated left teaching within three
years. Participants can spend up to three years in the program,
depending on their interest, time and need.