Teacher Recruitment and Retention: Hiring Strong Candidates and Providing a Beginning Teacher Experience that Enables Them to Stay
This quality improvement project focuses on the past practices of several schools and their district as a whole to gain insight on whether anything is missing in their induction programs. The research site in question is SIlverleaf Public Schools which includes 39 different schools and a magnet program housed within the largest school district in a capital city in New England to serve students from the capital city and its 45 surrounding towns. The problem of practice for this project is to identify reasons why beginning teachers are leaving SPS within their first three years of teaching and identify methods to support teachers in a way that allows them to develop in their profession, refine their practices, and establish a connection with the schools and district that will make them want to stay. This capstone project relies on qualitative data gathered through various means including observations of the beginning teacher induction sessions at the start of the year, focus groups consisting of beginning teachers and principals, and interviews with principals, beginning teachers, and teachers who have left their positions. My findings were as follows. First, the information provided in the beginning teacher induction was overwhelming and teachers reported that they did not benefit from learning all of it at once because it was challenging to fully understand the application of the information. Second, teachers shared that the sense of overwhelm and lack of “tinkering” time to explore the sites made it difficult to pay attention and understand how to use. Additionally, beginning teachers shared a feeling of disconnect from their school settings at the start of the year as there was limited time dedicated to learning their new schools, getting acclimated in their buildings, and setting up their classrooms. Another finding pertains to the relationship between mentor and mentee, and the need for the beginning teacher to connect with a person that the feel that they can ask questions and rely on. Finally, beginning teachers that conducted their student teaching internships with virtual and hybrid classes were unprepared to enter classrooms full of in person students at the start of the school year.