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Research studies and the insights of accomplished teachers who have helped turn around struggling schools confirm that any effort to recruit and retain accomplished teachers for hard-to-staff schools must be part of a comprehensive plan -- not a separate or stand-alone strategy.
The foundational point that Berry makes in this article, stresses that the need for recruitment and retention principles that stress a better overall working environment is key to change. Recruiting highly skilled teachers that are board certified requires allowing these teachers the opportunity to see the best possible working environment for their skill set. Berry also makes list of several key ingredients in a multi-faceted solution. The second set of talking points, dictated by Barry, include the remaining five, what quality teachers need in their work environment to stay in challenging schools and help them turn around:
Board-certified teachers need administrators who know and embrace the NBPTS process and cultivate teacher leadership.
Board-certified teachers need smaller "case loads" so they can get to know their students and their families well and have time to work with colleagues.
Board-certified teachers will need to have additional preparation in the area of leadership if they are expected to promote school change.
Board-certified teachers and other teachers already teaching in the school will need professional development in collaboration, team building, and cultural competence.
Board-certified teachers need opportunities to use the NBPTS process to drive new models of professional development and to be more involved in the preparation of the next generation of teachers.
Using these talking points the idea that the established system is lacking, is obvious as it would seem that the classrooms that need these people and the schools that they are in are not getting them to come or at least come and stay. Solutions that solve the real nature of the "shortage" can be found within Barry's model.
An aspect of change that is probably most likely to be resisted by schools and districts, is the association with empowerment. What exactly does empowerment mean with regard to teachers? It means giving quality teachers not only a voice in curriculum and school wide decision making but allowing that voice to actually illicit change in areas where they see the need of it. The traditional school and school district has been dictated by a top down policy that gives teachers a rote set of goals and does not allow them to drastically deviate from them. The fear has been that changing curriculum, timing, instructional directions, would create inconsistencies in outcomes and would also take the power away from district administrators and boards.
Teachers are traditionally not given much decision-making power. The educational research and administration communities once tried to provide teachers with "fool-proof," prepackaged curricula, as if teachers' thinking and decision making are not related to improving teaching quality. The data from this study clearly indicate that teachers who feel that they have influence over school and teaching policies are more likely to stay. To empower teachers is one of the ways to improve teacher retention.
Denying teachers the right to alter things as simple as classroom layout, no to mention curriculum, has created a system that first trains individuals to seek excellence through innovative thought (a concept imparted by their own training) and then figuratively ties their hands behind their backs, making it so they can change and influence nothing. In a beginning teacher situation the result is rather rapid disillusionment and attrition and this may also be the case when a "weak principle" takes the place of one who has traditionally supported teachers in innovation and choice. There is also a good chance that such issues will get worse, rather than better in the next few years as teachers find it increasingly difficult to live under the new dictates of the accountability model of education.
Another early suggestion in this work was the development of "grow your own" programs where difficult to staff districts support quality teacher recruitment and retention in local teacher training systems by allowing teachers the opportunity to seek continuing education through group interactions.
Based on our findings, we see great promise in what we have termed grow-your-own approaches -- a model of professional development that is flexible enough to be responsive to a wide range of educator needs and site-specific issues. With the grow-your-own approach, teachers from different schools come together to participate in university-sponsored professional development (e.g., inquiry group facilitation workshops) and then afterward, return to their respective schools to establish teacher-led professional development "spores" (e.g., inquiry groups) that it is hoped become self-sufficient activities of their own...The grow-your-own approach offers a number of benefits to the university and to graduates. For the university, it supports a "tipping point," or "critical mass" approach to change.
Anderson, and Olsen 359)
The single most important issue with regard to teacher empowerment is the allowance of teachers to build their own systems and then change them as their skill and student body changes. Allowing quality teachers to make decisions and build quality classrooms makes them capable of creative processes that will, without a doubt increase retention as well as student outcomes. Teacher empowerment is essential to change and cannot occur without a system wide transformation in the manner in which teachers are viewed by districts and communities.
Validation for the allowance of personal control will likely also change the manner in which students see their teachers and possibly how they respond to them. A powerless individual cannot be a leader of quality students as students will quickly see that the individual is a figurehead and has no real ability to change the situation, for the better o for the worse. As we have seen from so many exceptional social examples those teachers who have the power to challenge the system in which they work are much more likely to be inspiring than those who maintain the status quo at all cost. The system as it is does not feed change or value quality teachers and those who are recruited and then sadly disappointed by the reality of going to work every day feeling isolated and out on a limb rather than feeling inspired to teach and learn will likely continue to feed the reversed imbalance between the surplus of quality teachers and the real surplus of positions. To make the two come together the system must make the positions as high quality as the teachers they wish to fill them.
Anderson, Lauren, and Brad Olsen. "Investigating Early Career Urban Teachers' Perspectives on and Experiences in Professional Development." Journal of Teacher Education 57.4 (2006): 359.
Berry, Barnett. "Recruiting and Retaining Board-Certified Teachers for Hard-to-Staff Schools." Phi Delta Kappan 87.4 (2005): 290.
Blanton, Linda P., Paul T. Sindelar, and Vivian I. Correa. "Models and Measures of Beginning Teacher Quality." Journal of Special Education 40.2 (2006): 115..
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Replacing Schools Could Cost $170 Million." Sarasota Herald Tribune 21 Aug. 2004: A1.
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