Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Teaching Force Is Largely Newbs

In their article "The Greening of the American Teacher," Mercer Hall and Gina Sipley focus in one finding of a CPRE report on shifts in the American teaching workforce. That report is worth a look all by itself, but we'll save that for another day, because Hall and Sipley have some interesting insights to share.

The American teacher is now most probably a newb. There are several possible reasons for that trend-- Hall and Sipley blame, in part, the erosion of tenure. And in fact they've dug up some interesting research that shows some hugely interesting findings about private/charter school teachers:

        1) They report more job satisfaction than public school teachers
        2) They are more likely to quit than public school teachers
        3) One of the top reasons given for the departure is lack of job security

The effects of this greening are many.

One is increased instability of teaching staff. We know that almost half of all beginning teachers will leave within their first five years. That means a largely newb staff may face high turnover. And despite the reformster insistence that youthful enthusiasm is the key to teaching excellence, most researchers and human beings who live on this planet reach the opposite conclusion-- that it takes 5-15 years for a teacher to really master the job.

Of course, some of the side effects are attractive to reformsters, especially the lower costs for staff. But as Hall and Sipley note, "the current skewing of the teacher force toward a homogenized team of amateurs, however, undermines the undisputed benefits of skill and maturity."


  1. A good school should be made up of highly experienced teachers, teachers in mid-career, and young new teachers. Isn't that obvious? How did we end up with an administration that does not understand something so fundamental?

  2. My goodness! Teaching is a profession in which you get better with time, including the time it takes to get to know yourself after trying to fit yourself into the mold many teachers grow up in (the authoritarian mold). I was not raised this way, and I am not an authoritarian teacher either, but it's taken me many years of learning just how growing up in a Gestalt and Jungian run home actually helps me to become the best teacher I can be...this together with my strong "work ethic" from a Norwegian heritage, after 25 years of teaching I still love and am more excited by my career choice than ever before.