Survival Strategies For Beginning Teachers

Survival strategies for beginning teachers


In a 2003 study of Missouri’s teacher recruitment and retention program, State Auditor Claire McCaskill found that almost half of today’s beginning teachers drop out of the profession by the end of their fifth year. Missouri Teacher of the Year Tara Sparks offers the following advice on how to stay excited about the teaching profession whether you’ve been teaching for two or 20 years.

Be efficient. Of course, teachers need to align their classroom activities with clear goals and objectives, but it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel. I steal ideas from other teachers all the time and integrate their creativity into my classroom. I think one of the biggest challenges in education is the need to keep students interested and focused. If colleagues have great ideas, borrow them and make them work for you.

Advocate for a respectful teaching and learning environment. One of the biggest problems in education today is that teachers often don’t feel respected as professionals. Teachers commit themselves to lifelong learning with advanced education and need to feel autonomy in the classroom. Despite the increased emphasis on state standards, teachers can still feel a sense of control by aligning individual instructional practice to those goals. However, some districts regiment what occurs in every classroom throughout the district. Personally, that constraint would frustrate me. Teacher motivation, like student motivation, requires a sense of empowerment. This includes appropriate time for planning and administrative support.

Keep learning. We go to professional development, spend an hour there, walk away and wish we had time to implement what we learned. You have to use what you learn to keep teaching interesting. For example, my students are doing Web sites. So this year we are adding a little twist by making an online portfolio. Now, I’m excited again because I’m doing something new with them.


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