According to national statistics, almost half of all new teachers leave the profession within the first five years of their career. Choosing to address this issue early and actively, the University of Houston-Victoria and the Victoria Independent School District are partnering together to increase retention of local teachers.
Designed to provide intensive professional support in the first year of teaching, the program will build upon VISD’s orientation for new teachers. Follow-up meetings with faculty mentors will be combined with seminars at UHV to address the challenges faced by first-year teachers as problem-solving opportunities.
“As with any job, a solid foundation early on can make a lot of difference in a person’s overall professional experience,” said Dr. Diane Prince, a UHV professor who has worked with VISD to develop the partnership. “These seminars will be uniquely shaped by the teachers’ experiences in the classroom and their professional concerns.”
Teachers who participate will receive credit for graduate study they can apply towards completing a master’s degree. Studies have shown continuing education and professional support can positively influence how many years a teacher stays in the classroom.
“The first years of a teaching career can be intimidating. Student teaching is a wonderful preparatory experience, but when the new teacher is charged with the responsibility of educating students, it can be stressful and, at times, overwhelming,” said Dr. Susanne Carroll, executive director for research and development at VISD. “The UHV program in collaboration with the VISD teacher orientation and mentoring process will go a long way in helping these first-year teachers overcome some of their stressors, enhance classroom management skills, and grow in their love of teaching. And, there is an added benefit of being able to earn credit toward an advanced degree.”
The added program benefit of encouraging new teachers to begin their graduate studies early can have a positive impact on the quality of their students’ education as well. The number of teachers seeking higher degrees is often used as a gauge in evaluating the merits of a school district.
Both UHV and VISD hope the program’s success will serve as a model for the rural districts in the Victoria region that might also develop similar orientations. For more information on the partnership, contact Debi Biner in the School of Education at (361) 570-4226.