There is a general feeling in our school this year that things are getting better. Aside from the night and day beginning of the year, the general mood is much more upbeat among the staff and students alike. It's almost as if the staff as a whole believes that we can really prepare our students for the future! Even the veterans are surprised at the change. There are certainly a lot of reasons for the change, but the fact that most of the staff stayed on board for this year was a major contributing factor to the improvement.
The only teachers that left the school were the ones that probably needed to move on. Because of this the experience of the staff grew tremendously and the awareness of what should happen and what can happen in our school became more solid before the beginning of the year. One of the mentors I had my first year told me very bluntly "The more we help you newbies the less likely you are to quit, which makes our lives and our students' lives easier in the long run." It's true- if the new guys don't cut and run it makes less work for everyone, which means the veterans can concentrate on teaching students rather than supporting a whole lot of new teachers.
When she said that I was shocked and offended. Even though I knew very well that half of all teachers quit in their first five years, I was taken aback by the statement. She was right though. Keeping first year teachers in the classroom is very important. The learning curve in the first year is enormous and if the staff is inexperienced one year, keeping everyone on board for the next means the experience of the staff increases dramatically.
We had a lot of new teachers (1-3 years in) last year. The staff's general level of panic was pretty high on some days (at least it was from my perspective) and the students could sense it. Although our students seem to be much more sane this year in general, many have calmed down from last year because they know the staff is better prepared and that there are fewer variables rolling around in the school.
Among other things, the increased experience of our staff is making teaching fun this year. I'll readily admit that it wasn't fun last year. The change is pretty nice.
Today's Wine: Green Tea- I'm still preparing for the urbanathlon, but I'll be back to wine by the next post.