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May 14, 2024

5 Supports for Recruiting New Teachers to Your School

As the interview came to a conclusion, the aspiring teacher candidate asked the principal interviewing them, “What supports are in place for new teachers at your school building?” The school leader smiled as she proudly reached for the five-point staff value proposition constructed by the School Leadership Team the previous year. This value proposition wasn’t just a static document used to woo prospective teachers. The School Leadership Team constructed this value proposition and intentionally placed these elements into the systems and structures of the school onboarding and induction experience for their new teachers. Each staff member in the school building was familiar with the five elements of the plan and their roles/responsibilities in supporting new teachers in their school.

Carefully and collaboratively crafting systems and structures to ensure new teachers are met where they are, as they are is an essential element to connect the recruitment of new teachers with their sustained retention and success. I offer you five considerations and supports to consider when constructing systems and structures to support the newest teachers on your team.

Support #1: Recruitment and retention begins the moment you meet and subsequently offer a new teacher a job in your school

Oftentimes, new teacher onboarding and induction experiences start during a district or school new teacher induction week. I challenge you to think about making the supports visible and actionable earlier. When a new teacher is hired in April or May, connect them with a mentor immediately, provide them a tour of the school, and start including them in school communications to feel part of the team.

As a part of my work leading the new teacher induction program in my school district, we crafted a welcome survey to learn of the new teacher’s interests, preferences, and communication styles to optimize mentor/mentee pairings. In addition, we plan monthly email communications to ensure new teachers feel a connection leading up to the start of the school year.

Support #2: Create a clearly defined circle and system of support for each new hire.

Ensuring support for new teachers cannot be left to chance. There will certainly be teachers, specialists, and coaches in your school building who are naturally invested in ensuring a smooth transition and welcome into the school community for new teachers. Aligning and defining support systems requires bringing the school team together to determine who is responsible for what and when. Collaboratively lead your school team to create a document with names/photos of staff members, what they do, where they’re located, and how they might contribute to the success of a new teacher. Provide this to the new teachers upon hire and intentionally create opportunities for new teachers to strategically meet these supports over the course of their first year. 

We created circle templates during our new teacher induction week and intentionally worked to incorporate the addition of staff and how they support during the different sessions our new teachers attended throughout the week. This provided the new teachers with an opportunity to put a name, face, and role together for times when they might need specific support throughout the year.

Support #3: Mobilize your community to support the transition of new teachers to your community.

Moving to a new community and starting your first teaching job can be expensive. Tap into the PTO/PTA and community business partnerships to ensure new teachers are supported and have what they need to survive and thrive. You might consider asking the local Food Bank to sponsor grocery boxes for the first month of the transition or have businesses adopt a teacher to help them with startup costs associated with moving to a new area and starting a new classroom. Creatively mobilizing community resources can make a world of difference as you strive to meet the psychological and safety needs of your new teachers.

Each summer, we work with our regional food bank to volunteer with the packing of food boxes followed by the distribution of the boxes during our new teacher induction week. The partnerships we leverage with our regional partners enhances the support system we create for our new teachers and mobilizes the entire community around its investment in a new teacher.

Support #4: Create a consistent, research-driven, asset-based mentoring support program.

Mentors have a significant and positive impact on a new teacher’s sense of belonging, competence, and success. Intentionally work to recruit, prepare, and pair mentors while considering roles, proximity in the building to one another, personality traits, and schedule preferences/availability. Consider creating a Google Form asking questions about communication preferences, favorite times to meet, etc. before pairing mentors and mentees. In addition, work to craft a skilled mentoring framework guiding weekly mentor/mentee interactions. Although a new teacher should have clarified support networks beyond solely their mentor, it is vital the mentor/mentee relationship is mutually beneficial and intentionally structured to ensure consistent support. 

At the end of each school year, we provide a Google Form questionnaire to prospective and returning mentors to ensure we match our new teachers with someone who shares similar communication styles, meeting time preferences, and more. In addition, we’ve focused increased resources around the professional learning of our mentors to ensure we have a consistent mentoring experience for each new teacher we welcome into our district.

Support #5: Create, plan, and schedule ways for new teachers to provide school leaders with questions, feedback, and suggestions.

Consider scheduling monthly or quarterly pulse check surveys or short stand-up meetings to provide an open forum for new teachers to let you know what is going well, what they need more support with, and what additions would make their first year better. After gathering feedback, let the new teachers know what you’re doing with each suggestion or question. Feeling seen and heard is paramount in building trust and ensuring new teachers feel their voice matters.

During my first year serving our new teacher induction program, we formed a new teacher focus group composed of teachers who were entering the classroom from all different training and pathway training modes. We met one time per month with the goal to learn about the new teacher experience through the eyes of our new teachers. In addition to providing a platform to listen, we acted on the feedback we were provided to improve our new teacher induction experience. 

Recruitment and retention are inextricably linked. Retention begins the day you first meet a new teacher candidate. Collaboratively crafting systems and structures of support creates clarity for all staff and leads to sustained teacher retention, happiness, and success.

About the Author

Dan Reichard is the Assistant Director for Professional Learning with Stafford County Public Schools in Stafford, Virginia. In 2018, he was honored as the Kate Waller Barrett Teacher of the Year, Stafford County Public Schools (SCPS) Teacher of the Year, and Washington Post Teacher of the Year. His excellence extended further in 2019, earning him the title of Virginia Region 3 Teacher of the Year and in 2023, he was recognized by ASCD as an emerging leader.

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