To print: Select File and then Print from your browser's menu
This article was printed from Teachers.Net Gazette,
located at https://teachers.net.
Y Teachers for Maximum Effectiveness
Districts are gearing up to recruit more teachers to
same positions vacated by teachers recruited the previous year. Here’s why.
OMG. Here they come. Generation Y.
Born from 1977 to 1986, Generation Y, or the Millennials, is a potential force
of as many as 40 million. The first wave of Gen Ys is just now embarking
on their careers as classroom teachers.
They are products of a global economy, a connected, collaborative environment
in which technology has allowed them to network. They are knowledge workers
with ubiquitous access to powerful laptops and the know how to utilize 21st
century technology and digital resources.
They are socially adept at working in groups or teams and are avid users of
online social networking, such as MySpace and FaceBook. A learning
community is their forte, thus to work collaboratively in a group is second
nature to them.
The report of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future,
“Induction into Learning Communities,” states that the development
of effective teachers requires an approach that is different in scope and design
from much of what currently passes for induction in this country: one-to-one
mentoring of a novice teacher. Unless we move beyond the traditional one-to-one
mentoring model, we will continue to reinforce the industrial-era practice of
stand-alone teaching in isolated classrooms.
The new crop of teachers are tech-savvy and poised to be lifelong learners.
If inquiry means deep thinking, then the Gen Ys can already run circles around
us veteran educators when it comes to collecting data, finding resources, thinking
deeply, problem-solving, reflecting, and inquiring.
They are the most socially conscious generation since the Boomers.
Gen Ys are out in force working for social causes ranging from volunteering
in international areas of poverty to teaching in urban schools through such
organizations as Teach for America.
They exude confidence and informality; they have high expectations and are
The Generation Y can be described in four positive ways:
1. A generation that is confident, self-sufficient, and achievement-oriented
2. A generation that is the most education-minded in history
3. A generation paving the way to a more open, tolerant society
4. A socially conscious generation leading a new wave of volunteerism
Gen Ys Learn Best by Collaboration
The Gen Ys are output oriented, success-oriented, achievement-oriented,
and thus student achievement oriented. Gen Ys live in a global
society where everyone is on the same, level playing field sharing information
and solutions to produce outcomes. They are devoted to helping their students
learn more because they are oriented to producing outcomes. We can nurture
that skill by allowing them to produce results in groups.
Typically schools expect teachers to be creative and do a good job behind closed
doors. Collaboration is rare. Worse yet, new teachers seldom see
another classroom. Loneliness and lack of support further exacerbate the
problems of beginning teachers.
Susan Moore Johnson of the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers at the
Harvard Graduate School of Education says, “Our work suggests that schools
would do better to rely less on one-on-one mentoring and, instead, develop school-wide
structures that promote the frequent exchange of information and ideas among
novice and veteran teachers.”
Surround Gen Y teachers with a community of creative thinkers and the solutions
will abound everywhere. They are great team players.
Professionals do not work alone; they work in teams.
When teachers meet in teams to focus on a problem, they become part of a team
that will work with students who need their help.
“Teachers should be in teams, working collaboratively around problems
identified in their schools that are related to students,” says Kathleen
Fulton, director of Reinventing Schools for the 21st Century for the National
Commission on Teaching and America’s Future.
Collaboration is the most effective way for teachers to learn.
Professional development is most effective and teachers learn more in sustained
teacher networks and study groups than with individual mentors.
Everyone knows that businesses train workers in teams with specific outcomes
in mind. Schools will see improved student learning if they harness the
collective intelligence, creativity, and genius of their teachers in consistent
teams. It will become easier to do because this is the way of life for
the Y Generation of teachers.
Gen Ys Are Our Future Leaders
By channeling their talent for working together we will see improved student
learning. Education is a collaborative endeavor. No one individual
has all the answers. We depend on each other for the creative
solutions to our problems and the collective inspiration to design lessons that
will improve student learning.
Millennials like structure and will want schools to give them clear rules and
procedures to follow. They need to clearly see the value of their work.
They want their work to be relevant, have impact, and offer them a diversity
This next generation of teachers is the most intelligent, talented,
competitive (and compulsive) group this country has seen. It’s
a Renaissance generation with much potential if we put the future in their care.
They are more interesting, more confident, less hidebound and uptight, better
educated, more creative, and even unafraid. The grandeur of the future
is in their capable hands.
Do You Recognize Yourself?
If you see yourself in the previous paragraphs, you should be energized with
the potential for yourself and your students. However, you need to be
in an environment where you can put your talents and strengths to use.
If you are a Generation Y teacher and you are looking for a job, here is a question
to ask at the interview:
“Does this district or school have an induction or training
where I can work with other teachers in a learning community?”
Consider these two statements found in the literature:
“We will need 2 million new teachers in the next decade.”
“Fifty percent of beginning teachers will leave teaching after five
These two sentences have appeared regularly over the past 30 years, yet writers
make these statements as if they are brand new. The tragedy is the solution
for the past 30 years has always been the same: give the beginning teachers
Knowing how Gen Y teachers work and learn best:
Will you be ushered into our profession by giving you a classroom to teach
Will you be given a one-to-one mentor to be seen on occasions and then ushered
into an isolated classroom after a year of mentoring?
If so, we know that the potential is great that we will lose you. And
we will just recruit more teachers for the same positions over and over again.
If we continue to give you a mentor only, the same two sentences will be used
for the next thirty years. It will be the students who will suffer from
the lack of teacher improvement, because mentoring may improve teacher retention,
but there is no substantial research which shows that mentoring improves teacher
The millions of dollars spent on mentoring programs would be better
spent on team-based induction allowing a new teacher to smoothly acculturate
into existing teams of teachers.
Just think of the impact on student achievement if you, as a beginning teacher,
had access to a coach, school-based staff developer, instructional specialist,
program facilitator, curriculum developer, and most importantly,
an administrator, all as part of your collegial team?
Training Programs that Work Together
Gen Y teachers want to be involved in a collaborative way.
Induction programs provide that connection, because they are structured around
a learning community where new and veteran teachers treat each other with respect
and all contributions are valued. To ask a Gen Y teacher to go solo in
a networked world is writing that teacher’s epitaph.
Knowing this, the Islip Public Schools on Long Island, New York, has a comprehensive
induction program that features collaborative study group activities and networking.
This is not a mentoring program. The three-year induction program is under
the leadership of assistant superintendent, Linda Lippmann.
At Islip, study teams focus on skill-building strategies such as conducting
parent conferences, managing classrooms, crafting lesson plans, and implementing
cooperative discipline. The groups constantly work on team building and
problem solving techniques. They use model lessons and hold sharing sessions
in which teachers learn from each other and build respect for one another.
Teacher turnover is negligible and new teachers are immediately ushered
into a team-like culture.
In the ten year existence of the Islip induction program, evidence of the success
of their collaborative work can be seen in the data. The year the induction
program began, 34 percent of their students earned a New York State Regent’s
diploma. At the end of the 2005-2006 school year, the figure had risen to 97
percent. That’s correct—97 percent!
To read more about the comprehensive induction program of the Islip Public
Schools and the reaction of Mike Mitchell, Spanish teacher, to new teacher induction,
go to www.NewTeacher.com/pdf/NYSAFLT_Journal.pdf.
Know what a good induction program looks like so you will recognize the characteristics
as you discuss your future employment with school districts and principals.
Two More Models to Review
Here are two outstanding comprehensive induction programs that warrant
your attention and modeling.
Flowing Wells School District. This mother-of-all induction
programs has been in existence for over 20 years. Located in Tucson, Arizona,
this school district has produced more state teachers-of-the-year than any other
Arizona school district. This fact can be attributed to how well they
train their teachers to become expert teachers.
To see their eight-year staff development program that takes a novice teacher
to become an expert teacher, click here.
To read about the Flowing Wells comprehensive induction program, click here.
Lafourche Parish Schools. This school district’s
induction program is so successful that the state of Louisiana adopted it for
its state model. The director of this program, Annette Breaux, co-authored
New Teacher Induction: How to Train, Support, and Retain new
Teachers. Click here
to see this book.
To read about the Lafourche new teacher induction program, click here.
To read the about Louisiana FIRST, the state professional development program
for new teachers, click here.
Mentoring Is Not Enough
Everyone in the world outside of schools trains their workers and has them
working in teams. Fast food restaurants, convenience stores, giant mega
stores, legal firms, hospitals, and even non-profit organizations train their
workers to a set of skills and standards. Yet, Ted Britton at WestEd reports
that in many schools one-on-one mentoring is the dominant or sole strategy for
supporting new teachers, often lacking real structure.
Much of mentoring involves responding to a new teacher’s day-to-day crises
and provide survival teaching tips. Mentoring, in and of itself, has no
purpose, goal, or agenda for student achievement. Thus, there
is no evidence of the connection between mentoring and student learning.
To see current research on mentoring and induction, click here.
To maximize student performance, all beginning teachers must learn to
teach to established standards,
evaluate the effects of their instruction on student performance,
use student achievement data for planning and curriculum,
tailor instruction to address specific learning needs, and
learn how to thrive in the culture of the school.
This kind of learning can only happen in an
induction process that is comprehensive.
Mike Schmoker reports that “research has not been found that supports
the systematic formation of effective teachers solely through the use of mentors,
especially mentors who show up after school begins and may not have been trained,
compensated, or given direction or goals to attain.”
Whereas, induction is a comprehensive, multi-year process designed
to train and acculturate new teachers in the academic standards and vision of
New teachers want to see other teachers teach in their classrooms and they
want other teachers to come to their classrooms to see and advise them on their
teaching. They want to be part of the learning community of the school.
People crave connection. Mentoring, which is a one-on-one
relationship, continues the practice of teachers operating in isolation.
What keeps good teachers are structured, sustained, intensive professional
development programs that allow new teachers to observe others, to be observed
by others, and to be part of networks, learning communities, or grade level/subject
matter teams where all teachers share together, grow together, and learn to
respect each other's work.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is obvious. Trained teachers become effective
teachers and effective teachers are the difference. Districts
that provide structured, sustained induction training for their teachers achieve
what every school district seeks to achieve—improved student learning.
Be the Difference Y Gens!
To the Y Generation of teachers in or just entering the profession—We’re
stoked that you are here! You have the 411 to be the force to change
the way teachers are ushered into this calling. Your success in the
classroom will determine the success for an entire generation of students.
Start your own group of colleagues sharing and growing together if the school
or district doesn’t present you with the opportunity. You know how
to naturally connect 24/7. Wire yourself to like learners who have the
same passion and enthusiasm for children as you do.
Your mission and challenge is to get students to be successful. That
comes with increasing your skill and effectiveness. It’s a very
simple equation, but one so hard to implement.
Teacher Effectiveness = Student Achievement
You will not realize this in isolation. Share with us the unique ways
that you are using your peer-to-peer network to improve the quality of your
teaching. You can help others find a means to release themselves from
the seclusion of the classroom and link with each other to grow and flourish
You can use your innate characteristics to become the greatest generation
of teachers ever to enter the profession. We are excited by your
potential and eagerly await the results of your future.