Difficult first year highlights need for support for new teachers
May 29 2003
May 29, 2003 (Toronto) Newly hired Ontario teachers don’t get the
support they need to start their careers properly and many are at risk of leaving
teaching altogether, says a new Ontario College of Teachers study.
"New teachers are incredibly passionate about helping young people learn
and yet we make their critical first few years the most difficult," says
College Registrar Doug Wilson. "They're hired late, shifted around and
given the toughest assignments, often with little or no support. If they're
to become better teachers faster and improve student learning, they need help
The College's Transition to Teaching study of first and second year teachers
- more than half of new teachers are hired after school starts in September
- one in five are asked to teach subjects they haven’t been trained to teach,
- almost one in five is at risk of leaving teaching altogether early in their
Even though they don’t get the material or mentoring help they need, they
appear resolute about wanting to help students succeed.
"I'm sure that parents would find it as heartwarming as I did reading
the comments of new teachers," says College Chair Marilyn Laframboise. "Their
commitment to improving the lives of their students through learning is both
touching and inspiring."
New teachers report high levels of stress. They feel their jobs are insecure.
They find the hiring process awkward and difficult. They often have to patch
partial assignments together to create full-time jobs. And they are given some
of the toughest teaching assignments, some for which they are not specifically
"Getting a teaching job in Ontario can be a bewildering and chaotic experience," says
Frank McIntyre, the study's author. "There are plenty of jobs out there,
but we have to make it easier for teachers to get them and do them if we want
to keep them."
The College is tracking teacher education graduates over five years to discover:
- how many are hired and what kinds of teaching positions they find
- the rate at which new teachers leave the profession and why
- whether their experience at the faculties of education has prepared them
- what kinds of supports they need, and
- how school boards can retain them.
"New teachers lack orientation programs, mentoring and classroom resources," the
study says. "Survival becomes their top priority."
Novice teachers value their practice teaching experiences, but want more on-the-job
help learning how to manage their classrooms, evaluate student work, plan lessons,
and communicate with parents, the College study says. They identify mentoring
as a priority and want greater help, advice and time from experienced teachers.
Ontario needs to hire between 9,000 and 10,000 teachers a year for the next
seven years to replace those who are retiring and leaving. However, the College
says that the response to the survey indicates that 18 per cent of second year
teachers are at risk of leaving the profession altogether.
to Teaching (199
- 96 per cent of graduates get teaching jobs and 80 per cent are in regular
positions by the end of their second year
- 86 per cent of first year teachers say that making a difference in people's
lives is a very important reason for entering and staying in teaching
- per cent of new teachers in elementary schools teach in combined grade
classrooms and another 20 per cent have a special assignment such as special
education or French as a Second Language - many without the specialized
- 20 per cent of secondary school teachers have five or more different courses
to prepare in their first year
- 12 per cent changed jobs within the first year, 52 per cent changed jobs
between first and second year, 37 per cent expected another change before
their third year.
In answer to the problem, the College has developed a white
paper on teacher induction that recommends a mandatory two-year support
program for new teachers in every Ontario school board. The College is consulting
with teachers and education stakeholders across Ontario to gather feedback.
"New teachers are crying out for support," says Wilson. "We
have an historic opportunity to influence teaching practice and student success
in the next 30 years by acting now."
This is the second year of the five-year Transition to Teaching study. Funded
in part by the Ontario Ministry of Education, the study is designed to find
information that government, school boards, universities and the College can
use to develop policies and programs to retain them.
The College mailed surveys to 6,223 first and second-year teachers. Precisely
27.5 per cent responded, making the results accurate within 3.5 percentage
points, 19 times out of 20. Almost all included comments about their experiences.
For more information:
416-961-8800 ext. 255
Toll-free 1-888-534-2222, ext. 255