By Susan Thompson
As the new school year begins, principals and school districts are looking at ways to provide support to the new teachers that were hired over the summer. The key to a school’s success is not only selecting an outstanding team of educators to lead school improvement efforts, but also, the ability to develop, grow, and retain outstanding educators from year to year. With this in mind, one Learning Forward Foundation Academy Scholarship recipient, Katoria Gaston is focused on answering the question, “What impact does a new teacher and mentoring framework have on teacher retention?”
Gaston is an instructional coach at Gwinnett County Public Schools in Suwanee, Georgia. Gwinnett County Public Schools, located in the metro Atlanta area, is the largest school system in Georgia with 140 schools and approximately 180,000 students. Fifty-five schools have volunteered to participate in an induction/mentor program with a strong focus on professional learning.
Through the Learning Forward Academy experience, Gaston anticipates collaborating with the Academy coaches and networking with the other professional learning leaders within her group to support and provide feedback as she develops an induction/mentor framework. The framework will serve as a roadmap outlining the balance of structure and flexibility to ensure consistency and local building autonomy.
A key element of the framework is the utilization of a feedback loop that is an integral component of each professional learning session to clarify what learning is being implemented and to analyze the impact of the implementation, in terms of changes in teacher practice and student learning. A tiered support structure includes trained mentors, lead teachers and district leaders, who provide support to teachers as they hone their craft, fostering continuous professional learning opportunities embedded within the work day.
As many communities are experiencing teacher shortages, the Learning Forward Foundation looks forward to further supporting Gaston as she embarks on examining the impact that a multi-tiered mentor/induction framework will have on retaining high quality teachers across Gwinnett County.