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More support for Early Career Teachers

Mentoring

Teaching is a very demanding role with high rates of stress and burnout – especially among those new to the profession.

Research shows that as many as one in three early career teachers leave the profession in their first five years of service. Therefore, it is vital our new educators receive the support they need early in their careers to equip them to deal with the multitude of challenges they will face. 

Mentoring by experienced educators is highly rated among early career teachers and is essential to recruitment and retention. 

The advice, emotional support, and practical assistance mentors provide helps equip new teachers with resilience and opportunities to improve the quality of education they deliver to students. 

A quality mentoring program must provide schools with additional resources to enable experienced teachers to have time off from their normal duties to provide support to the new educators. 

Time to be Better

Early career teachers juggle a multitude of new and stressful challenges when they begin including classroom management, curriculum, resource preparation, school operations, planning, administration and relations with families and carers. 

It is essential that new educators be given the time to seek support from experienced teachers to develop their skills and troubleshoot any problems they may be having. 

The Beginning Teacher Time Release (BeTTR) program provides two hours per week away from the classroom for teachers in their first year, and one hour per week for those in their second year, to access support and professional development. 

They may choose to use the time to hone their skills through activities such as feedback meetings with senior staff, observing experienced teachers in the classroom, and participating in formal induction and training courses. 

Given the importance of new educators continuing to develop their skills and the increasing complexity of teaching, this BeTTR program needs to be extended to teachers in their third year. 

Unmanageable workloads for teachers, starting right at the beginning of their careers, force many into part-time work to cope and these teachers must also have access to quality mentoring. 

Additional support for new teachers not only helps prevent burnout but sets them on the path to becoming more effective educators, and intensive mentoring can have a significant effect on student achievement after as little as two years.

I have been teaching for about five years now and it’s a really rewarding career. My greatest enjoyment comes from seeing a student get excited about learning. It’s so rewarding when they have that breakthrough moment and because of your perseverance and encouragement they achieve something that they may not have even expected for themselves.

I’ve been really lucky in my career in that I’ve had great support and amazing mentors and that is so important when you’re starting out as a teacher because everything is new and you’re starting everything from scratch.

I’d say the biggest challenges for new teachers are planning and behaviour management. You haven’t taught classes before so you don’t have banks of resources and lesson plans that you can draw on and you’ve never done things like individual learning plans, report writing, yearly planning or risk assessments.

Behaviour management is another skill that you have to get down pat early on or otherwise you’ll struggle. From the outside people may think teaching is easy but they don’t realise the diversity of personalities and behaviours that you can have in the one classroom.

Quality mentoring for early career teachers is absolutely pivotal because it’s very easy to become overwhelmed and we see a lot of young teachers leaving the profession in the first five years of their career. New educators in their first two years of service do have some time reserved, called “time release”, to enable them to attend things like meetings with their mentors. But early career teachers are in a brand-new job in a new profession and learning doesn’t stop two-years in so time dedicated for their professional development and support must be extended to at least their third year.

I have always been proactive in seeking support from experienced educators, but I used to feel a little bit guilty because all teachers are extremely time poor, and I knew I was taking time away from my mentor. It’s so important that we have quality mentoring programs and that schools are staffed to enable the mentors themselves to have the time they need to support early career teachers.

Lifting Learning

Extend the dedicated time for new teachers to receive feedback and support to those in their third year of teaching. Additional school resources to give experienced teachers the time and capacity to undertake quality mentoring of new educators.