The Virginia Department of Education and James Madison University’s College of Education are launching a program to provide support, coaching and professional development to first- and second-year teachers.
The Virginia New Teacher Support Program will match first- and second-year teachers with an instructional coach who will provide coaching on professional knowledge, instructional planning, instructional delivery, student assessment and professionalism. Participating teachers also will have access to a menu of live online professional development sessions.
“Comprehensive induction programs increase teacher retention and effectiveness, and are especially critical now for first-year teachers whose student-teaching experience was cut short by closure of schools in March because of COVID-19.” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said. “The Virginia New Teacher Support Program will play a key role in supporting these new educators and their students as they return to school in August and September.”
In 2017, the Virginia Advisory Committee on Teacher Shortages recommended strengthening new-teacher induction programs as a means of increasing retention and classroom effectiveness of new and early-career teachers. The committee identified professional development and mentoring as critical supports for novice teachers, especially in the areas of planning, classroom management, differentiated instruction and student assessment
“Providing classroom teachers with instructional coaching, mentoring and targeted professional learning during these early years significantly increases the likelihood that these early-career teachers will stay in the profession and increase their effectiveness,” JMU College of Education Executive Director of Teaching and Learning John Almarode said.
During the 2020-2021 school year, the Virginia New Teacher Support Program will provide mentoring and professional development to 500 teachers, including 250 through an existing partnership between JMU, Virginia State University and five pilot divisions (Augusta County, Harrisonburg, Petersburg, Portsmouth and Rockingham County). An additional 250 teachers will be selected from other divisions around the commonwealth. First- and second-year teachers who wish to participate should contact their building principals to apply.
Under the program, coaching, mentoring and professional development are provided at no cost to teachers, schools or school divisions, and services are customized to meet the specific needs of each division. First- and second-year teachers will have contact with their instructional coaches at least every other week during the entire school year.
Online professional development workshops will begin in September 2020, and occur twice a month to ensure multiple opportunities and choices based on the specific needs and interests of teachers.
“I believe the Virginia New Teacher Support Program will provide a framework for expanding new-teacher induction and play a key role in Virginia’s strategy for increasing teacher retention,” Lane said.
The Virginia New Teacher Support Program is funded through a $200,000 federal grant under Title II of the Every Student Succeeds Act.