Grant Wood AEA Program Helps Retain New Teachers in Local Schools

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(Cedar Rapids) — Grant Wood Area Education Agency has a program in place to address the teacher shortage for districts in East Central Iowa by helping districts retain teachers who are newest to the profession.

“There is a national trend of fewer teachers entering the field of education, and there’s a growing trend of educators who are leaving the profession,” commented Grant Wood AEA Chief Administrator John Speer. “Our partnering districts looked to us for help with not just retaining these teachers, but helping new professionals be as effective as possible in today’s classroom settings.”

Grant Wood AEA launched a high-quality mentoring and induction program to address this need. One to two hours each week, new teachers participating in the induction consortium are joined by a coach from Grant Wood AEA who works directly with them in their classrooms. The AEA mentor coaches the teacher to help improve classroom instruction and their support for students.  This partnership encourages goal setting, self-reflection, and confidence building among teachers in the program. In addition, teacher participants in the program network with other new teachers from nearby school districts to access professional development and leadership consultation.

And data is showing that the program is netting results for districts, teachers and students. Grant Wood AEA has been collecting data on the program since 2013-14 when the agency first started supporting teachers through a formal mentoring program, and the AEA’s mentoring and induction coaches and teachers have participated in national research that measures the impact of teacher mentoring programs. The data shows:

  • 82 percent of teachers involved in Grant Wood AEA program have continued teaching in Iowa after five years, compared to the statewide retention average of only 69 percent.

  • National data, which includes the Grant Wood AEA consortium, consistently shows that students taught by induction-supported teachers were 2-5 months academically ahead of students whose new teacher only received traditional training.

  • 94 percent of beginning teachers in the Grant Wood AEA consortium shared that they were “quite confident” or “extremely confident” that they could implement effective teaching strategies with each of the students with which they work.

“Our program has multiple measures of impact,” commented Speer. “We are pleased with our teacher retention information, but also with the changes our districts are seeing with the teachers’ instructional practices and gains in student learning and engagement. We know the importance of the teacher who leads student learning in each classroom, and this program provides direct and personalized support where and when it’s needed.”

“The induction consortium has a history of accomplishing the increasingly important goal of teacher retention,” shared Kim Owen, regional administrator at Grant Wood AEA who oversees the mentoring induction consortium. “Confident and supported teachers create learning environments where all students are successful and engaged.”

This year the AEA’s program is supporting 17 local districts and 246 new teachers from districts including Alburnett, Benton, Central City, Cedar Rapids, College Community, English Valleys, Highland, Hillcrest Academy, Iowa Valley, Linn-Mar, Lisbon, Mid-Prairie, Mount Vernon, North Cedar, Olin, Vinton-Shellsburg and Williamsburg Community School Districts.

“The induction consortium supports our new teachers in an effective and systematic manner, and it aligns with our instructional model and student achievement goals,” shared Linn-Mar Community School District Associate Superintendent Bob Read.

“Entering the teaching profession is complicated, intense, and challenging, and our investment in the consortium helps us to get the most from the investment we make in new professionals,” said Williamsburg Community School District Superintendent Chad Garber. “Ensuring our new teachers receive targeted support is one way that we can demonstrate our commitment to them and welcome them to our profession.”

“I would not be the teacher I am without the AEA’s induction program,” commented Cedar Rapids Metro High School Teacher Michael Finely. “It’s a benefit to have someone to talk things through, and especially someone who knows as much as my coach does, to help me plan, and structure, and give me feedback on what works and why.”

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