This qualitative analysis of teacher teams is part of a larger, comparative case study, “Developing Human Capital Within Schools,” conducted by the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers. Within one city, we interviewed 142 teachers and administrators in six high-poverty schools (three charter and three district), all of which had achieved the highest ranking in the state’s accountability system. Here, we analyze how each school approached the process of teacher recruitment and how both administrators and teachers experienced that process. Each school described strategies that were far from the “passive and provincial” efforts (DeArmond, Shaw, & Wright, 2009, p. 54) that have long characterized teacher recruitment in public schools. Instead, each actively developed a pool of candidates from which it could hire when teaching positions arose. Schools carefully pursued candidates by cultivating relationships with non-profits, universities, and the school district, and with the personal and professional networks of those working in the school. Often, they depended most on those who shared their mission of educating low-income, minority students and were able to provide the school with candidates who had already been carefully vetted.
Research clearly shows that the quality of teachers is the most important school-level factor affecting students' learning.
During the past decade, as U.S. schools have hired over two million new teachers, policymakers and school officials have experimented with an array of new approaches to improving teacher quality—from signing bonuses and alternative preparation to instructional coaches and peer review. However, the goal of ensuring that all students have effective teachers continues to be elusive and persistent attrition within the ranks of new teachers undermines progress.
The Project on the Next Generation of Teachers, directed by Susan Moore Johnson, is an ongoing research project addressing critical questions regarding the future of our nation’s teaching force. Since 1998, The Project has examined a range of issues related to attracting, supporting, and retaining skilled, committed, and effective teachers in U.S. public schools.
The generation of teachers now retiring is the first—and may be the last—to make teaching a life-long career.
Today's prospective teachers compare a career in education with many others, such as law, engineering, business, finance. These fields were largely closed to the cohort of retiring teachers when they entered the classroom in the 1960s and 1970s. Growing evidence shows that today’s early-career teachers are, indeed, part of a new and different generation.
More than one third of today's teachers have worked in another field before becoming teachers and many have prepared for teaching in non-traditional programs. As a cohort, they are more likely than their predecessors to treat teaching as a short-term career and to be less satisfied with its professional isolation, standardized pay, undifferentiated roles, and lack of opportunities for influence and advancement.
In an effort to inform policy and practice, The Project on the Next Generation of Teachers continues to explore and examine these teachers’ preferences, practices, and career decisions.