Retaining teachers key to state-funded program in Marysville

MARYSVILLE – The ongoing teacher shortage means Marysville, and most other school districts statewide, wants to do a better job training the teachers they have.

“Teacher success equals student success,” Brynn Marcum told the school board Monday. She is the district’s director of curriculum and assessment.

She talked about the Beginning Educator Support Team, which is funded by a state grant.

BEST works with the district’s 74 teachers who are in their first two years in the profession. Statistics show 18 percent of teachers burn out in their first two years. For special education teachers, they are 2 1/2 times more likely to quit.

“Retention is the number one goal,” Marcum said.

She said that at job fairs one of the first questions new teachers ask is what the district has for teacher support. In Marysville, they get four days of paid training before school starts. They learn where to go for help.

The district then offers a menu of opportunities for professional development. “Teachers learn differently” just like students, Marcum said.

They work with veteran teachers on classroom management and engaging students. Lisa Sophie, one of the BEST members, said they learn the Power of Praise, meaning praise a student four times for every one time they correct them.

Marcum said feedback from teachers shows they like the coaching conversations, informal check-ins, observations and feedback, and curriculum and planning support.

Not only are the teachers taught, but the mentors learn, too. They learn not to tell the new teachers what to do, but guide and empower them to find the next level themselves.

Coach, consult and collaborate, but don’t fix, Marcum said.

“Support our novice teachers. Help them form an identity,” she added.

The program is working, she said. In a survey, 85 percent of novice teachers said they feel positive about their situations.

School board director Chris Nation asked if parents are part of the process.

“We miss that connection because we think we’re the pros all the time,” he said.

Superintendent Jason Thompson said the program is such a success the state legislature should provide more funding. Currently, first-year teachers are allotted $2,000 with $1,000 for second-year teachers.

“That’s not a lot of investment,” Nation agreed.

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