More Help, Less Hoops

New teachers are already saturated by theoretical paradigms and pedagogical exercises; what if BTSA was more supportive and less demanding?

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In all honesty, I joined this project excited about the opportunity to contribute, to learn, to collaborate: you know, to DEVELOP as a PROFESSIONAL. Unfortunately, I have not had nearly enough time to adequately peruse the array of ideas offered up by this vibrant educational community, let alone add my voice and vision to the conversation. Instead, the limited time that I might have devoted to this worthy and, I suspect, eminently useful endeavor has been consumed by the mundane, and at times (dare I say) inane, demands of the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) Induction. No offense to the myriad, highly effective educators that help facilitate and administer the program, but as I approach the midpoint of my SECOND year in this process, and continue to churn out documents that seem designed more to justify the existence of the program by exaggerating its benefit to new teachers than to actually support their development as educators, I can't help but feel that all of our time and efforts could be much better spent.

I'm not writing this entry for the purpose of expounding upon the specifics of my frustrations, which I hear echoed by every teacher I've ever met who has gone through the BTSA process. What I'm really looking for are some answers, or at least the right questions. For example:

What if, instead of requiring a significant commitment of time from newly minted teachers in a rigidly structured format that is not subject specific, beginning teacher training took a more collaborative approach?

What if new teachers could, upon their first hiring, be connected with a community of educators within the same academic discipline, for guidance, support, and oversight?

What if the money spent by the districts on BTSA every year was instead spent on hiring personal coaches/consultants to guide each new teacher through the challenges of year one, and year two if needed?

I apologize if my tone seems brusque, confrontational, or unpleasant in any way. I wish I had time to choose my words more carefully, and to soften my approach to this topic. But it's late, I'm tired, and this phase of the collaboration is about to end. I would have gotten to it sooner, and done a better job, if I hadn't been preoccupied with writing reports for BTSA that had, at best, minimal relevance to my teaching practice. There just has to be a better way.


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