Dayna Burke and Tara Dale
Arizona, like many states across the country, is facing a severe teacher shortage. According to the 2015 Arizona Department of Education report, 24 percent of Arizona teachers leave after their first year and 20 percent leave after their second year. Arizona universities continually report decreasing numbers of students declaring and graduating with education degrees. As of 2016, only 21 percent of Arizona educators were over 55-years-old and approaching retirement. Arizona needs to recruit excellent, qualified teachers and we need those teachers to remain in the profession.
One of the many problems that has created high teacher turnover is the need to continually train and equip new teaching professionals with the skills, knowledge, and pedagogy that will adequately address the rigor and instructional shifts mandated by Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards.
In 2014, we created The Arizona Teacher Partnership in an attempt to retain the talented teaching force in our state. Our goal for the partnership was providing support to new teachers by pairing them with teachers from around the state that had been recognized through the Arizona Teacher of the Year Program. To get the most out of the partnership, we attempted to match novice teachers with mentor teachers in the same grade level/content area as a resource to guide, motivate, and lead their new-teacher partners. Our vision was to provide new teachers with an objective, nonjudgmental partner who would support them by collaborating on pedagogy and providing emotional support and advice.