Teachers Learn in the Classroom, Too

Research out of Brown University (RI) shows that teachers improve tremendously in their first year of teaching and continue to do so during their career. Researchers John Papay and Matthew Kraft discussed this work in a free AACTE webinar last month, “Toward a Broader Conceptualization of Teacher Quality: How Schools Influence Teacher Effectiveness,” which was recorded and is now available in AACTE’s Resource Library.

Papay, assistant professor of education and economics, and Kraft, assistant professor of education, shared findings from their research, recently published in Productivity Returns to Experience in the Teacher Labor Market: Methodological Challenges and New Evidence on Long-Term Career Improvement and Can Professional Environments in Schools Promote Teacher Development? Explaining Heterogeneity in Returns to Teaching Experience. These studies show that teachers’ learning develops exponentially in their early years in the classroom but also continues to grow throughout their careers at a slower rate, and teachers working in more supportive professional environments improve their effectiveness more over time than teachers working in less supportive contexts.

The webinar highlighted mentoring as a key component to teachers’ growth. In the Brown studies, positive criticism and feedback led new teachers to improve their teaching style and become more effective. The researchers found growth in teacher effectiveness even after 30 years of teaching when working in a supportive environment.

Webinar participants engaged in an active discussion about how new teachers might assess the school environments they will work in. Papay and Kraft encouraged teacher candidates to think about questions such as Does this school have a positive community? and Does this school have what I need in order to be an effective teacher and improve my teaching skills? Participants discussed challenges for new teachers related to supply and demand and the timing of the hiring process, which can hinder teachers’ ability to seek out supportive environments that will help them develop as professionals.

To access the webinar recording and slides (for AACTE members only), click here.

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Guneev Sharma

AACTE Media Relations Intern