With a third of the nation’s beginning teachers leaving the profession during their first three years, it is more critical than ever to provide the support needed to keep teachers in the field.

In Missouri, according to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 42% leave within the same three-year time frame. 

Administrators and mentors play an important role in supporting beginning teachers. Part of the process of supporting new teachers includes effective evaluation and effective feedback to help new teachers grow and develop.

When approached from a coaching perspective, the evaluation process can provide important structure and support for new teachers, allowing them not only to survive the first years but to succeed and flourish. It’s this kind of support that will help new teachers stay in the field.

Schools in the Network for Educator Effectiveness have built-in tools that will help administrators to evaluate new teachers and to give them effective feedback, providing support during those critical first three years of teaching.

In this blog, we discuss tools and strategies to help administrators evaluate and coach beginning teachers.

The NEE process provides administrators with training and tools for specific components that we will discuss more in-depth:

  • Classroom observation
  • Teacher professional development plans
  • Unit of instruction plans
Evaluation for new teachers

Classroom Observations for Beginning Teachers

Administrators and mentors should be observing new teachers regularly to provide constructive feedback and establish a coaching relationship. NEE recommends that a beginning teacher be observed in the classroom six to ten times during the course of a school year. An “observation” in the NEE process is defined as a short 10-minute walkthrough, although for schools that require a full-period observation, the process can be tweaked to combine some of those walkthroughs into a longer observation.

Before the observation (ideally during orientation), administrators should provide new teachers with the classroom observation rubrics they will be using to evaluate them. Familiarize teachers with the scoring system and the behaviors administrators look for as evidence of effective teaching. It is especially important that beginning teachers understand the process and know what is expected.

Particularly for beginning teachers, the most important step in the observation process comes after the observation. It is important that administrators follow each walkthrough with a face-to-face feedback session. Without a face-to-face conversation, the teacher may lack understanding and direction, resulting in frustration.

Feedback sessions are essential for helping new teachers reflect critically on student work and their own teaching practices. The principal and mentor may need to model self-reflection by identifying a problem and working through the Guide to Effective Feedback Conversations to help the teacher think in terms of evidence. The overall goal is to build the teacher’s abilities to think constructively about whatever comes up in their teaching and to help the teacher develop the skills necessary to become more effective.

Professional Development Plans for Beginning Teachers

In Missouri, beginning teachers are required to have a professional development plan in place for their first four years. NEE’s Teacher Professional Development Plan (TPDP) is the perfect way to get started.

Even if your state doesn’t require a professional development plan, the TPDP can still be a helpful tool for organizing goals and identifying resources.

Have the new teacher and the mentor sit down together to create the plan. Add follow-up dates to the teacher, mentor, and administration calendars.

Make notes about where teachers can find resources and support to fulfill their professional development plan requirements. A good resource for this type of material is NEE’s EdHub Library, which houses more than 300 professional learning resources on a variety of teaching topics and strategies.

Beginning Teacher Assistance Available in EdHub

Speaking of EdHub, our Beginning Teacher Assistance module is recommended for new teachers and fulfills Missouri state requirements for beginning teachers .

The module has the teacher work through five topics:

  • classroom environment
  • student engagement and motivation
  • formative assessment strategies
  • professional communication
  • education-related law

After the new teacher completes the module, the administrator can request a certificate of completion that can be signed and presented to the teacher.

Unit Planning for Beginning Teachers

NEE’s Unit of Instruction (UOI) is a tool that aligns with research-based strategies for unit design. Graduates of many universities and colleges have written units in college courses similar to what is presented in NEE.  For beginning teachers, the UOI can be used for pre-planning a unit, and the reflective pieces of the UOI can be completed and discussed with the mentor at the end.

The UOI includes evidence of student learning, which can be presented in person to give the teacher more opportunities to reflect on the unit.  Beginning teachers may be asked to turn in lesson plans for their UOI to their administrator or mentor. This offers feedback to the design portion of lesson planning and unit planning.  These sessions can be in the form of journaling through EdHub, face-to-face with mentors, or face-to-face with administrators. 

Supporting New Teachers with Effective Evaluation

Using a combination of effective evaluation and meaningful feedback provides structure and support for new teachers.

In addition to the three evaluation measures we discussed in-depth (classroom observation, PD plans, and the UOI) – student surveys can also be used as another source for feedback. The NEE system includes the option to use student surveys, which studies show provide accurate and reliable insight on teaching.

After evaluating a teacher through any of these methods we described – and the best approach combines as many of these methods as possible – it is most critical to provide feedback, resources, and support to help the teacher become more confident and effective.

It is up to administrators to provide the learning time needed for new teachers to hone their skills. A strong mentor supports instructional improvement while administrators are the evaluators.  Struggling teachers will need focused support, perhaps with an expert teacher as an additional mentor.  This mentor would only offer feedback in the area of focused support.

In addition to NEE components for supporting beginning teachers, administrators can support collaboration by scheduling time for the mentor and beginning teacher to meet and providing release time for the mentor to go into the beginning teacher’s class to observe.  Regular meeting times increase interaction and support between the mentor and beginning teacher.

The first years are incredibly stressful for beginning teachers. Using NEE evaluation components, along with a supportive mentor and administrators, will help alleviate stress by putting the focus on improving instruction in the classroom.

The Network for Educator Effectiveness (NEE) is a simple yet powerful comprehensive system for educator evaluation that helps educators grow, students learn, and schools improve. Developed by preK-12 practitioners and experts at the University of Missouri, NEE brings together classroom observation, student feedback, teacher curriculum planning, and professional development as measures of effectiveness in a secure online portal designed to promote educator growth and development.