If not for the support of her mentor, Adriana Alexander doubts she would still be teaching.
Alexander, a 25-year-old teacher at Oakbrook Elementary School in Lakewood, said there were many times in her first year on the job when she felt overwhelmed and wondered if she was in the right profession.
That’s a normal feeling for new teachers, her mentor, Emily Bradshaw, said. The 35-year-old instructional coach has worked with several new teachers as part of the state’s Beginning Educator Support Team (BEST) program.
“We have a lot of great first-year teachers that if they didn’t get the support they might walk away from the profession just because in the first year everything feels so new and it’s scary to do it if you’re doing it all by yourself,” Bradshaw said.
Strategies for supporting new state teachers are needed, especially now, as Washington state experiences an influx of first-time public school teachers. In the 2010–2011 school year, 3,387 state teachers were starting either their first or second year. By the fall of 2015, that number had more than doubled — to 6,918 teachers, according to a 2017 University of Washington report.
About 20 percent of all new teachers leave the profession within five years, but the BEST program has been shown to increase the retention of new teachers, according to the UW report, making it an important tool for addressing the teacher shortage around the state.
“If the BEST program didn’t exist, my first year may have well been my last,” Alexander said. “I would have been very overwhelmed and I would have doubted myself so much. … It’s very easy to get down on yourself when you aren’t doing what you think you should be doing.”
Read the rest of the story and watch a video interview with Alexander on the governor’s Medium page.