- Joanna Bache Tobin
Attracting and Keeping the Best Educators for Anne Arundel County's Schools
If elected to the Anne Arundel County Board of Education (BOE), I will put the continuing problem of teacher retention at the top of my priority list. This appears to be a county-wide problem, and like other parents of children in AACPS, I've witnessed my daughter’s agony when her best teachers leave.
Addressing teacher retention is further complicated now by the fact that we are facing greater budgetary constraints as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. It remains my conviction, however, that we must keep retention as a top priority if we are going to recover as a strong community to help move our children forward. Failing to address retention, as we are in the midst of this crisis, may gain short-term savings but in the end will yield many long-term costs: children who become stressed and discouraged by the lack of a sufficient numbers of teachers.
There are a number of reasons we lose good teachers. It is true that Anne Arundel County pays its teachers less than surrounding counties. And we must address that. But pay is not the only, or even the most critical reason, teachers leave. They cite lack of autonomy, support from administration around discipline and other issues, mentorship, and steps to reduce class sizes, among others.
As a member of the Board of Education, I will address these issues: Work to decrease class sizes. When teachers have sufficient time and space to give individualized instruction and form one-on-one relationships, academic outcomes improve as will the social and emotional health of children.
Provide excellent, teacher-driven professional development. When professional development begins with the needs that teachers identify, and when teachers are involved in designing and delivering it with strong support from their administration, it is more likely to be effective.
Provide institutionally supported, consistent, authentic, long-term mentoring for teachers new to Anne Arundel County schools. When new teachers have the opportunity to build long-term, trusting relationships with teacher-mentors, it enables them to learn and grow, and it becomes far more likely that those teachers will stay and grow within AACPS.
Develop a career ladder for teachers enabling them to move forward and gain greater responsibilities and compensation while remaining in the classroom. By developing teacher-leader positions that would encompass mentoring and leading teaching teams around subject or grade cohorts, we could harness the talents of our best teachers who now often look to move into central office positions as a way to move forward.
Move curriculum development, as much as possible, into the hands of teachers and led by teacher leaders. Offer teachers the opportunity to work in the summer with colleagues to develop specific curricula in their areas of expertise.