Supporting and retaining new special education teachers
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Supporting and Retaining New Special Education Teachers. COSA Fall Administrator Conference Mark Schalock Oregon Special Education Recruitment & Retention Project The Teaching Research Institute, Western Oregon University. Presentation Objectives.

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Supporting and retaining new special education teachers

Supporting and Retaining New Special Education Teachers

COSA Fall Administrator Conference

Mark Schalock

Oregon Special Education Recruitment

& Retention Project

The Teaching Research Institute,

Western Oregon University

Presentation objectives
Presentation Objectives

  • Challenges and Frustrations: Why Special Educators Leave

  • Personal Rewards: Why Special Educators Stay

  • Administrative Support

  • Other Supports

  • Resources

Focus of recruitment retention study
Focus of Recruitment & Retention Study

  • How individuals found their current position.

  • Factors related to accepting the employment.

  • Positive and negative experiences in the application, interview and hiring process.

  • The incidence and helpfulness of induction activities.

  • The incidence and helpfulness of initial support (transition) activities.

  • The incidence and importance of ongoing support activities and working conditions.

  • Factors associated with leaving previous employment.

Population studied recently hired special educators
Population Studied(Recently hired special educators)

  • Newly licensed special educators prepared in Oregon

  • Newly licensed special educators prepared outside of Oregon

  • Experienced Oregon special educators

  • Experienced out-of-state special educators

  • Experienced professionals new to special education

Survey development
Survey Development

  • Content of Survey

    • Review of research/literature

    • Regional workshops


    • Draft of survey

  • Survey pilot tested

  • Final review/modifications

Respondent demographics level of experience and origin
Respondent Demographics: Level of Experience and Origin

Respondent demographics employing agencies
Respondent Demographics: Employing Agencies

Respondent demographics regional settings
Respondent Demographics: Regional Settings

Factors related to high attrition rates in special education
Factors Related to High Attrition Rates in Special Education

  • Job design

  • School climate

  • Personal factors

Factors related to attrition job design issues
Factors Related to Attrition: Job Design Issues

  • Role ambiguity

  • Case loads

  • Procedural and paperwork demands

  • Insufficient time

Factors related to attrition school climate issues
Factors Related to Attrition: School Climate Issues

  • Insufficient resources

  • Inadequate administrative support

  • Lack of opportunity to collaborate

  • Lack of opportunity for professional development

Factors related to attrition personal issues
Factors Related to Attrition: Personal Issues

  • Inadequate preparation

  • Personal characteristics/situations

Why special educators leave greatest frustration
Why Special Educators Leave: Greatest Frustration

  • Amount of paperwork

  • High/challenging case load

  • Lack of resources/funding/budget cuts

  • Lack of parental support

  • Not enough time for both planning & paperwork

  • Poor staff relationships/communication

  • Managing difficult/multiple IA’s

  • Lack of cooperation/understanding by RegEd

  • Lack of instructional/remedial materials for BM’s

Why special educators leave specifics
Why Special Educators Leave: Specifics

Reasons for Leaving Previous Job

  • Location

  • Perception of unsupportive regular education administrator

  • Finding a similar position with a lower case/work load

  • Perception of unsupportive special education administrator

  • Conflicts with co-workers

  • Lack (or loss) of resources

    Potential Reasons to Leave Current Job

  • Continued loss/lack of resources

  • Working conditions

  • Family

Why special educators leave summary
Why Special Educators Leave: Summary

  • Typically no one reason

  • Cumulative effects of the conditions of the profession

    • Stress

    • Dissatisfaction with their job

    • Loss or lack of commitment

  • In combination these things build up and lead to the decision to either leave a current position or leave the profession all together.

Why special educators stay greatest rewards
Why Special Educators Stay: Greatest Rewards

  • Relationships with staff, co-workers

  • Relationship with students

  • Making a difference with kids

  • Support from SpEd administrators

  • Working with parents to impact students

  • Working with teachers to impact students

  • Learning/CPD opportunities

  • Being allowed to be creative

Why special educators stay summary
Why Special Educators Stay: Summary

Many things bring satisfaction to special educators

  • Making a positive difference with students

    • Personal

    • Collaborative

  • Positive Relationships/Support/Climate

    • Co-workers

    • Administrative Support

  • Professionalism/Challenge

The meaning of administrative support
The Meaning of Administrative Support

Logistical/Material Support

Informational Support

Emotional Support

Meaning of administrative support logistical material support
Meaning of Administrative Support: Logistical/Material Support

  • Providing materials, space and curriculum resources

  • Providing time for teaching and non-teaching duties

  • Help with scheduling meetings and paperwork

Meaning of administrative support informational support
Meaning of Administrative Support: Informational Support Support

  • Support (financial, substitute) to attend professional development opportunities.

  • Opportunities to meet with competent colleagues.

  • Access to a mentor – either a formal mentor or informal mentor.

Meaning of administrative support emotional support
Meaning of Administrative Support: Emotional Support Support

  • Showing teachers that they are esteemed, trusted professionals

  • Establishing a positive school/work climate inclusive of Special Educators

Prevalence and helpfulness of support activities
Prevalence and Helpfulness of SupportSupport Activities

Orientation Activities

Initial Supports

Ongoing Supports and Working Conditions

Findings related to orientation activities
Findings Related to Orientation Activities Support

Transitioning into their new job and becoming comfortable.

  • Formal orientation meetings

  • Review of IEP/IFSP procedures

  • Being paired with an experienced staff member

  • Having role and expectations clearly defined

  • Time with supervisor

Helpful orientation activities overall
Helpful Orientation Activities: Overall Support

Most helpful activities

  • Being paired with an experienced staff member to “learn the ropes”.

  • Time with their supervisor to ask questions and clarify issues.

  • Helping new staff members understand their roles and responsibilities.

    Less helpful orientation activities

  • Formal orientation meetings.

  • Paperwork orientation/training.

Findings related to the provision of initial supports
Findings Related to the Provision Supportof Initial Supports

Providing emotional and instructional supports in the first year

  • Regular meetings

  • Meetings with supervisors

  • Observing other staff

  • Formal mentors

  • Informal mentors

Initial supports overall
Initial Supports: Overall Support

Most Helpful Initial Supports

  • Regular and frequent meetings with job-a-like colleagues

  • Opportunity to meet with supervisors

  • Opportunity to observe others

  • Mentoring

    • Formal mentors

    • Informal mentors

Findings related to ongoing supports and working environment
Findings Related to Ongoing Supports and Working Environment Support

Providing a supportive working environment is crucial to retaining special educators.

  • Good working relationships with regular educators

  • Supportive special education administrators

  • Knowledgeable (about IDEA) and supporting building principals

  • Adequate numbers of well prepared paraprofessionals

Special education administrator support strategies
Special Education Administrator Support Strategies Support

  • Conduct district orientation

  • Provide written materials

  • Review district special education forms

  • Provide information on available materials and resources

  • Supply information on ordering procedures

Special education administrator support strategies1
Special Education Administrator Support Strategies Support

  • Introduce key district staff

  • Assign mentor

  • Provide release time

  • Provide networking opportunities

  • Maintain ongoing informal and formal contact

Special education administrator support strategies2
Special Education Administrator Support Strategies Support

  • Clearly delineate teacher’s responsibilities

  • Provide professional development opportunities

  • Support participation in professional organizations

  • Share resources and information targeted to beginning teachers

  • Supply information on local community

Building administrator support strategies
Building Administrator SupportSupport Strategies

  • Conduct building orientation meeting

  • Introduce key building staff

  • Define supervisory role and responsibilities

  • Assign a building guide

  • Provide release time

Building administrator support strategies1
Building Administrator SupportSupport Strategies

  • Provide networking opportunities

  • Delineate clear responsibilities

  • Reduce extracurricular assignments

  • Institute communication system

  • Provide common prep time

Components of good mentor programs
Components of SupportGood Mentor Programs

  • Clearly defined selection criteria

  • Clearly defined mentor roles and responsibilities

  • Mentor training and support

  • Time for mentoring

  • Compensation or incentives for mentors

Outcome levels
Outcome Levels Support




Awareness level approaches
Awareness-Level Approaches Support

  • Presentations

  • Written materials

  • Videos

Knowledge level approaches
Knowledge-Level Approaches Support

  • Demonstration/observation

  • Independent study

  • Problem solving

  • Brainstorming

Components necessary to master a skill
Components Necessary to SupportMaster a Skill

  • Theoretical basis

  • Demonstration

  • Practice and feedback

  • Coaching or mentoring

Skill level approaches
Skill-Level Approaches Support

  • Coaching

  • Follow-up plan

  • Journal/self reflective practice

  • Self-assessment self-analysis

Modes for delivering instruction
Modes for Delivering Instruction Support

  • Self study

  • Mentoring partnership

  • Organized instruction

Assessment process
Assessment Process Support

2. Analyze & Evaluate the Information

1. Collect Information

3. Use what you have Learned

Items to consider in collecting information
Items to Consider in SupportCollecting Information

  • Issues in the field

  • District/school mission, vision, goals

  • Issues raised from recent monitoring visit or outside evaluation

  • Assessment of teacher needs

  • Unique characteristics of the teachers

Assessment process1
Assessment Process Support

2. Analyze & Evaluate the Information

1. Collect Information

3. Use what you have Learned

Participant resources
Participant Resources Support

  • Rookie Toolkit Manual

  • Self-Guided Needs Assessment

  • Survey

  • R&R Survey CD-ROM

Web based resources
Web-Based Resources Support

  • Recruitment & Retention website:

  • TRIM Website:

  • Oregon Parent Training and Information Center:

  • COPSSE website:

  • CEC website: