Baltimore Teacher Network

Contact Information

1430 Carswell St
Baltimore, MD 21218 - 3618
FY 2015 RSVP Competition

Executive Summary

Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) has approximately 5,500 teachers. Each year nearly 300 to 500 new teachers are recruited due to early-career attrition and teacher retirements. Maryland has always been an "import" state, hiring teachers from other states, and Baltimore has been no exception to this practice. These new teachers enter BCPS eager to engage students as they start their new-found careers. Many of our new teachers are unfamiliar with the nuances of teaching in an urban school system, especially a system that has a disproportionate amount of kids living at or below the poverty level. This is evident in the fact that 84.5 percent of the students in BCPS are low-income (based on eligibility for Free or Reduced-Price Meals).

New teachers coming into BCPS are challenged in ways they were not prepared to meet. These new teachers often focus on teacher-directed instructional approaches such as whole-group instruction and teacher control, and dedicate less time to higher-order thinking skills. As a result, many of our students remain passive non-participants in the classroom and are less likely to develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. This can present a major problem for many of our students and teachers in light of the new Common Core curriculum and mandatory state testing.

These issues can be met by matching new teachers with experienced mentors that can guide them in preparing lesson plans, managing large classes, creating a classroom environment that meets the needs of diverse learners, and delivering differentiated instruction. Mentors can assist these teachers in the implementation of the new Common Core curriculum and illustrate how they can make it easier for students to learn. This promotes a teamwork approach to learning. Teachers need to be encouraged to use various approaches to teaching their students--approaches that meet the students where they are academically and socially. For example, at Independence School Local 1 (a BTN operated school) students put practical skills to work in real world situations.

Many of the new teachers coming into BCPS seek assistance such as mentoring, but they also need basic supplies such as pens, writing materials, chalk, books for the classroom, and other basic classroom resources. Teachers often leave frustrated and disenchanted with the profession or with the system after their first year. From a teacher's perspective, many BCPS schools are overcrowded or ill-equipped, which affects the instructional techniques that can be used, students' ability to concentrate, and classroom management. Another problem that many schools face is the learning curve that new teachers must go through during their first few years of teaching. BCPS often hires teachers well-qualified in their content area, but inexperienced and less prepared in their pedagogical practice. For instance, according to the Maryland Teacher Staffing Report 2010-14, "In 2010-11, 580 teachers were hired by BCPS however, only 173 were experienced and only 60 of the experienced were native to Maryland". In addition, new inexperienced teachers are generally under-prepared to meet the needs of culturally-diverse and economically-disadvantaged children facing struggles that interfere with academic performance. Data shows that the lack of highly trained teachers with skills relevant to low-income youth and communities is one of the factors contributing to and maintaining the achievement gap.

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