Career advice from 3,300 DFW teachers
Teacher survey results highlight pre-teaching experiences and mentorship
Mar. 19, 2018

What makes new teachers feel prepared to be successful in the classroom?

That's the question our friends at the Best in Class Coalition (a group of organizations focused on supporting future and current educators in Dallas-Fort Worth) set out to answer with a survey to over 18,000 Dallas-Fort Worth teachers in May and June of 2017.

Over 3,300 teachers responded. In this article, we'll show you the takeaways about teacher preparation and how to be successful your first year in the classroom.

Already considering teaching? Find out what it takes to get certified to teach.

Pre-service teaching makes you feel more prepared

Teachers whose preparation programs included pre-service teaching experience were 16 percent more likely to feel prepared by that program for their first year in the classroom.

Pre-service teaching experience means that, before you became the primary teacher in a classroom, you were able to spend time practicing teaching students while a master teacher or coach watched and gave you feedback. 

Curious to learn more? Check out our do’s and don’ts for finding your pre-teaching experience.

This trend held true for teachers across all years of experience, race/ethnicity and content areas.

Here's your take-home advice about pre-teaching experiences from teachers who took the survey:

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Student teaching really prepared me in my first year, because it helped me see what it is like to run a classroom. I learned a lot about management and what worked and didn't work for certain students.

-Burleson ISD Teacher

What to look for in your first job

When asked to rank the most important factors for success in their first year, these are the themes that teachers chose:

  1. Opportunity to observe other teachers in the classroom during new teacher’s first year of teaching.
  2. Mentor from the same subject and/or grade level as the first-year teacher.
  3. Mentor with time to observe first-year teacher in their classroom and provide feedback.
  4. Common planning time with other teachers in the same grade level/team.
  5. Opportunity to observe other teachers in the classroom before beginning first year of teaching.
  6. Instructional coaching on how to manage a classroom.
  7. Student teaching before first year as teacher of record begins.
  8. Adequate support from the leadership at the school.
  9. Observations during the first year from school leadership with individualized feedback and coaching.
  10. Instructional coaching in academic subject area.

Teachers were clear that ample opportunities to get feedback, work with an effective mentor, observe other teachers, work with peers and get coaching were all incredibly important. They also noted the significance of practicing before becoming the‘“teacher of record.”

Pro Tip: When you are thinking about your first job, don’t be afraid to ask your prospective bosses about how they will ensure you get the feedback and support you need to be really successful with your students. 

Here's your take-home advice about what to look for in your first job from teachers who took the survey:

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Coaching on classroom management, being required to observe other teachers during the year, and positive feedback on my classroom management skills from administrators made all the difference my first year.

-Mesquite ISD Teacher

Turn advice into action

Want more advice like this? If you sign up for Talk to a Teacher, we can connect you to some awesome Dallas-Fort Worth teachers.

Big data nerd? Check out 2017 DFW Teacher Survey to view all the findings from the report. 

If you want help getting teacher certified, we’re here for you. Head over to How to Become a Teacher so you can gain access to TeachDFW services (all free!). Get on-call advice, start application checklists, learn best practices and claim fee reimbursements.