Wednesday, July 24, 2024

New Teacher Experience project tackles teacher retention with Affinity Groups

by BIZ Magazine

The New Teacher Experience project, funded by the Louisiana Department of Education, aims to tackle teacher retention challenges by introducing Affinity Groups. Affinity Groups are teacher-led monthly virtual meetings designed to foster support, collaboration, and discussion among educators across the state.

“Teacher retention is critical right now, not only in our country but specifically in Louisiana,” said Molly Rainwater, Coordinator of Strategic Learning Partnerships for the Science and Technology Education Center (SciTEC). “Affinity Groups provide a space for new educators to network, collaborate, and address shared challenges they may encounter in their first years in the classroom.

The New Teacher Experience addresses teacher retention issues caused by a lack of support and feelings of isolation among teachers. Educators from all over Louisiana can collaborate, creating a common purpose to empower new teachers to succeed and build professional networks with educators statewide.

The primary focus of these groups is to support new teachers; however, the offer is open to educators of all experience levels in need of additional support. Experienced educators can also apply to become Affinity Group Leaders, guiding groups with support and assurance for their peers.

“I have been an educator for 12 years and have seen teachers leave the profession for various reasons,” said Rainwater. “Many of them feel as if they’re on an island all alone in their first few years. The Affinity Group Leader can provide mentorship and the fellow group members can offer strategies and support through these first few critical years of a teacher’s professional life.”

In the first year, more than 330 teachers from 40 parishes were connected through this program. Continuing into the second year, more than 500 teachers from across the state are anticipated to attend.

“Our focus is to help early career Louisiana educators feel supported, heard, and valued through the Affinity Group work,” said Dr. Lindsey Vincent, Associate Dean for Research, Outreach, and Innovation. “Playing a small part in supporting and encouraging these everyday heroes is one of the greatest privileges of our team in the College of Education and Human Sciences at Louisiana Tech University.”

For more information on the work of this program and how to get involved in Affinity Groups, visit here or contact Molly Rainwater at [email protected].

SciTEC is a division of the College of Education and Human Sciences. To learn more, visit the link here.

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