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MCPS works to keep teachers in Missoula

MCPS Mentorship
Posted at 5:18 PM, Oct 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-21 12:19:26-04

MISSOULA — Retaining teachers is a tough task across the country and here in Montana it becomes especially difficult to compete with other states salary offerings.

Missoula County Public Schools has a large selection of applicants to choose form when filling teaching vacancies and they are also doing something unique to help retain those teachers.

MCPS also has faculty instruction coaches and one-on-one mentors available for all teachers new to the district as part of an effort to help teachers be the best they can be while also helping to keep them in the district.

Brittnie Keilman, a new Faculty Instruction Coach for 6th to 12th grade said,

"We have a coaching menu so there's all sorts of options that they can choose to try out they can check out a go pro and video themselves and watch themselves teach and learn," said Brittnie Keilman, a new Faculty Instruction Coach for grades six-through-12.

"They can have us come and observe and give feedback or we can even go observe other teachers together and learn about different techniques to try in their classroom."

MCPS has a faculty instruction coach for Kindergarten to grade five teachers and another for grades six through 12 -- and both say the big thing for new teachers in classroom management techniques.

"For new teachers I would say that the most common problem is classroom management those strategies to transition kids into the classroom successfully get them rolling into their lessons keeping them engaged throughout the class," Keilman said.

There are also teachers who are new to MCPS but are already seasoned vets in the industry.

"We have a lot of people who are transferring who are not brand new teachers, they are just new to MCPS and that is still something that we are taking into account," Katie Lapointe, a new Faculty Instruction Coach for pre-kindergarten through grade five said,

"We have mentors for them and we are absolutely in the growth mindset and improvement science frame of thinking. So everyone is always learning," Keilman said.

"I end up learning the mentors end up learning the new faculty learn. The fresh out of college teachers are learning and everyone is supporting each other."

"Our whole model is on improvement and growth mindset basically where everyone can learn something and improve something," Keilman added.

The program is funded by a grant through the National Education Association, which is monitoring the program closely to see if it should be implemented in other schools across the US.

"We meet with them actually on the phone video -- phone calls -- monthly and talk about our progress show what we call a PDSA cycle, which is a Plan do Study Act Plan Cycle of the data that we are collecting and showing that we are also working on continuing improvement of the program continually just bettering the support for those new faculty so they feel that job satisfaction and that desire to stay with our district and to continue to serve students."

MCPS has a program in place helping all of the new teachers in their district to stay in the district.

Dr. Elise Guest, MCPS's Executive Director of Teaching and Learning, said the program is trying to change the national trend of 30 percent of first time teachers leaving the industry in the first three to five years.