A significant challenge retaining effective educators has been finding ways to offer teachers satisfying career paths that allow them to take on significant roles and responsibilities and earn higher salaries without leaving the classrooms they love. Teachers long for opportunities that recognize their talents and allow them to contribute to transforming their schools into more effective centers for learning. Moreover, teachers who may have interest in moving to an administrative role would benefit from avenues that allow them cultivate their skills over time while still serving as effective teachers. As Madeleine Fennell, Chair of the NEA Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching, has said, it is "time to blast open the glass ceiling or glass door of advancement in the [teaching] profession." A new vision of the profession would offer accomplished teachers multiple pathways to advance their careers without leaving the classroom. Development and advancement could occur at every stage of a teacher's career, based on demonstrations of effectiveness with students and colleagues.
One vision of such career pathways might look like this. New graduates—or perhaps those still in preparation programs—might enter the profession as Residents, working under the supervision of Master teachers until certified. Once aspiring teachers demonstrate basic proficiency in the classroom and are certified, they become Novice teachers. In the Novice status as teacher of record, teachers might continue developing knowledge and skills for several years, working with a Master teacher or mentor, before earning full Professional status and receiving substantially higher pay. Earning Professional teacher status would require a teacher to demonstrate effective teaching, including successive years of improving student outcomes. Novice teachers unable to demonstrate effectiveness in a reasonable amount of time would not remain teachers.
Once Novice teachers advance to Professional status, they could remain in the classroom for the rest of their careers if desired, but they would have other options. Some may want to remain teachers but mentor Novice or Resident teachers for part of the day as Master teachers. Others may prefer to spend part of their day taking on leadership responsibilities, such as planning community outreach, developing curriculum, or planning professional development, as Teacher Leaders. Teachers would be offered a career lattice that recognizes varying professional strengths and interests and matches experience, desire and expertise with commensurate levels of responsibility and compensation. For a sample role structure, please see Appendix A.
Principals too will be selected based on their ability to be instructional leaders and managers of the complex dynamics in schools. Leaders in districts will look for teacher leaders who would make excellent principals and develop their skills. If a teacher decides to become a principal, he or she will get additional preparation to be certified as a principal, including significant clinical experience in a leadership capacity.