Section VI—Career Pathways and Professional Advancement

Section VI—Career Pathways and Professional Advancement

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.


I think that this sort-of apprentice model for becoming a teacher has some distinct potential. In fields like science, this is very much similar to the process that graduate students go through to receive their Ph-D's. They begin their graduate studies in the lab of someone who has already demonstrated success in the field. They remain there for a few years, getting paid, while they acquire the knowledge they will need to run a lab independently. Then, upon graduation, they progress to a post-doctoral fellowship where the pay is higher, and their work is more independently driven, though they are still supervised by someone established in the field. After a few years, then they are ready to move up the pay scale again, and run their own lab. And as teachers we are working with humans as our product- how much more important is it for us to have an effective model for training our educators?

The way that we train teachers now seems illogical when this alternative option is explained. This would also renovate teacher evaluations to something more ongoing and directly applicable to informing a teacher's instruction. From a schooling experience largely isolated from real applicable experience in the classroom to working actively under a Master teacher; from being put in an isolated classroom upon graduation often without any significant coaching or mentorship to having support and collaboration as one learns one's craft- changing the way we train teachers seems to be a vital step that needs imminent attention. I hope that this is something that does not remain benched for years and years, but is something that gains momentum and produces lasting positive change in teacher training programs.

I greatly like the idea of having varying levels of teachers, such as residents, novice, professional, master, and teacher leaders. Also having the varying support depending on which level a teacher is at, such as residents and novice teachers having a mentor to help them. However being able to distinctly categorize teachers might be a large task to take on. How will it be determined when a teacher is no longer considered a novice? What would be considered a reasonable amount of time to demonstrate effectiveness as a teacher? Two years? Three years? Five years? What about the variables that come into play? Some teachers move through out a school system and with those moves come variations in administration, students, and communities. There are many things that will need to be considered before a role structure could be implemented.

I am very excited that this project will assist in helping classroom teachers who want to advance to administrative roles is more prevalent. In smaller counties, the way to promotional opportunities is who you know, rather than what you know. It is very frustrating to see advancement to some educators, who you know is not as knowledgeable in the areas required to be effective administrators.

I believe that some form of an Advisory Team should also be implemented to rule out the old, customary ways of hiring. When individuals seek advanced degrees, they do this in hopes of advancement; however, when those educators that advance, by the who you know concept, this frustrate those educators who are generally trying to help the students, which should be our first priority.

I am an Instructional Lead Teacher within my county, and have been since 2007; none the less, I am still in that same position, not because I am ineffective, but because of the customary practices of hiring. I assume administrative duties in addition to teaching reading groups. My students are always at the top and always passes the standardized testing each year. Conversely, I have interviewed for two Assistant Principal jobs within my county, and without success, others were selected with less skills and with little knowledge of the job. I am the kind of person that places my priorities on the students, rather than trying to please those who have the hiring pencil in their hands. I am about doing things the right way and this seems to get me no where. It is and will always be, my professional practices in doing the right thing and speaking up for the right thing, regardless of who toes I may step on.

Your Project should prove to be very beneficial and effective for those who have made it to the top the wrong and unethical way.

The Good Force be with you!

Excellent Career Pathways and Professional Advancement will make the teachers and the students strive more for excellence.

Live forever and prosper!

That is not a career ladder. That is simply putting labels of levels onto teachers. It is also very stifling and linear. It is also has the potential for stigmatizing as in who wants their child taught by just a beginner? Who determines if a teacher moves along the line? I see the very real danger of favoritism, more evaluations and the subsequent confidential paper trail, and politics.
I suggest you examine the graphic for HTML seen here:
This more closely portrays dynamic organizations wherein the employee has multiple pathways, cross training opportunities, and means to explore utilizing their talents to support the mission and ultimately retains good folks as well. This form is found in Fortune 500 enterprises.
Not all teachers desire an Administrative Credential which is, at this point, the only means to enter any other interesting career track in a public school district despite their additional graduate degrees and/or specializations and/or real life experience and skills brought to public school teaching.
When classrooms are all flipped and computers are leveraged for instruction and data collection, a whole new breed of mentor, coach teacher should evolve which is long overdue.
Melissa V. Rentchler, MLISc., M.Ed., CA certificated Teacher and Teacher Librarian