Why Creative Bilingual Solutions? Why Now?
Dear friends and colleagues,
This spring, I made the decision to leave the classroom. I love the little ones. Coming home with stories of how so-and-so finally got equivalent fractions or how so-and-so said something ridiculously funny it was hard to keep a straight face – those are the reasons that kept me going each and every day. Leaving the classroom was no easy decision. However, two aspects of teaching and leading at my school made me realize how my impact could be far greater outside of the classroom.
My realization came when we faced for the seventh year in a row, a teacher recruitment frenzy for the French dual language program. With only 12 French dual language teaching positions at my school, we have recruited 28 teachers over the last eight years!!! Our retention rate is abysmal! Now, some teachers moved out of state. Some teachers became stay at home mothers, and chose not to return to the classroom. Others made career changes. Still others chose to leave the dual language program, but stay in teaching.
Most people would love teaching at my school. So why were we continually recruiting 3-5 teachers each year?
After doing some research, I came across articles about teacher retention in Canada. Indeed, even Canadian schools have difficulty retaining French teachers. In 2008, a group of researchers conducted a nation-wide study to understand why that was. They found that there are five factors that explain French teacher attrition in Canada:
- Difficult work conditions inherent in French immersion and French as a second language teaching.
- Lack of instructional materials (particularly for immersion).
- Inherent challenges in the relational aspects of teaching.
- Underlying problems of classroom management and sometimes difficult clientele.
- Initial training and career choice of the drop-out teacher.
Source: Karsenti, T., Collin, S., Villeneuve, S., Dumouchel, G., & Roy, N. (2008). Why are new French immersion and French as a second language teachers leaving the profession? Results of a Canada-wide survey. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Association of Immersion Teachers.
Karsenti et al. recommend first and foremost more teacher mentoring. In addition, they advised for better overall support, more skills-preparatory training, more instructional materials and a specific interning schedule. Creative Bilingual Solutions aims to address all of these issues, and places a huge emphasis on teacher mentoring. I know from having worked with dozens of teachers that coaching teachers is the single best way to make them love their profession because they feel supported.
Now you know why I left the classroom. It doesn’t mean I won’t go back one day!
Wishing you all a great summer!
A votre service,