Several of my closest work-friends are first-year teachers, and because of new credential requirements they have to do this program called BTSA.
They have these huge binders they have to complete, and they have meetings with ‘mentors’ who are there to help them get through the paperwork. My friend (who will probably be reading this) is a very good teacher. Like all first year teachers, she has things to work on, but considering her lack of experience, she’s pretty darned good. And yet, she is apparently ‘failing’ BTSA because she’s having trouble understanding the paperwork.
Let’s look at BTSA’s “goals”:
Provide an effective transition into the teaching career for first- and second-year teachers in California.
Well… teachers sure do a mindboggling amount of paperwork. So, the binders get teachers ready to be buried in paperwork. Good job so far.
Improve the educational performance of students through improved training, information, and assistance for participating teachers.
It is time consuming. Extremely so. There are tons of classes, meetings, workshops, etc. to attend, which takes time away from lesson planning, parent conferencing, grading, etc.. Clearly, this is THE way to improve student performance.
Enable beginning teachers to be effective in teaching students who are culturally, linguistically, and academically diverse.
By requiring them to spend several hours a week fussing over papers such as student interest surveys, sign-up sheets, and reflective journals. The time wouldn’t be better spent observing other teachers, taking a conversational Spanish class at a local adult school, or attending after-school activities to participate in the school’s culture.
Ensure the professional success and retention of new teachers.
BTSA is a huge incentive for teachers to stay in their jobs. That’s what people go into teaching for… to lug around 2 inch binders full of useless papers and stress over not having a particular tab item complete, to attend countless meetings after school (in addition to having to take night classes to finish the credential), and to spend hours writing ‘reflections,” lesson plans be darned.
Ensure that a support provider provides intensive individualized support and assistance to each participating beginning teacher.
Unless the ‘support provider’ can’t be bothered to help. Kind of how so many master teachers go AWOL when a student teacher takes over the classroom. And again, those meetings are SO supportive… after all, that time couldn’t be spent in any better, more productive way.
Ensure that an individual induction plan is in place for each participating beginning teacher and is based on an ongoing assessment of the development of the beginning teacher.
An individual induction plan? That’s why there are so many papers to complete? Is the paperwork being assigned after the teacher has been observed, so that the teacher can work on their weaknesses rather than have to put together a ‘portfolio’ of crap that they already know how to do?
Ensure continuous program improvement through ongoing research, development, and evaluation
Sure, because BTSA leaves SO much time for teachers to continue improving their skills through education, observation, and research.
I took a look at my friend’s paperwork. It’s a NIGHTMARE. It’s HUGE, full of tabs (half of which I couldn’t even figure out, and I’ve been teaching for a while), even more full of papers of all colors, including forms, printouts and who knows what else.
First year teachers need MORE time to work on their craft. Not less. Had I had to do this as a first year teacher, I probably would have quit… it’s a completely ridiculous amount of time and work.
Some real-world experiences with BTSA participants:
Beginning Teacher Stress & Aggravation
Support or another hoop?
Busywork, Tedious, Senseless, and Asinine
BTSA gets a big thumbs-down from me. Yuck.