Context, Clarity, and Cultivation: How School Leaders Can Support and Retain Alternatively Permitted Teachers


Message from the Editor:

I am thrilled to introduce this latest blog which raises the important issue of teacher shortage and highlights some of the challenges leaders face in ensuring schools have enough teachers in their classrooms. Lisa and Nichole share in this blog some of their research into how leaders can support and retain early career teachers.

Takeaways include the importance of relationship-building, through networking and mentoring. Support is also a key factor, with leaders supporting new teachers to gain a sense of efficacy about their professional practice through a constructive monitoring of their learning.

It is always fascinating to read and learn from contexts outside of the UK and I am sure that BELMAS members, educational leaders and practitioners across the world will recognise many of the recruitment challenges this blog highlights. If you would like to comment on this or any other of our blogs, then please tweet using #BELMASblog to join the discussion.

 - Suzanne

Authors: Lisa Harington & Nichole Walsh


The teacher shortage has forced preparation programs and school leaders to reinvent pathways to a career in education (e.g., Adamson & Darling-Hammond, 2012; Carver-Thomas & Darling-Hammond, 2017) including district hiring of alternatively permitted teachers.  Unfortunately, these educators have little to no preparation and lack self-efficacy for the daily challenges of the classroom (e.g., Marzanno et al., 2003; Sprick, 2009; Klassen & Ming Chiu, 2010). These factors contribute to teacher attrition, leaving school leaders in an expensive cycle of replacing hard-to-fill positions (Guha et al., 2016). How can we, as school leaders, increase retention and teacher efficacy for these unique sets of new hires?


As Darling-Hammond (2010) asserts, “Learning to practice in practice, with expert guidance is essential to becoming a great teacher” (p. 39). These experiences require reflection of new learning and continued practice with support.  For alternate permit teachers who lack knowledge and experience, cultivating a positive classroom environment is paramount. This directly relates to increased teacher efficacy (e.g., Marzanno et al., 2003; Sprick, 2009) which is associated with student achievement, job satisfaction, and retention (e.g., Tschannen-Moran et al., 2007; Rockoff et al., 2008; Klassen & Ming Chiu, 2010). School and district leaders have an opportunity to grow teacher efficacy through intentional learning and practice while on-the-job.

In our study of one district’s support to assist these teachers, we identify factors that school leaders can establish to show positive retention trends and recruitment of more ethnically diverse teachers (Harrington & Walsh, 2020).


This study found adequate supports can cultivate a successful foundation when school leaders are tasked to hire teachers who have not yet completed their credentialing requirements.

Invite preparations programs to the table

The importance of networking and partnering with local teacher preparation programs was key. When given an invitation to work alongside the district, these preparation programs learn district structures and processes for recruiting, training and retaining new teachers. Reciprocally, partnering programs offer a wide array of options for teachers to choose the best program to meet their needs to obtain their credential.

Provide on-ramping orientation

The district created an introductory orientation for each alternative permit new hires. Each participant received a stipend for the 2-hour orientation which presented district expectations and the broader context of a career in education. District leaders attended each orientation to build relationships, acknowledging the value and worth of each new hire to the mission of the district. University partners were invited to share program features, timelines and credentialing processes.

Assign ongoing teacher mentorship

As alternative permit hires, the district provided these new teachers regular supportive interactions with a teacher mentor. The study participants appreciated this support and desired more time with mentors to discuss challenges, glean resources, observe model instruction, and receive feedback. The opportunity to share reflective dialogue for self-transformation supported on-the-job learning.

Provide classroom management training

To improve teacher retention alone, it is critical that teachers be taught how to create a rigorous learning environment and how to develop effective classroom management strategies (Guha et al., 2016; Marzanno et al., 2003). To address this, the district provided immediate intensive classroom management training since these new hires came with little to no theory or practice in managing and teaching groups of children. Participants felt the training was a critical component to increasing teacher efficacy and classroom success, as it provided a framework for fostering positive and productive classroom environments.

Develop and regularly use credential progress monitoring

While the information and on-going support is essential to thoughtfully monitor each new hire’s progress toward a credential is equally important. The district created an electronic supervision system by which new hires kept track of their credential progress within the alternative permit timeframe. Site administrators, already meeting with their teachers for evaluations, could use this monitoring tool to encourage credential completion for job retention.

Provide other professional learning options 

A well-structured classroom and intentionally planned instruction take effort to create and when time is given, the payoff will be exponential for the student and the teacher (Marzano et al., 2003).  From this lens, the district encouraged participation in a paid, self-select professional learning series beyond the regular workday. Participants stated the options were helpful, but desired more specialty topics on trauma informed practices, social emotional learning, and legal paperwork specific to special education.

Call to Action

With a rise of alternative permit teachers coming to education, it is the responsibility of leadership, for the sake of our students and well-being of new hires, that a full range of theory, tools, and practice are provided to meet the demands of the classroom from the start.


Lisa Harrington, Ed.D. is currently an Independent Educational Consultant and Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Education at Fresno Pacific University. As a former Director of Human Resources, school administrator, professional development leader, and teacher, Dr. Harrington has over 30 years of K-12 and Higher Ed. experience. Dr. Harrington provides guidance for district leaders in instructional and behavioral management for student success. She also provides new teacher support, teacher development, coaching, and planning in the areas English-language development, literacy, with an emphasis in writing, and creating effective learning environments.

Nichole Walsh, Ed.D. is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership within the Kremen School of Education and Human Development at Fresno State. Additionally, Dr. Walsh is the PI for the California Reading and Literature Project at Fresno State. She has 18 years of experience in K-12 and Higher Ed., including secondary classroom teacher, district instructional coach, and school administrator. Dr. Walsh consults in the field providing teacher development and principal coaching in the areas of literacy, English language learning, school-wide initiatives and new teacher support.

Selected References

Adamson F, Darling-Hammond L (2012) “Funding disparities and the inequitable distribution of teachers: Evaluating sources and solutions”, Education Policy Analysis Archives. Nov 19; Vol. 20 No. 37.

Carver-Thomas D, Darling-Hammond L (2017) “Addressing California’s growing teacher shortage”, available at: (accessed 27 March 2020).

Darling-Hammond L (2010) Evaluating teacher effectiveness: How teacher performance assessments can measure and improve teaching. Center for American Progress. Available at:

Guha R, Hyler ME, Darling-Hammond, L (2016) “The teacher residency: An innovative model for preparing teachers”, available at: (accessed 27 March 2020).

Harrington L, Walsh, N (2020) District support of alternative permit teachers for increasing efficacy and retention. Management in Education,

Klassen RM, Chiu MM (2010). “Effects on teachers' self-efficacy and job satisfaction: Teacher gender, years of experience, and job stress”, Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol.102(3):741.

Marzano, R.J., Marzano J.S., Pickering D.J. (2003). Classroom Management That Works, ASCD, Alexandra, VA.

Rockoff JE, Jacob BA, Kane TJ, Staiger DO (2008)  “Can you recognize an effective teacher when you recruit one?” NBER Working Paper No. 14485, The National Bureau of Economic Research; Cambridge, MA, January.       

Sprick R (2009) CHAMPS: A Proactive and Positive Approach to Classroom Management, Pacific Northwest Publishing, INC, Eugene, OR.

Tschannen-Moran M and Hoy AW (2007) The differential antecedents of self-efficacy beliefs of novice and experienced teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education 23(6): 944–956.

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