Anyone new to a particular culture

A Loose Connection

Tweeners have a loose connection with the school and community. They did not have a lot at stake within the organization. The personal interests of Tweeners can be a powerful link in the quest to retain these new educators in our schools. Intentionally placing these new professionals in key positions within our schools that connect with their areas of personal interest can create a bond with the school that may not occur otherwise.

Strengthening the bond of Tweeners is absolutely crucial to the development of positive school culture. A recent study indicated that 50% of new teachers who enter the educational profession leave the field before their 5th year in the classroom; in urban areas, that number escalates to nearly 70%.

Teams that build a core group of players who grow and develop together take positive steps toward winning a championship carry the goals and norms of the team with them from year to to year. If a team's roster of athletes and coaches changes from year to year and no clear nucleus is established, that team usually flounders and struggles to search for an identity. Consequently, victories become rare as the team grows more and more unstable. Schools are no different. School districts that are serious about growth and reform must be proactive in their plans to strengthen the bond between the school and the Tweener.

An Enthusiastic Nature

Tweeners are enthusiastic about what they can contribute to their students, school, community and nation through their service in the classroom.

Tweeners try to immerse themselves in their new culture by participating in voluntary committees, attending staff social functions, and arriving at the school early and leaving late. Tweeners, especially in the beginning stages, seize every opportunity to learn about their new environment.

The "Honeymoon Period" and Compliance

There is no person that the Tweener wants to impress more than his or her supervisor, primarily the school principal. The administrator have tremendous power of evaluation which can be intimidating - especially to someone who is simply trying to find comfort and stability within an organization. Tweeners in the study generally displayed high level of reverence - sometimes bordering on fear - for their school and district supervisors.

Administrators often assume everything is running smoothly because of the Tweeners high level of compliance and sunny disposition, but the teacher may be experiencing significant difficulty and trials. This causes some Tweeners to live in two worlds: a private world of struggle and doubt and a public world of false enthusiasm and positivity. These two worlds are a collision course called the moment of truth.

The moment of truth is the very critical moment when an educator questions his or her likelihood of continuing in the field. Any experienced educator remembers that moment well and the conditions that caused it. The reasons can vary from an explosive confrontation with parents to an unresponsive student who refuses to comply with classroom rules and regulations. No matter the circumstance, this very painful moment is significant in the career of an educator. It is the first time the educator seriously questions whether he or she will continue or consider other career options.

Why are Tweeners So Important

If public schools are to improve, the Tweeners must be secured and vested in the long-term future of our system. If schools that serve the lowest achieving groups, fail to retain new practitioners, the progress that we hope to achieve in public schools is highly unlikely and probably impossible to achieve. If the poorest and neediest students are consistently guided by novice professionals who never evolve into proficient instructors, they will constantly be behind.

Leaving Nothing to Chance

The evidence is clear: school leaders cannot leave new teacher development to chance. Leaders must be proactive and put time and resources behind the support and development of Tweeners. By doing this, we can methodically create the positive school cultures we need for our schools to universally evolve into high-performing organizations.
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