Finding My Rhythm as a New Teacher

by Carson Coomes, Orchestra Director, Blythewood Middle School

As a fourth grader, I remember being shuffled down to my school’s auditorium one morning for a performance from the fifth grade strings class. I had no clue what to expect, but it captured my interest. I was captivated by the many instruments and decided then that I would pursue learning a stringed instrument.

That decision impacted the rest of my life.

Shortly thereafter I was preparing for my first orchestra class, praying I could play the cello and relenting when told to pick something smaller. “As long as it’s NOT the violin.” I had an incurable desire to be unique, which led to a viola being placed in my hands. Before orchestra classes began I remember sitting in the living room at home, staring at the instrument with wide eyes full of wonder and admiration.

Fast forward to my freshman year at the University of South Carolina. I decided to major in music education. My teachers have succeeded in inspiring me to complete the cycle they began: enter the classroom, instill a love of music and learning, build relationships, inspire the next generation, and repeat. As a new student at the university, I was able to be a part of the UofSC String Project, an organization that hosts students from across the Midlands in beginning orchestra classes, private lessons, and ensembles. First year undergraduates in the program begin as classroom assistants, then progress to having private studios as sophomores. As juniors and seniors, undergraduates maintain their private studios and teach second year and beginning orchestra classes. Not only was I able to get real life and real classroom experience, but I was also able to form relationships with students that still keep in touch!

When my senior year arrived, I could not believe that the time had come for me to enter into the classroom myself. I was nervous and anxious, despite knowing I had received high quality training for the seven semesters leading up to that point (the Imposter Syndrome symptoms were real). But I wasn’t just anxious; I was excited! I was eager to please, hanging onto every word and ounce of feedback my coaching teachers offered. I remember keeping a journal of their advice and reflections, and frantically taking notes during our debriefs following a lesson. My podium time and their advice helped boost my “bag of tricks,” and I began to find my own teaching style.

In the Fall of 2017, I put my teaching strategies to the test as a middle school Orchestra Director. It felt good to have my first real gig as an educator. I was staying in an area where I had connections and mentors. I was entering into a district that supported and promoted the arts. And I was coming into a school program that was well known. An added bonus – the other music teachers were brand new too, so we could start fresh and build our programs in a way that encouraged and promoted growth and collaboration. I remember waking up on my "first day of school," putting on my "first day of school" outfit, taking my "first day of school" photo, and getting to the building only to find that I was absolutely terrified. I had a plan, but having a plan and putting said plan into action are NOT the same. Even doing something as simple as going over my Orchestra Handbook felt daunting.

I had a plan, but having a plan and putting said plan into action are NOT the same. Even doing something as simple as going over my Orchestra Handbook felt daunting.

As you may have assumed, I survived my first day, and learned quickly that getting through the first year would be all about survival. I remember one afternoon in the fall, I was in my classroom working during a planning period when my phone rang. The person calling was Nicole Skeen, a representative of the Carolina Teacher Induction Program (CarolinaTIP). I had heard of this program before, but I was not in the business of saying yes to every opportunity that came my way during year one. “It’s all about survival. You can say no,” was my motto. I had overextended myself during my senior year in college and did not want to bring that stress upon myself again. But there was something in the way Nicole described the program that caught my interest, she spoke of CarolinaTIP with so much passion and the teaching profession with sincerity.

I caved and said “Yes!” And Nicole’s reaction? Absolute joy.

How could I say no to a program that so desperately wanted to aid my profession? How could I say no to a program that would benefit my students? How could I say no to someone who wanted nothing more than to help me become the best version of myself in the classroom? Exactly – I couldn’t.

How could I say no to someone who wanted nothing more than to help me become the best version of myself in the classroom? Exactly – I couldn’t.

To be candid, I was skeptical about the benefit this program would be to me at first. As a middle school orchestra director, I was leaning heavily on my colleagues and music mentors to help me with daily classroom instruction. Many general classroom instructional strategies don’t quite fit my teaching mode because of the fundamental differences between a music classroom and core content classrooms. But I quickly realized that CarolinaTIP was not just about refining my teaching skills. It was about building relationships and empowering me to build relationships with my students. Did we create classroom management plans? Yes. Did Nicole sit down with me personally to wrestle with how to better pace my sixth grade instruction? Absolutely. But CarolinaTIP did this in a way that made me feel valued in my profession. Their feedback and consideration was rooted in experience and above all else, their belief in the value of relationships.

I survived that entire first year in the classroom (and the following three)! Throughout every year there are tears and regrets, lessons learned, and tweaks made. But one thing remains the same — the importance of relationships. Something I like to tell my students is, “I’m on your team, no matter what.” I want my students to know that above all else, I support them and am invested in their goals, hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Do I want them to play their notes in measure 57 in tune? Yes. But even before the music making begins, I want them to know that I care.

So as the 2021 school year begins and I approach another year riddled with uncertainty, I can lean on the relationships I have with my mentors, colleagues, CarolinaTIP coaches, and my students. I look forward to making music in the classroom again, but more importantly, I look forward to continuing to get to know the familiar and new faces that enter the orchestra room this fall.


When does the magic happen?

by Carrie Trivedi                                                                                                                                                                Lead Behavior Specialist for Mix-EC: Multi Systems Inclusion Expansion in Early Childhood, University of South Carolina

Blue dress with white stripes. White cardigan. New sandals with sparkling jewels. I knew I couldn’t wear my normal everyday attire of jeans and flip flops. I was meeting the teachers and district personnel that I would be working with in my new position as a 4K Behavior Coach for School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties in Irmo, South Carolina. The district had launched implementation of the Pyramid Model with Dr. Kate Ascetta from the University of South Carolina as part of the Professional Development School District work. This led to the creation of a new position for a coach that would support classroom teachers as they began putting the Pyramid Model into practice in classrooms.  

This is where I enter the story.  

The teachers and district personnel were being trained on a tool used to measure the implementation of Pyramid Model practices in preschool classrooms. I was told that teachers had a year of Pyramid Model learning under their belt and the district was ready to hit the ground running. I was looking forward to rich conversations during the training about how the practices might take shape in their classrooms. I was also eager to help talk through any problem scenarios that may arise while planning.  

The training was taking place at the middle school I attended. Memories came flooding back as I walked from the front office toward the cafeteria to the elevator at the bottom floor. As a student, I didn’t even know the school had an elevator. The closer I got to the room, the more nervous I became. Just like the trainer, I would not know anyone in the room. I took a deep breath and walked in. I saw one familiar face, the trainer, my coach from the University of Florida, and immediately felt a sense of relief.  

As the training began, we went around the room and introduced ourselves. It was overwhelming trying to keep the names, faces, and schools together. When it was my turn to introduce myself, I thought everyone would look excited to meet me. After all, we were about to embark on an incredible journey, learning and growing together.

I did not receive the warm reception I anticipated. I was greeted with a mix of blank and angry stares. I would come to understand the reasons for this reception later in the school year.

As the morning progressed and the trainer unpacked the key practices that were part of the observation, the mood in the room was shifting. The jovial side conversations stopped. They were replaced with whispered comments, frowns, and confused looks. I scanned the room and realized that every table had fallen quiet and looked as though they were hearing this information for the first time. When we broke for lunch, the trainer and I left together. I looked across the table and asked, “Do you get the feeling that the teachers are acting like they do not know what the Pyramid Model is or what the TPOT is used for?” “You’ve got your work cut out for you,” was the trainer’s response.  This was the beginning of a hard year full of hurdles and roadblocks. One of the hardest days was when two teachers had a conversation about how stupid this was and claimed they would just keep doing whatever they wanted to do regardless of what that coach or the district says.

That coach was me. 

As the year progressed, I began to understand the source of the negative feelings. The message about the Pyramid Model and the coaching that we would be doing was announced to principals, who were then charged with disseminating that information to their 4K teachers.  Each school’s administrator heard the message differently and shared the message differently with teachers.  

We ended up with 12 teachers all thinking different things were going to happen, one coach thinking the teachers were much further down the road in their knowledge of the Pyramid Model, and a group of district personnel who were unaware that the lack of clarity and communication directly with teachers was causing the vision of Pyramid Model implementation to crack.

I knew my initial plan was not going to work. I needed to reevaluate everything. I felt the only way to “fix” things was to go back to the beginning and restart.  Restarts are not easy because usually the damage has already been done during the initial start. I was hoping that the damage was minimal.

I was wrong... again.

Teachers were frustrated that they were being 'evaluated' on their implementation of practices they felt they did not even know... I decided I needed to take the focus off of the observation tool and start focusing solely on the teaching practices that were important to the teachers to implement.

Teachers were frustrated that they were being 'evaluated' on their implementation of practices they felt they did not even know. Many attempts were made to emphasize that the observation tool was not an evaluation but an observation geared toward two things: guiding myself to know how to provide the best support to teachers in growth areas, and guiding professional development efforts in the district based on areas of improvement districtwide. But the only thing teachers saw was that there was a score at the end and anything less than perfection was not acceptable. The score was becoming the focus for everyone, when in reality the focus needed to be on teaching practices.  

I decided I needed to take the focus off of the observation tool and focus solely on the teaching practices that were important to teachers. In doing this, we started building relationships and talking more openly. The teachers began to see I was there to support their needs, not coming in to tell them what they needed to be doing instead. Teachers started identifying areas in their classroom where Pyramid Model practices might accelerate learning, and together, we worked toward implementation.  

During this time, teachers opened up. One group of teachers said they were led to believe this was strictly a parenting program and that my role was to help facilitate incorporating the parenting program into the overall 4K program. One group of teachers was told that I was coming to evaluate the children’s behavior and “fix” it. One teacher even said “I did not know you were coming to watch me. I thought you were here to watch the kids. I feel like I was lied to.” 

It all started to make sense. From the top, they believed that the message was delivered clearly about what was going to happen. In actuality it became a game of telephone, where one person whispers the phrase and the message shifts as it travels down the chain of listeners. Without fail, the message is always extremely different from the first person to the last.   

It became evident that in order for this process to work, we needed to start communicating directly with teachers. We needed to be as clear as possible about our ideas and the vision for implementation.

It became evident that in order for this process to work, we needed to start communicating directly with teachers. We needed to be as clear as possible about our ideas and the vision for implementation.

We asked for more teacher input and we consulted groups of teachers about ideas to get a feel for what they thought before introducing ideas to the whole group. I started highlighting the great things that were already happening in classrooms around Pyramid Model practices and giving weekly shoutouts to each teacher, which included their administrators, so they could see their hard work and celebrate together. We started having more meetings with administrators, openly sharing the information that teachers were hearing and discussing how it would look in the classroom when teachers were engaging in the teaching practices. It began to feel like a team effort, where everyone was finally on the same page, in the same chapter, in the same book.  

Then, it happened. A teacher ran up to me when I came to her classroom -- ecstatic! 

She had been working with students on the steps of problem solving using the solution kit to address common social problems. She read a scripted story with her class, introduced the solutions and what each would look like in action, and set up an area in her classroom where students could find materials when they needed them. This took about a month to put in place. We worked together to get the materials ready and I coached her through introducing the story and solutions, providing side by side support as she modeled for students.  

One of her students struggled with sharing toys with her classmates. She would regularly lash out when she wanted a toy that was not available. The day before I came, she wanted to play with some of the materials in the house area that were already being used by another child.  She stood in the house area for a moment, watching the other child. Instead of lashing out, screaming and ripping the toys away, she walked over to the problem solving steps. She looked intently at the pictures, then picked up the solution kit. She flipped through the pictures and stopped on one. She walked over to the teacher and showed her “Get A Timer.”  She said, “I want to play with those toys but someone is using them. Can we set a timer so I can have a turn?”

I was just as ecstatic as the classroom teacher. I was even more ecstatic when I got to see several of her students using the problem solving steps and solutions kit throughout the day.  They were doing it! And the teacher was noticing positive changes in her students as they became more proficient in using the language and solutions. She thanked me at the end of the day. But I reminded her she was responsible for the successful implementation and I was just there to support her along the journey.  

In the beginning, as teacher leaders and administrators, we were laying tracks without looking at where the train was going and the final destination. Now, we are moving along together with a shared understanding of the purpose of implementing Pyramid Model practices, which has led to an increase in teacher buy-in. 

Today, teachers are asking questions, seeking out support, and implementing the teaching practices on a more consistent basis. One teacher stopped someone from the district and said that she has been working to increase the positive descriptive feedback she gives her children during center time. She shared that student engagement has never been better.

When teachers buy in, that’s when the magic happens. 

 

This story is published as part of a storytelling retreat hosted by the Center for Educational Partnerships (CEP) housed in the University of South Carolina's College of Education. CEP partners nominated practicing educators, administrators, and system leaders to share their stories. The Center for Teaching Quality, a CEP partner, facilitated the retreat and provided editorial and publication support. Learn more about this work and read additional stories by following @CEP_UofSC and @teachingquality.


The Relationship Between Poverty and School Performance

ABSTRACT

Poverty shapes the experience of more than twelve million children in the United States. To further an understanding of the relationship between poverty and school performance in South Carolina public schools, we investigated the association of high and low poverty levels with a range of state report card variables for three school levels: elementary, middle, and high schools. In this study, we considered variables in four categories: academic achievement/outcomes, student engagement, classroom environment, and student safety. An analysis of 1163 public schools in 88 school districts and state-operated programs revealed that for different school levels, significant differences by poverty level exist in these categories. We conclude with recommendations for policymaking, intervention programs, and funding opportunities to support high-poverty schools, and ultimately aiming to narrow the gaps of school performance due to poverty.


Carolina Transition to Teaching: We’re Better Together

The Carolina Transition to Teaching Program, funded through a US DoE Teacher Quality Partnership grant, is a 14-month residency graduate program designed for professionals who hold an undergraduate degree in a field other than education. While pursuing their Master of Education in Teaching in the College of Education at the University of South Carolina, Transition to Teaching residents are supported by university and district coaches as they experience the life of a teacher through year-long placements within schools in rural communities in South Carolina.

by Kristin Mumford, Resident Teacher, Northside Elementary School, Colleton County School District

“Wherever we go, whatever we do

We’re gonna go through it together

We may not go far, bur sure as a star

Wherever we are, it’s together.”

(“Together Wherever We Go,” Songwriters: Julie Styne/Stephen Sondheim, from the musical play Gypsy)

“Let’s do this together,” Amy said, “We can work on it together and we can be teachers together!” My decision to pursue a career in education was instantly reignited after some 30 years laying dormant. Dormant in the box of things that I wanted to do for myself. The opportunity presented itself in one word: together. A word I learned to spell in third grade: to-get-her. One of my teachers, Mrs. Mathis, impacted me as a learner in ways I would not realize for many years to come. A teacher who recognized me as smart, instead of as just a pretty little girl.

Whom might I impact?

I was working in what I thought was my dream job. A position in my degree area (finally!) after some 28 years of retail management. But I was isolated in my office in April of 2020 during COVID 19--no family, no retirement plan, 52, and alone.

The word together resonated. I wanted to be part of something that had a larger purpose. So, I applied to the Carolina Transition to Teaching Program. I imagined my transcripts buried in a basement at the College of Charleston. I waited, and my friend Amy, who I was hoping to do this “together” with, continued to repeatedly email the representative to ensure we had all the required information complete for our application.

Then we received the news. We were accepted! We were beginning our journey to become teachers, together, and receive our master’s degree from the University of SC. When we successfully completed the program, we would receive a position as a teacher with either the Colleton County School Districtor the Orangeburg School District, together.

Our next step was to meet the rest of our cohort, professors, and the other residents in the program. Due to COVID-19 we began our process together virtually in July of 2020. My first day of summer institute I was extremely nervous. I was the only resident out of 15 who had never worked in a school setting. I remember thinking: what have I done? I’m definitely not ready to give up my current job as an Executive Director just yet. But here I was together in a virtual classroom, one of 18 boxes on the computer screen. My journey personified what it is to transition to teaching.

Within three days of the summer institute I realized my value: I was already a leader, I was accustomed to accomplishing goals, and I had experience in dealing with customers and employees (that could transfer to building relationships with families and colleagues). I drew many parallels between my current work and my future work. I realized that while I needed to learn the process of how to be a teacher, my skill set was strong. We learned our cohort will be together for the better part of three years even though the program itself is 15 months. Together we will achieve the goal of transitioning to teaching. Together we will support each other in the Praxis and certification process. Together we will support each other in the classroom. We will learn with our co-teachers and our students together. I was not alone.

Together we will support each other in the classroom. We will learn with our co-teachers and our students together. I was not alone.

As part of our coursework in the Fall of 2020, two other residents and I were assigned an inquiry research project. The three were already in the same elementary school and we were able to meet, collaborate, and divide the tasks associated with our class project for our Masters Degree. During the day we met to discuss our research, compare notes, and complete our research project, together. Throughout this cohort our ability to ask for help from professors, advisors, peers, and co-teachers has been a real asset in navigating these unchartered territories.

Together we helped each other learn to teach virtually. Together we developed computer skills and proficiency in new tools.

The opportunity to achieve a Masters Degree in Education while being immersed in the classroom at the same time has given me a real life glimpse at what my own classroom will look like in the Fall of 2021. I will be able to apply the skills I have learned not only in my coursework, but also the real life scenarios that I have been able to be a part of in the classroom. In the beginning of the school year the classroom reminded me of a laboratory. Just like in Chemistry, I am learning the “pedagogy” (a teacher word) of teaching and then exercising it in the classroom the next day. We are able to experiment with the strategies we are learning in our coursework and practice these strategies in real-time. This environment allows aspiring teachers to gain meaningful experience in a classroom without being alone; my co-teacher serves as a “lab partner.” Many times when I am teaching, I turn to my co-teacher and receive coaching in the moment. This type of coaching is valuable because it provides a safe and supportive environment in which to take risks and try new things. Also, this type of “in the moment” coaching can provide feedback that can be received and applied immediately. The co-teaching model allows me to learn and observe together with the classroom teacher and the students. The students in the classroom play a vital role in the learning experience that is Carolina Transition to Teaching. And the school administration treats us as a part of the team, which is a valuable skill set to learn as a new teacher. I feel confident being assigned to any elementary school in the Fall of 2021 knowing l have a solid skill set to navigate my first year as a teacher.

If you are looking to fulfill a dream and launch a career in teaching but aren’t sure how to get there…you do not have to do it alone.

If you are looking to fulfill a dream and launch a career in teaching but aren’t sure how to get there…you do not have to do it alone.Through Carolina Transition to Teaching I have learned the art and science of teaching is something you cannot do alone. That is not how it works. It only works when teachers, students, parents, administrators, professors, advisors, mentor teachers, teacher assistants, custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and the entire school community do it…TOGETHER.

This story is published as part of a storytelling retreat hosted by the Center for Educational Partnerships (CEP) housed in the University of South Carolina's College of Education. CEP partners nominated practicing educators, administrators, and system leaders to share their stories. The Center for Teaching Quality, a CEP partner, facilitated the retreat and provided editorial and publication support. Learn more about this work and read additional stories by following @CEP_UofSC and @teachingquality.


Teaching During a Pandemic: Initial Insights from SC Teachers

Teaching During a Pandemic: Initial Insights from SC Teachers


Teacher Retention in South Carolina: Exploring School-Level Factors

Teacher Retention in South Carolina: Exploring School-Level Factors


The Relationship Between Poverty and School Performance in South Carolina

The Relationship Between Poverty and School Performance in South Carolina


Exploring the Uniformity of South Carolina Teacher Vacancies

Analyses were conducted on teacher vacancies at the start of the 2020-21 school year in SC school districts using data from the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA) and district demographic information from public data files prepared by the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE). Results of these analyses provide a descriptive profile of the teacher vacancies from these data sets. An analysis was also conducted to examine the relationship between teacher vacancy rates and student achievement using data from SC’s School Report Cards.


Takes One to Know One: How Empathy Made Me a Better Teacher

by Demetrius Williams 
Computer Lab Aide at North Springs Elementary

Have you ever had that dream that you were falling and couldn’t stop? That you had no control over what was coming next, and all you could do was hope for the best? I have. I’ve experienced this very sensation – while awake in a classroom.

In the summer of 2019, about 40 educators, including myself, gathered to map out strategies for student support and engagement for the 2019-2020 school year. To be one in the room was truly an honor for me. I was an instructional aide who had managed classes independently for four years. Yet, I sat there ignorant and afraid. I felt small in this incredibly large classroom of experienced educators. 

In this room breathed hundreds of years of combined experience. In this room, fast-paced conversation spanning learning objectives and assessments (or alphabet soup to me) flew easily among colleagues. They may as well have been speaking a foreign language. I was mortified. I was afraid to ask questions for fear of using the wrong words and embarrassing myself in front of my peers. I was afraid to confirm what I assumed everyone in the room was already thinking: that I didn’t belong there. I wanted so much to be there. As independent as I had become, I was still aware of how indecision, anxiety, and fear plagued my twenties. A career path had seemed elusive until now. Here, I had finally found a place where I enjoyed working 40 hours a week – or so I thought. In that space on that warm June morning, I was no longer sure I had what it took to take on such meaningful, important work.

Like so many paraprofessionals, I had to decide: would I continue on my path as an instructional assistant, or would I work to earn a teaching certificate?

Like so many paraprofessionals, I had to decide: would I continue on my path as an instructional assistant, or would I work to earn a teaching certificate? 

God knows I would welcome an increase in pay! But enrolling in a second Master’s program in my late thirties with a husband at home and two children to raise was a risk I had never imagined I’d be taking. How would we ever recover from all the student loan debt? What if I failed? Did I truly have what it takes to be a real teacher? Who would grocery shop, cook dinner, and make sure the girls had matching socks? I was overwhelmed with anxiety about the effect my decision could have on my family. But I was grieved at the thought of facing a future full of regret. In the end, my passion for learning got the better of me, and I’m so glad it did.

In the spring of 2020 – in the midst of a global pandemic no less – I took the leap and enrolled in an online Master’s program. Through a district partnership, I was afforded the opportunity to move toward certification, even with my busy schedule. I am in my tenth course right now – the home stretch. 

I can feel my confidence growing as I learn the language of pedagogy. Now, I am self-assessing almost obsessively, mentally tracking data daily as I take account of every teaching success and failure throughout the workday. Opportunities abound thanks to my administrators’ belief that a job title has no bearing on an individual’s potential. 

Because North Springs Elementary is a PDS school, our school community has access to anti-racist curricula and culturally relevant resources. This is significant, as something as simple as seeing one’s own culture represented in a storybook can build children’s confidence in ways some people can only imagine. It can be challenging for students of color to find motivation to read if they cannot relate to the stories being told. Research shows that picture books can prompt meaningful conversations about real-life situations. Our diverse population of students is able to relate to content because our educators are being trained to make the curriculum culturally relevant. Through professional development, personal storytelling, community building, and investment in resources, the Center for Educational Partnerships at UofSC is positively influencing a new generation of scholars who will enjoy learning because they can see how knowledge can impact their lives. They can see the big picture – and they’re in it!

In years past, I saw my age and excessive job history as cringeworthy. Now, I celebrate that seemingly haphazard past. My vulnerabilities have fostered in me an empathy for the child who seeks to understand but instead finds a struggle. I know that struggle. I also know there is something beautiful waiting on the other side of that struggle. 

My vulnerabilities have fostered in me an empathy for the child who seeks to understand but instead finds a struggle. I know that struggle. I also know there is something beautiful waiting on the other side of that struggle. 

As an educator, it is my responsibility to guide my students to the other side, encouraging them to value their own voices and talents as tools for the journey. I feel connected to students in a more meaningful way. I’ve been exactly where they are. I have sat in a room full of people and felt like everyone was singing a song I had never heard before. I have politely clapped along, hoping no one would notice. I now recognize that trepidation in my students. I am equipped to help them catch the rhythm of learning because I myself am catching the beat. The only differences between us are time and opportunity, two things there are plenty of when educators become advocates for their students. 

This is the privilege and honor of teaching.


This story is published as part of a storytelling retreat hosted by the Center for Educational Partnerships (CEP) housed in the University of South Carolina’s College of Education. CEP partners nominated practicing educators, administrators, and system leaders to share their stories. The Center for Teaching Quality, a CEP partner, facilitated the retreat and provided editorial and publication support. Learn more about this work and read additional stories by following @CEP_UofSC and @teachingquality.


Retaining Teachers through Talent Centered Education Leadership

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 exacerbated pre-existing teacher staffing challenges across schools in the U.S., where escalating work-related uncertainty, stress, scrutiny, and safety concerns have resulted in elevated dissatisfaction with the education profession (Tran, Hardie & Cunningham, 2020). Even before the onset of COVID-19, the decline in enrollment in teacher education programs coupled with rising teacher turnover (CERRA, 2019) have resulted in what some are calling the “teacher shortage crisis” in South Carolina (Thomas, 2018) and across the nation (National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 2003). This report discusses why teacher shortages matter, the policy initiatives that have been employed in response, the salience of administrative support for teacher retention, and how a new paradigm in education human resources management – known as Talent Centered Education Leadership (TCEL) – can optimally leverage administrative support to its full capacity. The report then addresses what types of administrative supports matter for teacher retention and shares preliminary results from a study examining the relative importance of 13 administrative supports frequently identified in the literature. The paper concludes with recommendations for improving the provision of those types of supports; it also links the supports, as well as teacher shortages, to the often-neglected problem of principal turnover.