Book Reviews

Finders and Keepers: Helping New Teachers Survive and Thrive in Our Schools

by Susan Moore Johnson and The Project on the Next Generation of Teachers, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, Calif., 2004, 314 pp. with index, $17.95 softcover

With the quest to solve the ever-in-creasing attrition rate among novice teachers, authors Susan Moore Johnson, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and members of The Project on the Next Generation of Teachers (former teachers and current doctoral students studying administration and policy), chronicle the experiences of 10 Massachusetts teachers during their first and second years in the profession.

Finders and Keepers: Helping New Teachers Survive and Thrive in Our Schools explores the reasons for the high attrition rate by devoting each chapter to a topic. The book’s first part discusses teacher pay, school culture, school organization, curriculum, supplies and professional relationships.

The authors use the novice teachers’ experiences to highlight the disparity of resources, both financial and collegial, available to rookies. They illustrate the unique needs of inexperienced teachers and how they must be met to increase retention.

Later chapters on teacher hiring, induction and professional growth highlight best practices, yet do not offer any new solutions to the well-known dilemmas facing school districts.

Given the current shortage of quality teachers, Johnson and her colleagues remind the reader of the primary need of novice teachers — “[e]asy access to ongoing support from colleagues.” However, while common shortcomings are discussed, this book does not present any new methods for retaining quality teachers.

Reviewed by Edythe B. Austermuhl, superintendent, Deerfield Township School District, Rosenhayn, N.J.