Content

By Lori Bird

Learning to teach is a lifelong process that begins during preservice and continues throughout a teaching career (Brock & Grady, 2006). Although most induction programs set the professional norms, attitudes, and standards for teachers who are new to the profession, more-effective programs promote classroom instruction that raises the levels of student achievement in the classrooms of novices and veterans alike. Comprehensive induction programs include such essential components as program vision, institutional commitment and support, quality mentoring, professional teaching standards, and classroom-based teacher learning (Moir & Gless, 2001). All components must be implemented collectively to promote inquiry into the practice of teaching and ensure career-long growth. The descriptions below offer goals, indicators, and sources of evidence that can be used to identify each component in an ongoing school induction program.

Program Vision

Quality induction consists of a highly organized and comprehensive staff development process involving many elements, such as orientation activities, workshops, classroom observations, peer support activities, professional development action plans, and portfolio development (Sweeney, 2008). School leaders create a well-defined vision of teaching and learning that becomes the focus of the professional development experience, and the induction program helps teachers and students realize the vision. This vision must include a new image of the successful teacher, one whose leadership capacity is developed from the moment he or she enters the classroom. Comprehensive induction programs have a clearly articulated purpose and a formal process for training, supporting, and retaining the most qualified professionals. Participation in comprehensive induction programs is sustained for a period of two to five years, but also continues as part of a teacher’s professional development throughout his or her career.

Goal Description

Possible Indicators

Sources of Evidence

The induction program’s mission statement confirms the stakeholders’ vision of the program.

The mission statement is articulated to all stakeholders and is reviewed and revised as necessary.

The mission statement is visible on all distributed materials.

The induction program has established goals that focus on teaching and learning.

Goals are developed from the perspectives of all stakeholders.

Stakeholder survey results indicate the degree of goal attainment.

The induction program has identified roles and responsibilities for all of its participants.

Expectations are clearly defined and can be articulated by all program participants.

Responsibilities are articulated in job descriptions and are addressed in performance review conversations.

New and veteran educators feel valued as members of the school and community.

Experienced teachers who serve as mentors receive stipends for fulfilling the role. Planned events and other forms of recognition are provided for educators.

Stipends are paid. Participants attend appreciation events.
School leaders provide recognition in district communications and/or at board meetings.

The induction program is evaluated regularly.

Evaluation results are used to define program improvements and justify continued resource allocation.

Attendance, assessment data, and program impact statements are obtained through stakeholder surveys.

Institutional Commitment and Support

When this component is implemented well, schools and districts provide adequate resources and focus attention on the needs of the teachers. Professional development becomes a culture and is embraced districtwide. The principal plays a central role in establishing faculty norms and facilitating interaction among teachers with various levels of experience (Heller, 2004). He or she is present and involved in induction activities, and this participation assures teachers that they are valued and supported.

Universities also have a stake in the success of the new teacher, and in the richest school-university partnerships, the traditional lines that separate preservice preparation from school-based practice are becoming blurred (Bartell, 2005). The collaborative induction process creates seamless support for the newest professionals because university faculty, school district mentors, and teaching staff participate in professional development activities with the university’s teacher candidates. This kind of commitment from both institutions substantiates teacher learning as a high priority.

Goal Description

Possible Indicators

Sources of Evidence

Districtwide support is shown for comprehensive induction. Stakeholder groups are involved in program development.

Stakeholder groups allocate fiscal and human resources to the implementation of the program.

Budget line items include released time and/or compensation for out-of-contract work.
Annual reports include a review of program results and anecdotal information from program participants and supporters.

The induction program has a communication plan that identifies how the program impacts student learning and teacher retention.

The plan outlines who is responsible, what result should be attained, and how the evidence will be shared with program stakeholders.

Impact statements from administration, staff, and other stakeholders pertain to teacher quality indicators and student performance data.

The induction program includes appropriately timed instructional support for new teachers as well as ongoing professional development.

Administrators provide time as well as human and fiscal resources for the induction program.

Administrators implement a welcoming process with informal visits during first week of school.
Log of professional development activities indicates use of release time and participation data.

Quality Mentoring

An essential ingredient of the effective induction program, the mentoring component requires careful selection, training, and ongoing support for mentors (Rowley, 1999). Supporting new teachers is highly complex and demanding work, so mentors should be veteran teachers who are highly regarded by their peers and who possess well-developed interpersonal skills. Experience with coaching, facilitating groups, and other collaborative activities also indicate that the mentor will be successful (Bartell, 2005).

The ideal mentor teachers understand the essential qualities they must exhibit in their role and can identify how they will carry out their mentoring tasks successfully. Along with the individual needs of the teacher being mentored, mentor training must focus on the pedagogy of mentoring and an understanding of teacher development, professional teaching standards, and strategies for classroom observation and coaching.

Goal Description

Possible Indicators

Sources of Evidence

The culture of mentoring is transmitted throughout the school and district.

Professional development opportunities are available for staff members other than mentors and new teachers.

Staff attendance data is maintained for all professional development activities.

The induction program selects high-performing veteran teachers as mentors. The selection is linked to such criteria as level of experience and teaching expertise.

Administrators encourage teachers to become mentors on the basis of their experience, content knowledge, and mentoring characteristics.

Mentor application processes, timelines, and selection criteria are shared. Application submission data is included in program review.

The induction program pairs a highly qualified mentor with each new staff member and teacher in transition.

Mentors and mentees have grade level, proximity, and/or content-area expertise in common. Strengths and/or style indicators are used to match mentors with mentees.

Needs assessments, strengths finder, and style delineator data are identified.

Survey data shows that match criteria were applied.

Mentors participate in ongoing induction training to develop mentoring competencies.

Mentors display skills and abilities such as supporting new teachers, curriculum development, instructional strategies, classroom management, reflective practice, and problem solving.

Training agendas, focus group summaries, log of mentor-mentee interactions, and presentation feedback are assessed. Evidence includes one-to-one meetings, mentor-mentee conferencing, cognitive coaching, monthly seminars, and professional growth plans.

Professional Teaching Standards

Professional teaching standards define a set of expectations and a common language for talking about excellence in teaching, serve as a basis for reflection, and specify what all teachers need to know and be able to do to enhance student learning (Bartell, 2005). Such standards must be clearly articulated and modeled throughout the school and district.

Ongoing formative assessment includes collaborative evaluations, formal and informal observations, analysis of student work according to content standards, and presentation of evidence of professional growth. Assessment tools, professional training opportunities, and teacher evaluation procedures that are closely tied to the standards will guide teachers’ learning and growth throughout their careers.

Goal Description

Possible Indicators

Sources of Evidence

The induction program positively affects teachers’ instructional practices. Professional teaching standards are the primary source of reference for teacher practice.

Classroom observation procedures and coaching practices are implemented. Standards are used as a basis for planning and reflecting. Teachers use reflection and self-assessment to develop professional growth plans.

Teachers produce self-assessment documents, action plans, and summaries of goal attainment.
Mentors produce observation data and coaching documents (with permission of the new teacher).
Participant survey results and district summative evaluation documents are aligned with the standards.

All staff members have access to professional development that improves practice according to professional standards in teaching.

Seminars challenge veteran teachers and beginning teachers at an appropriate level.
Sessions include orientation before school begins and continue throughout the year at frequent intervals.

Administrator interviews, staff surveys, veteran teacher portfolios, artifacts, and retention statistics are included in the annual induction program report.

Classroom-Based Teacher Learning

Teachers learn best in on-the-job situations and are motivated and encouraged by the achievements of their own students (Moir & Gless, 2001). Consistent inquiry into classroom practice with a focus on student learning is the most effective way for teachers to develop the ability to respond to the unique and diverse needs of the students, to make meaning of the various curricular frameworks, and to understand the grade-level expectations.

Research supports the use of classroom-based interactions using the mentoring-coaching model. Through reflection and dialogue about effective instruction, teachers gain a deeper insight into their craft and are better able to autonomously resolve problems that arise. At the same time, mentors and new teachers must understand and be confident that the information shared between them is not being used in an evaluative way (Rowley, 2006).

Topics for new teacher seminars held throughout the year are derived from the needs of the teachers, and might include classroom management, differentiating instruction, inclusion, teaching English learners, assessment, and conferencing with parents (Brock & Grady, 2006).

Goal Description

Possible Indicators

Sources of Evidence

There is a districtwide commitment to ensuring support of new and veteran teachers. The induction program responds to individual teachers through all stages of their professional career.

Each new teacher is paired with a mentor; they meet formally and informally to engage in a variety of planning, reflecting, and problem resolving activities.

Documentation of mentor–new teacher match is aligned with weekly contact logs, anecdotal notes, and survey feedback.

Classroom-based support is differentiated to meet the instructional as well as social-emotional needs of the individual teacher.

Mentors regularly observe new teachers and engage in coaching conversations that deepen the their capacity to analyze and make decisions. Mentor–new teacher interactions remain confidential.

Documentation includes classroom observation data, pre- and post-conference summaries, results of student work analysis, collaboratively designed lesson plans, journal entries, new-teacher and mentor survey results, and log of activity summaries.

Principals and mentors must work together to adequately orient teachers to their new schools, support them in their journey through the first years, and guide their professional development throughout their careers.

Comprehensive induction serves as a catalyst for changing and improving the teaching profession. Beyond a welcoming environment that places value on teachers’ entry into the school system, an induction program will have a significant impact on a district’s ability to keep the most highly qualified educators in the profession and ensure their success. PL

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References

  • Bartell, C. A. (2005). Cultivating high-quality teaching through induction and mentoring. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  • Brock, B., & Grady, M. (2006). Developing a teacher induction plan. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  • Moir, E., & Gless, J. (2001). Quality induction: An investment in teachers. Teacher Education Quarterly, 28, 109–114.
  • Heller, D. A. (2004). Teachers wanted: Attracting and retaining good teachers. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
  • Rowley, J. B. (1999). The good mentor. Educational Leadership, 56, 20–22.
  • Rowley, J. B. (2006). Becoming a high performance mentor: A guide to reflection and action. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
  • Sweeney, B. W. (2008). Leading the teacher induction and mentoring program. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

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Lori Bird (lori.bird@mnsu.edu) is the director of the Center for Mentoring and Induction at Minnesota State University.

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