«Induction Programs That Keep New Teachers Teaching and Improving Harry K. Wong This article features schools and school districts with successful ...»
• Only with a structured, sustained, multiyear induction program will a professional culture be created in which teachers thrive and grow throughout their careers, a critical element in reducing the exceedingly high rate of teacher attrition, resulting in quality teaching in all classrooms.
Charlotte Neill, assistant superintendent of personnel and director of the Carlsbad, New Mexico, New Teacher Induction Program, noted, We teach our teachers how to teach the required benchmarks and standards, manage the classroom environment, set appropriate procedures, and maximize instructional time. We are a very cohesive district and we want new staff to feel wanted, valued, and respected by the way we support them through the induction process. We want them to be comfortable to take the risks of trying new things and learning from their peers and their coaches.
In the 2001–2002 school year, Carlsbad hired 30 new teachers and lost only 1. The teachers are not only learning in the induction program, they are staying in Carlsbad.
NASSP Bulletin s Vol. 88 No. 638 March 2004 Kathryn Robbins, superintendent of the Leyden High Schools District 212, Franklin Park, IL, who directs the district’s induction program, says, “Our induction program has proved to be one of our best investments.
Every district should absolutely be doing it.” All the teachers attend Leyden University, an in-house, lifelong learning community. This program capitalizes on the fact that successful teachers stay in districts where administrators are visible, academic leaders.
Three-time winner of the National School of Excellence award, the Homewood-Flossmoor High School District, Flossmoor, IL, calls their sustained professional development plan Homewood-Flossmoor University, their euphemism for all the components that make up a lifelong, collaborative learning academy. Using the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory’s professional development plan, Professional Development: Learning From the Best (Hassel, 1999), administrators determine their professional
development needs with the following formula:
What are our student – What are our actual = What are our performances? learning gaps? student educational goals?
What staff skills are – What are our actual = Our professional needed to close staff skills? development needs student gaps?
The Homewood-Flossmoor High School District uses this model to formulate a clear plan of what kind of instructional practice they want to promote, from which they design a structure with a clear plan for improvement (Martin, 2003). They determine which leadership and instructional skills are needed to improve and then engage in sustained and continuous progress toward a performance goal over time. The Homewood-Flossmoor New Teacher Induction Program immediately transmits and acculturates the newly hired teachers into the educational goals, mission, and beliefs of the district (Wong, 2003c). The Homewood-Flossmoor new teacher retention rate has improved dramatically with the advent of an induction program.
They have improved from a loss of 64% of those hired in 1999 (many went to teach in other districts) to a zero net loss of those hired in 2002.
Thus, to acculturate new teachers into a school, the school or district
needs to ask:
• Is there a clear plan that includes a professional development needs assessment process?
• Is there a clear plan that includes professional development goals and the long-term plans of the school and district?
54 NASSP Bulletin s Vol. 88 No. 638 March 2004
• Is there a clear plan that includes professional development to build teacher skills that will result in student achievement?
• Does the professional development program build on the induction program?
Effective districts connect their teachers’ professional development to district goals and student needs. These goals and needs are formulated from collected data, and implemented to engage in practice that results in sustained and continuous progress for both teachers and students. These districts have a coherent and organized set of strategies and have a vision that guides instructional improvement. It is basic: students learn what they are taught; so, students will learn more if they are taught well. Thus, how well teachers are prepared to be effective in the classroom determines student achievement.
Belonging, a basic human need, translates into keeping skilled teachers when sustained, structured, intensive training programs are in place that prepare new teachers and renew veteran teachers for the rigor of the classroom. Induction programs provide that connection because they are structured around a learning community where new and veteran teachers are treated with respect and their contributions are valued.
Successful teachers, especially in hard-to-staff schools, must have strong leaders. Good teachers do not choose to remain at schools where principals perform poorly. Effective leadership means involving teachers in key instructional decisions and providing opportunities for teachers to learn from each other. Good teachers know that they must have colleagues who have similar standards and expectations. Accomplished teachers are more likely to choose to work in schools when there will be a “critical mass” of like-minded colleagues who share their commitment to student achievement and where the principal is the key to establishing this commitment to teacher improvement and student achievement. The bottom line is good teachers make the difference. Trained teachers are effective teachers. Districts that provide structured, sustained training for their teachers achieve what every school district seeks to achieve—improving student learning.
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