How Teacher Induction Programs Set Teachers Up for Success

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In a scene all too common in today’s schools, new teachers are being thrown into unfamiliar environments, feeling isolated and alone. This environment can be made worse by a lack of structure from the administration, with no one showing these teachers the ropes. This scenario often creates a culture of stressed teachers and chaotic classrooms by not offering the continued education and support teachers need at the start of their careers. So how do we prepare new teachers to better handle the immense challenges before them? One solution lies in teacher induction programs.

Many school district leaders may have already witnessed the power of teacher induction programs. Most California school districts, for example, require this type of program, where teachers receive extra coaching, training, and observation within their first two years of teaching. These programs have done wonders in teacher retention, and it’s worth spreading this model to school districts across the country.

The Challenges New Teachers Face

Inexperienced, untested new educators face a number of challenges unique to their position.

For one, few new teachers begin their teaching with a clear, effectively outlined operational curriculum they can use to start teaching. Instead, they’re left to fend for themselves to develop a year's worth of units and lesson plans in what little time they have after school and during planning periods, without proper training, know-how, or support. Even worse is that few teachers receive ready-made curriculums that are aligned with state standards.

Secondly, schools spend a lot of money each year recruiting new teachers but spend next to nothing in the way of developing their new hires into effective educators, which reduces constant teacher turnover. Indeed, 56% of new teachers have reported that no extra assistance was available to them as new teachers, with less than 1% of beginning teachers receiving comprehensive induction, leaving them alone and without help in a stressful and uncertain educational environment.

Finally, even when a teacher is provided with a mentor to help guide them through the early stages of their teaching career, only 17% out of the 87% of new teachers with a mentor say that their mentor has ever observed them teaching. Without actually watching new teacher performance, the effectiveness of teacher mentoring is almost completely negated.

Teacher Induction - Encouraging Educator Success

With all of these challenges confronting new teachers, there has to be an efficient, effective way to encourage and support new teachers and help them stay and thrive in their new jobs. This is where teacher induction comes in. As Annette Breaux and Harry Wong state in their seminal book on the subject, New Teacher Induction, "An induction process is the best way to send a message to your teachers that you value them and want them to succeed and stay." Teacher induction is not simply pairing up new teachers with a mentor. It’s a comprehensive, logically-structured, years-long development program that provides teachers with ongoing support and guidance during their critical first few years of teaching.

Studies show that it takes 4-5 years for a new teacher to become effective, and teacher induction programs are the best way to do this. So what is it about these programs that makes them so effective?

Here are the key elements behind teacher induction programs:

  • Continual professional development for two or more years (under the guidance of a dedicated mentor)

  • The opportunity to tour demonstration classrooms to observe best practices

  • Strong participation and support from the school administration

  • A coaching component emphasizing high leverage, bite-sized feedback   

  • A formative assessment program to gauge new teacher’s abilities and formalize the development of key skills for classroom success

Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, recently stated, “...What managers can do is not develop elaborate incentive schemes, but help people recognize their progress, shine a light on that progress, recognize it in front of other people, celebrate that progress, help people stay on a path toward making progress.” Essentially, teacher induction programs help to incentivize teachers by helping them grow and develop as professionals.

After reading this, it becomes clear that, with such a strong emphasis on continual professional development throughout the crucial early years of a teacher’s career, teacher induction programs offer the best way to set new teachers up for success and build a strong foundation that continues to build on this success well into the future.

Make Your Teacher Induction Program Data-Driven Today

Ready to get your new teachers on the fast-track to success in the classroom? Contact Whetstone Education and let us guide you through all the options available to digitally manage teacher induction and instructional coaching today.