It’s a Win Win! New Teacher PD Induction Programs Are Great for Teachers and for Students
August 23, 2018
Many factors impact students’ achievement, but nothing matters more than their teachers. Educational research has consistently validated the importance of what teachers do and say in the classroom. Teacher qualifications and competencies are more important than class size, curriculum materials, and class composition. It makes sense, then, for school districts and leaders to maintain a high-quality pipeline of teachers, beginning with new teachers. Professional development induction programs are essential.
Why Induction Programs?
The first few years of teaching can be very stressful as beginning teachers learn policies and procedures, deal with fatigue, and figure how to plan and prepare effective instruction. In addition, teachers often face challenges specific to their own students and classrooms. To help new teachers deal with these and other stressors, while assisting with their professional growth and encouraging them to remain in the profession, districts should make significant efforts to provide meaningful support. This support is not only in the best interest of the teachers, but of students as well.
What Should New Teacher Induction Look Like?
There are several common approaches to supporting teachers new to the profession, including two that are most common: Mentoring and Induction. Mentoring by a more experienced teacher can provide support and guidance to new teachers but these programs are limited because they involve only the actions of two individuals who often have time restraints. Induction programs are different from mentoring, although mentoring can be a component of an induction program. New teacher induction programs are comprehensive professional development programs specifically designed to support and retain new teachers while guiding them to grow into effective educators.
Wong (2004) suggested that induction programs should be comprehensive and well planned and that districts should:
- Invest in a comprehensive and sustained program.
- Provide multiple support personnel.
- Treat induction as part of a lifelong professional development system.
- Articulate a vision and align content to academic standards.
Can Professional Learning Communities Be Part of Induction Programs?
One of the key findings of research related to new teacher induction and support is that collaboration with other teachers is powerful. Rather than old models of organization which relegated teachers to their individual classrooms, collaboration and teaming are recognized as critical in today’s educational environments. The power of group contributions and recognition as well as the support and respect in professional learning communities are especially important to new teachers. Treating all colleagues as valued peers and creating a collegial environment are key to ensuring teachers’ continued satisfaction. (Johnson & Birkeland, 2003).
How Can Districts Establish Effective Induction Programs?
To be successful, induction programs should be multi-year programs, not one-offs, and should align with the vision of the school district. According to Wong (2004, p.48), successful induction programs:
- Begin with an initial 4 or 5 days of induction before the school year starts.
- Offer a continuum of professional development over the course of two to three years.
- Provide study or collaboration groups so that new teachers can network and a professional learning community.
- Incorporate strong administrative support.
- Integrate a mentoring component into the process.
- Present a structure of modeling effective practices.
- Provide opportunities for inductees to visit demonstration classrooms.
While schools and districts may not have the time or the resources to provide all of the components Wong suggests, there are some ways to develop a model that is effective. Stansbury and Zimmerman (2000) suggest that districts prioritize providing time for support activities, with financial remuneration when possible; getting resources to struggling teachers; and aligning evaluation criteria to the support that beginning teachers receive. Technology can help with these activities by providing online learning opportunities like micro-credentials, virtual coaching, and tools for sharing resources and ideas through social media, chat rooms, and blogs.
If schools are to stop the “brain drain” in education, find the best and brightest teachers available, and support them so that they stay in the profession, new teacher induction programs must receive attention, value, and resources. These activities have the added advantage of impacting student achievement as well. When teachers master instruction, students master learning. It’s a win win!
To read more about targeting micro-credentials for new teachers (or any other specific groups), here is a recent blog post:
Resources for This Post
Johnson, S. & Birkeland, S. (2003). Pursuing a sense of success: new teachers explain their career decisions. American Educational Research Journal. 40 (3), 581-617.
Wong, H.K. (2004) Induction programs that keep new teachers teaching and improving. NASSP Bulletin. 88 (638) 41-58.
Stansbury, K. & Zimmerman, J. (2000) Designing support for beginning teachers. WestED knowledge brief.