Teacher Induction in Catholic Schools

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to examine the induction process for beginning teachers in Catholic schools. Data were collected from 100 teachers using a survey that addressed teachers' level of confidence in the pedagogical, religious, and managerial dimensions of teaching. The results of the study indicated that the induction experiences of beginning teachers in Catholic schools were similar to those of beginning teachers elsewhere. However, there is a need for the development and implementation of a systematic process of teacher induction that consciously meets the needs in the religious dimension for beginning teachers.

INTRODUCTION

Entering the teaching profession is marked by an initial period of challenges and opportunities for both new teachers and the jurisdiction that hired them. How school, diocesan, and school district personnel respond to these challenges and opportunities can have long-lasting effects on the teachers' ability to teach effectively (Robinson, 1998). It is through this concerted effort by teachers and others that a new teacher will not just survive the first years, but will establish the foundation for an effective teaching career.

Beginning teachers experience many challenges as they embark upon their new career. They must learn the culture of their new workplace (Brock & Grady, 1997; Schlechty, 1985), and transfer their teaching knowledge gained through teacher preparation into practice in the classroom (Weiss, 1999). They must grapple with professional issues such as student discipline, classroom management, student assessment, and parent involvement, and deal with individual differences and mainstreamed students (Brock & Grady, 1998; Veenman, 1984). In principle, schools and school leaders need to view the induction period for new teachers as opportunities to help them become competent and effective teachers, as well as to help retain them in the profession. Within the first 5 years, 30% to 40% of beginning teachers leave the profession (Punshon, 1996). Systematic, well-planned induction programs in the beginning years of teaching may be one way to develop and retain new teachers.

Although there are differing definitions and conceptions of induction, for the purpose of this study induction is defined as the stage in the career cycle of a teacher that begins when a teacher starts his or her career and may continue until the teacher becomes professionally competent (Huling-Austin, 1992). During this period, beginning teachers improve their effectiveness in the classroom, become socialized into the culture of the school, and work through many challenges associated with the demands of teaching. These dimensions of teaching are often categorized as the pedagogical (teaching, learning) dimension and the managerial (organizational, classroom management) dimension.

Induction literature has employed a variety of research methods designed to understand the complex induction process. Veenman (1984) conducted a meta-analysis of existing research spanning the years of 1960 to 1984. Of the 83 studies examined, most studies employed a questionnaire that used the rating scale method with respondents rating the degree to which a problem was encountered using a point scale. The next most common method was interviews followed by studies using both a questionnaire and an interview. Since Veenman's study, researchers have continued to employ similar methods. Studies report using surveys that have participants rate their perceptions (Scott, 1997; Varah, Theune, & Parker, 1986), rank sources of support received (Brock, 1988; Odell, 1986), as well as conduct individual interviews and focus groups (Hoffman, Edwards, O'Neal, Barnes, & Paulissen, 1986; Varah et al., 1986). Others have used various teacher effectiveness observation templates designed to measure teacher effectiveness and thus induction programming effectiveness (Colbert & Wolff, 1992; Hoffman et al. …