Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Why Induction Matters

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Why Induction Matters

Article excerpt

Recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers are now viewed as important challenges for public education in the United States. Researchers predict national demands of up to 2 million teachers in the next few years due to a combination of increasing student enrollments, anticipated retirements, and high rates of teacher attrition (Darling-Hammond, Berry, Haselkorn, & Fideler, 1999; Oakes, Franke, Quartz, & Rogers, 2002). Recent reports further suggest that staffing needs may not be due to overall shortages of qualified teachers entering the profession but rather by large numbers of teachers migrating to other schools or leaving the profession altogether (Ingersoll, 2000, 2001, 2002). Ingersoll's (2001) analysis of the national Schools and Staffing Survey and Teacher Follow-Up Survey found that more than a third of beginning teachers leave the profession during the first 3 years, and almost half leave after 5 years.

Providing meaningful assimilation into the profession is one way school districts can retain novice teachers, but existing induction programs vary in their substance and quality. Although Darling-Hammond et al. (1999) reported that almost one half of new teachers engage in some kind of induction experience, many programs offer only superficial types of assistance such as district orientations, periodic workshops, or instruction in generic classroom management strategies (Gold, 1996). Moreover, some state-sponsored programs offer induction as an evaluation process that applies formulaic criteria for narrowly defined teaching behaviors to assess new teacher performances (Darling-Hammond et al., 1999).

Although other professions provide transitional assistance for new members (e.g., residents in medicine, interns in architecture, and associates in law), historically the education profession has ignored the support needs of its new recruits and has been described as "the profession that eats its young" (Halford, as cited in Renard, 1999, p. 227). As Darling-Hammond et al. (1999) noted in the following, other professions place importance on clinical preparation periods to guide novices in their responsibilities and the growing complexity of their work:

   In ... other professions, novices continue to hone
   their knowledge and skills under the watchful eyes
   of more knowledgeable and experienced practitioners.
   At the same time, the novices, fresh from
   their studies, bring the latest research and theoretical
   perspectives to bear on their practice, where it is
   shared and tested by novice and veteran practitioners

      The normative conditions of teaching are far from
   this utopian model. Traditionally new teachers have
   been expected to sink or swim with little support
   and guidance. (p. 216)

This kind of neglect can cause premature burnout as new recruits experience disillusionment and an inability to cope with the myriad daily pressures teaching presents (Gold, 1996). When new teachers experience a lack of support and poor working conditions, their commitments to stay in the profession weaken. New teachers need opportunities to collaborate with other teachers in professional communities, observe colleagues' classrooms, be observed by expert mentors, analyze their own practice, and network with other novice teachers (Darling-Hammond & Sclan, 1996; Elmore, 2002; Huling-Austin, 1992).

Studies indicate that some induction programs may positively influence retention. Odell and Ferraro's (1992) research on a New Mexico program reported 96% of its teachers still teaching after 4 years; the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF) also reported high retention rates of new teachers as a result of mentoring programs established in Ohio, New York, and Washington (NCTAF, 1996), findings supported by research on urban district induction programs and their impact on retention (Fideler & Haselkorn, 1999). …

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