Effects of Teacher Induction on Beginning Teachers' Teaching: A Critical Review of the Literature

Article excerpt

Since the early 1990s, scholars have advocated for beginning teacher support (Darling-Hammond, 1995; Feiman-Nemser & Parker, 1992; Huling-Austin, 1992). The establishment of national curriculum standards and federal legislation--namely, No Child Left Behind--created pressure to focus on beginning teachers' learning and the improvement of teaching quality. In response, states and school districts are moving the focus of teacher induction as socialization and emotional support (Feiman-Nemser, Schwille, Carver, & Yusko, 1998; Gold, 1996) to supporting learning consistent with national curriculum standards (Sweeny & DeBolt, 2000).

Underlying these responses is an assumption that a link exists among induction, beginning teachers' conceptions, teaching practice, and students' learning. In this review, we explore whether such a link is supported by the literature, and we suggest implications for research, policy, and practice.

CONCEPTIONS OF TEACHER INDUCTION AND LEARNING TO TEACH

Although learning to teach occurs in multiple stages of a teacher's career (Feiman-Nemser, 1983, 2001a), we focus on the teachers' first year because it is a crucial and problematic period for teachers. In fact, it has been found to shape teaching patterns and influence teacher retention (Ingersoll & Smith, 2004) and the influences of school context on teacher retention (Johnson & the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers, 2004). First-year teachers assume responsibilities similar to those of experienced teachers while learning their job with limited experience and preparation (Wildman, Niles, Magliaro, & McLaughlin, 1989), which results in attending to classroom management and procedures instead of learning how to teach well and improve student learning (Dewey, 1964; Kagan, 1992; Wideen, Mayer-Smith, & Moon, 1998). First-year teachers are encouraged to contextualize their subject and pedagogical preparation and concomitantly be members of a school community and adjust to its organization and culture (Griffin & Millers, 1987). How they are prepared to teach, which is often consistent with curriculum standards, is not always supported by their existing school cultures (Puk & Haines, 1999; Sykes & Bird, 1992).

In our review, we focus on the effects that teacher induction programs have on beginning teachers' teaching, instead of on how comfortable beginning teachers feel about and how well they are adjusting to their local contexts. Teacher induction programs have historically focused on the personal comfort levels of novices (Feiman-Nemser et al., 1998; Gold, 1996). Feeling comfortable does not necessarily lead to effective teaching and student learning (Anyon, 1981).

We recognize that a focus of many induction programs is that of helping novices adjust to the cultures of their schools (Huling-Austin, 1992), but simply adjusting to the existing context does not automatically lead one to be an effective teacher (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999). As Wang and Odell (2003) showed, two interns developed strikingly different ways to adjust to a context, which led to different teaching and different consequences for students' learning even when offered opportunities to follow their own agendas in the same classroom, working with the same mentors.

We also examined the effects of formally structured components of teacher induction on beginning teachers given that conceptually based induction programs that focus on support for learning to teach are rare (Feiman-Nemser, 2001a), as are studies on program effects. These components include teacher mentoring relationships, which are a major supporting structure for beginning teachers in induction programs (Odell & Huling, 2000); different kinds of collaboration among beginning teachers and colleagues; and professional development activities designed to affect teaching and student achievement (Moir & Gless, 2001). …

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