Academic journal article The Professional Educator

Broadening Landscapes and Affirming Professional Capacity: A Metacognitive Approach to Teacher Induction

Academic journal article The Professional Educator

Broadening Landscapes and Affirming Professional Capacity: A Metacognitive Approach to Teacher Induction

Article excerpt

Abstract

The Faculty of Education at Brock University and an Ontario, Canada, self-regulatory body for the teaching profession partnered to create an innovative teacher induction project conceptualized to enable new and mentor teachers to self-affirm their professional capacities as autonomous and collaborative professionals. A distinguishing feature of the project is its focus on participants' metacognition throughout the inquiry process. Participants engaged in critical thinking and retrospective analysis with new and experienced colleagues. The resulting data confirmed that the induction model engaged participants in the broadening of their teacher landscapes and provided a heightened sense of self-affirmation.

Teacher induction continues to be a topic that has profound relevancy across North America. DarlingHammond (2006), among other researchers, underscores the fact that teachers' abilities contribute most significantly to student achievement and educational improvement (see also CochranSmith, 2006). Effective teacher induction programs are instrumental in terms of both new teacher retention and in strengthening pedagogical practice (Fulton et al., 2005; Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). The literature, however, suggests that new teachers too often lack the professional support and constructive dialogue necessary to make the successful transition from preto inservice teaching (Brock & Grady, 1997; Danielson, 2002). The result is a staggering number of new teachers who abandon the profession in the first three to five years - 46% in the United States (DarlingHammond, 2006). Further, research shows that teacher retention is more aligned to the nature of the first teaching experience than to an individual's academic proficiency or to the quality of his or her professional teacher education program (see Nielsen et al., 2006; Odell & Ferraro, 1992); therefore, the necessity to support new teachers is strikingly clear (National Commission on Teaching, 2003; Wilkins & Clift, 2006).

The Ontario Context

The Ontario Ministry of Education's New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP) is considered "the second step in a continuum of professional development for teachers to support effecting teaching, learning, and assessment practices, building on and complementing preservice education programs" (NTIP, 2006, p. 5). New teachers need to attain two satisfactory ratings on their performance appraisals within the first twelve months of practice to mark their successful completion in the NTIP program. A third and possibly fourth appraisal is required if either of the first two evaluations resulted in a "Development Needed" outcome. Among the objectives of NTIP is to provide sustained and fullyear support for new teachers to complement the learning from their professional teacher education programs and to further develop the essential aptitudes and knowledge that will contribute to their effectiveness as a classroom teacher in Ontario schools.

Additionally, the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) allows teachers to govern their own profession in the name of public interest and accountability. The OCT issues official certificates of qualification to those interested in teaching in Ontario public schools. Among its mandates, the OCT establishes the standards of professional practice for all educators, is the accrediting body for teacher education programs, and contributes to the professional learning and development of its members. As the body that investigates instances of teacher misconduct and incompetence, the OCT also has the authority to suspend or revoke teaching certificates.

There has been a commendable focus on teacher induction practices in Ontario. This focus has been fueled in part by the realization that beginning teachers function more efficiently and effectively when they are supported during their induction into the profession. Equally noteworthy, teacher mentors also significantly benefit from participation in professional learning initiatives that enhance their roles as teacher leaders. …

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