Academic journal article Middle School Journal

New Teacher Induction: Support That Impacts Beginning Middle-Level Educators

Academic journal article Middle School Journal

New Teacher Induction: Support That Impacts Beginning Middle-Level Educators

Article excerpt

This We Believe characteristics:

* Educators value young adolescents and are prepared to teach them

* Students and teachers are engaged in active, purposeful learning

* Leaders are committed to and knowledgeable about this age group, educational research, and best practices

* A shared vision by all stakeholders guides every decision

New teachers, regardless of their pathways into teaching, are not fully prepared for the first day and have much to learn. Many complex tasks are involved in teaching, especially in middle schools where teachers need to be knowledgeable about young adolescents' diverse needs (Van Hoose, Strahan, & L'Esperance, 2001). As a result of the demands placed on novices as they enter the professsion, many teachers struggle when the support system is not strong enough to help them implement the ideas and knowledge that they learn in their preparation (Villani, 2002). In an effort to develop new teachers, many districts and schools create induction programs to provide professional development and mentor those new to the profession (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). Common objectives of teacher induction include teacher development, socialization into the profession, assessment of teaching effectiveness, and support in refining practice (Feiman-Nemser, 2001; Ganser, 2002). Although programs vary between schools and context, they typically include a variety of activities such as orientation, classroom support, workshops, collaboration with colleagues, and mentoring (Ingersoll & Strong, 2011).

In recent years, researchers have noted a movement to improve new teacher induction programs (Wayne, Youngs, & Fleishman, 2005). Nationally, almost two-thirds of teachers reported participating in an induction program during their first year and 71% had a mentor (Darling-Hammond, Wei, Andree, Richardson, & Orphanos, 2009). Even though this statistic is promising, it is important to further understand the varying quality of how new teacher support impacts teacher performance and student achievement. Induction programs that are tailored to teachers' needs and guide them to be effective practitioners can significantly impact teachers' decisions to stay in their schools and the profession altogether (Johnson & Birkeland, 2003; Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). In contrast, teachers leave schools where they are not supported, feel ill-equipped to meet students' needs, and sense an overall feeling of ineffectiveness. These latter conditions are more widespread in low-performing schools with high percentages of minority populations (Loeb, Darling-Hammond & Luczak, 2005) and where induction programs are less common (Darling-Hammond et al" 2009).

Recent research findings indicate that high performing schools with high poverty and minority populations can and do retain effective teachers, which indicates that teacher turnover is more closely related to the environment and support that teachers receive than socioeconomic and ethnic status of the students (Johnson, Kraft, & Papay, 2012). To examine this issue of teachers' support, over the course of one school year, we interviewed five beginning teachers from culturally diverse, high poverty schools to understand the first year from their point of view. These novice teachers shared the challenges and success they had and the perceived impact of support provided, including mentoring, professional development, and professional collaboration throughout the year. This article explores five teachers' perceptions of the support they received in their first year in relationship to what research says about the best practices to develop and retain effective teachers.

A case study of five teachers' induction experiences

The perceptions of the new teachers help those interested in teacher induction to make sense of their experiences (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007), to further understand how we can improve the support for new teachers, promote retention of effective teachers, and strengthen student achievement. …

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