Guiding School Improvement with Action Research

By Richard Sagor | Go to book overview

14 Inducting Teachers
into a Culture of Inquiry

The research on professional socialization and induction of new teachers has made it clear that beginning teachers' first experiences are the most powerful ones of their careers (Veenman 1984). Furthermore, the perspectives and values encountered during that induction year tend to become internalized and maintained throughout an educator's career. That fact by itself may go a long way toward explaining the low levels of professional efficacy observed with many of today's teachers. If teachers start out teaching in an environment where the organizational structures, the attitudes of colleagues, and the demands on time emphasize only the limitations on what can be accomplished, it is logical that they will end up facing work with a sense of futility.


Peer Coaching

To respond to this sad situation and to meet the induction and professional development needs of new teachers, many thoughtful educators and policymakers have lobbied for funding for mentoring programs to assist beginning teachers with their introduction into the teaching profession. One element of most new teacher programs is mentoring by an experienced colleague using a peer coaching model. The rationale is that a rookie teacher can gain a great deal by observing others and by being observed and getting feedback from a more experienced colleague.

This certainly seems like a good idea, and over the past 15 years, educators have gained quite a bit of experience using this model. However, the evidence suggests that in spite of near universal acceptance of its worthiness, most peer coaching initiatives fade once the mandate, the funding, or the requirement disappears. All of this raises a question:

-180-

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