Acclimating Induction Teachers to Low-Performing Schools: Administrators' Role
Brown, Kathy Laboard, Education
Induction, the process of orienting teachers to the profession, consists of a series of experiences at the district and building levels to familiarize the novice with the daily operations of the organization. Inducting teachers for low-performing schools, however, requires intensive, ongoing support. Traditionally, first year teachers are given a tour of the building, introduced to key personnel, assigned a mentor, and assigned a room. The novice is expected to acclimate himself to the profession and perform at mastery level by the end of the second year. This expectation is contrary to expectations of other professions; for example, medical interns who accompany residents on rounds to create or review a patient's medical history and current condition, and prescribe appropriate treatment. This practice ensures interns learn in a supportive environment while they refine their craft. Berliner (2001) concurs that physicians determine what to accomplish during rounds. Similarly, he states that teachers and physicians practice an art. Likewise, law interns benefit from daily consultation and collaboration; the novice, mid-career, and experienced professionals meet to outline a professional agenda, work through conflicts, resolve legal style issues, and reflect on successful approaches for planning the organization's work. Although education reform has adopted an induction model, the exodus of teachers from the profession within the first three years indicates a need for a comprehensive induction program.
The purpose of this paper is to examine the administrator's responsibility for inducting teachers in low-performing schools and the implications of this induction process for teacher retention. The induction year can be challenging for teachers in low-performing schools. Teaching students at-risk for achieving is difficult. Several issues that relate to teacher/student and teacher/teacher interactions must be handled tactfully. Matching resources that meet student needs with stimulating student engagements requires extensive knowledge and expertise. Asking colleagues for instructional help and guidance for matching students' needs compromises the novice's credibility and adds responsibility to experienced teachers. Trying to meet administrators' expectations becomes a struggle for the novice because helping students achieve and demonstrating professional expertise are not synonymous. Many induction teachers find teacher training and the internship to be incongruent with the daily responsibility of managing an actual classroom. Finding the delicate balance between theory and practice becomes primary to the induction teacher's survival, particularly when applied to diverse learning cultures. Administrative support can reduce the range of difference between mediocrity and effectiveness.
The Profile of the Low-Performing School
Low-performing schools share general indicators:
(a) economically disadvantaged students in rural or urban locations,
(b) old facilities that are in need of renovation and repairs,
(c) minorities make up more than 50% of student populations while faculty populations are more than 75% majority,
(d) annual teacher turnover rates range between 12-15%,
(e) few faculty members live in the neighborhood,
(f) many inexperienced teachers seek employment in these schools to defray the cost of college loans, and
(g) student achievement rates, as indicated on norm-referenced tests, reveal that more than 50% of the students score below the 50 percentile (Mintrop & MacLellan, 2002).
Kids Count (2000) risk factors show that 15% of South Carolina's children live in high risk families, 39% of babies in SC are born to single mothers, 15% of first graders are assessed not ready for 1st grade; 14% repeat one of the first 3 grades, and 33% of children in SC do not graduate from high school. …