15/07/2024

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How Mentorship And New-Teacher Assessments Shape The Effective Inductions

9 min read
How Mentorship And New-Teacher Assessments Shape The Effective  Inductions

Program Description

New-teacher Induction Programs involves those practices used to help new and beginning teachers become competent and effective professionals in the classroom. Induction programs also help develop an understanding of the local school, community and cultures. “Formal induction programs provide stability between the closely supervised pre-service experience and experienced classroom responsibilities.” (ERIC Digest 4, 1986) An effective induction program should be a continuing process that includes orientation, mentorship and offer systematic training over two or three years.

The intent of all induction programs is to transform a new teacher into a competent career teacher. However, no two induction programs are exactly alike; “each caters to the culture and needs of its unique school or district.” (Delisio, 2003) Several common components motivate the most successful induction programs:

– Orientation – an initial four or five days of training before school begins. (Policies, Procedures, expectations)

– Continuous Education – Ongoing, systematic training over the course of two or three years.

– Support – Strong administrative participation and support of the overall induction process.

– Mentorship – A mentoring component.

– Team Building – Study groups in which new-teacher’s network and support one another.

– Observing Effective Techniques – Opportunities to observe classrooms taught by successful veteran teachers.

– Evaluation – New-teachers receive timely feedback after coaching, observing and demonstration.

Problem

Most new-teacher induction programs in public schools are under-developed and lack funding and support. Schools must have sound induction programs in which new-teachers are both assessed and supported as they grow. Effective induction programs includes all the activities that train and support new-teachers. Research has shown that:

– One in five teachers leave the profession within the first three years.

– The first year is predictive of success and retention in the career.

– New-teachers are more influenced by their first school setting than by preparation.

Student teachers have not survived a series of instructional failures, experienced class boredom or discovered a wall of class learning resistance. Student teachers do not typically experience the non-teaching demands of meetings, paperwork, supervision of extracurricular activities, and student/parent conferences. We very well know that no matter how good a teacher education is the difficulties of effective teaching are such that teachers will never know all they need to know when they enter their first classroom. Most new-teachers do pre-service preparation programs in college. Others get ‘emergency’ or ‘provisional’ licenses. These new teachers are also more likely to be concerned about parental involvement, know about multicultural issues, and get assigned to tough classes they’re not ready to teach.

Assumptions

Several assumptions have guided this evaluation of induction programs and recommendations for additional teacher support systems:
1. The use of teacher inductions has had some positive results and “lack of support and inexperience accounts for most new-teacher’s problems.” (ERIC Digest 5, 1986) Supported teachers:

– Can influence many things, which affect new teachers,

– Use a wider variety of teaching practices, and more challenging activities to engage students,

– Have better planned instruction and a wider range of materials,

– Have more confidence and better classroom management.

2. There are concerns about the use of the evaluation process as a means of weeding out the below average teachers. Schools must make extensive use of new-teacher assessments to improve new-teacher performance.

3. There appears to be limited support for the implementation of a new system of teacher support.

4. There is room for stronger link between retention and induction programs since twenty percent of teachers leave the profession within the first three years.

Solution

Build an effective teacher support system that focuses on new teachers. The framework would consist of those steps listed above as part of an effective induction program (Orientation, Continuous Education, Support, Mentorship, Team Building, Observing Effective Techniques, and Evaluation) and take them a step further by placing emphasis on mentorship and new-teacher evaluations as an assessment for improvement. By emphasizing the key elements of the induction program, this new-teacher support system can be effective tools for helping new teachers succeed.

Mentoring

The greatest amount of emphasis should be placed on mentorship. Every new teacher has access to an experienced teacher mentor who is capable of providing professional support, instruction and guidance. Making the transition from student to teacher requires more than learning where the supplies are kept and how to keep order in the classroom. A successful transition requires an understanding of policies and procedures, leadership skills and a sense of self confidence. Mentoring programs have been in place for decades and more than half the states require mentoring for entry level teacher. However, they generally leave new-teacher mentor training to the inclination of local implementation and they fail to recognize the amount of time needed for new teachers to document and assess their own skills. Mentoring provides new teachers with support and also helps build long-term relationships that lead to classroom success. There are several issues that must be addressed to build an effective mentoring program: the selection of mentors, how new teachers and mentors are assigned to each other, how formal or informal the mentoring relationship should be, how mentors are rewarded for their contribution, and where the time for mentoring can be found. Teacher effectiveness will improve by taking the time to address these issues.

The most challenging task in developing an effective mentorship program is selecting mentors. Volunteers always seem to work best since they are enthusiastic, motivated and committed. However, there are other criteria in the selection of a good mentor. Mentors also convey and uphold the standards, norms, and values of the teaching profession. A publication of the National Education Association (NEA) described thirteen typical roles mentor function as:

– Counselor —Mentors provide a confidential, candid, and supportive environment that gives the psychological support necessary to help new teachers stay committed to teaching.

– A Teacher —Mentors help new teachers refine their teaching practices and understand the learning needs of all students, especially those students at risk, with special needs, and from diverse cultural and linguistic homes.

– A Challenger —Mentors challenge new teachers to do their best, by assisting them in content areas and helping them obtain professional development training.

– A Coach —Mentors help new teachers improve their classroom teaching, by offering assistance with classroom management and discipline strategies.

– An Observer —Mentors observe new teachers in action and provide timely and ongoing coaching and support.

– A Facilitator — Mentors help new teachers access a broad variety of professional experiences, by arranging meetings with other new teachers and observations of master teachers in action.

– A Trainer — Mentors conduct workshops and other professional development training for new teachers, other mentor teachers, and building administrators.

– A Master — Mentors use current education techniques and are proficient with education technology.

– A Tour Guide — Mentors help orient new teachers to both the workplace and the culture of the community, by supporting and facilitating meaningful parent and community involvement in and with the school.

– An Advocate — Mentors advocate for new teachers by offering their thoughts and ideas in ongoing and annual assessments of the mentoring program.

– A Role Model — Full-time mentors demonstrate to new teachers the importance of “classroom connection” by returning to their own classrooms within three years.

– A Reporter — Mentors share the success of the mentoring program with all who will listen and report frequently to the joint oversight committee.

– An Equal — Mentors do not supervise. They serve as peers and colleagues to new teachers.
Source: A Better Beginning: Helping new teachers survive and thrive (NEA, 2003)

Matching mentors with new teachers is critical to the success of every teacher support system. In programs where mentors are selected for their interest and enthusiasm for forming relationships, everyone benefits. After mentor selection, program coordinators must match mentors with new teachers based on school site, grade-level experience, curriculum content, and specializations such as special education. Finally, each site should collaborate with their district in establishing or improving their mentoring program by creating and delivering a training program for mentor teachers, oversight committee and association building representatives. For beginning teachers it’s no longer about taking the first job that comes along. It’s about taking the first job where they feel like they can survive.

New-teacher Assessments for Improvement

The first-year teacher is typically assigned to the same task, in and out of the classroom, as long-time veteran teachers. New teachers will sometimes meet the challenge, usually in schools committed to helping new teachers. Unfortunately, supportive schools are the exception and not the norm. The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires all states to guarantee by 2005-2006 that every teacher is highly qualified. If new teacher evaluations are used as an intimidating tool then teachers would become unsettled, and no good will come from it. However, schools committed to new teacher success will invest time and effort in rigorous new-teacher assessments and include rigorous evaluations that determine the effectiveness of the induction program and provides information that can be used to continuously improve the program. Administrators should not assess new teachers as they would veteran teachers. Administrators should have a minimum standard that he/she can evaluate all teachers on. However, I would hope that a prudent administrator would expect a little more from the veteran teachers. It would be unfair to beginning teachers for administrators to expect the same level of performance as veterans.

Administrators and mentors must use their evaluations and assessment as a tool to gage and provide for the needs of the new teacher. Performance-based assessments of new teachers need to be linked directly to induction and new-teacher support, so that assessment drives teacher development and the demonstrated needs of new teachers help shape assessment of their performance. The weakest programs simply orient new teachers to their schools, providing little in-depth assessment or ongoing support. Some offer help from a colleague, while others provide well trained mentors skilled in providing valuable assessments and support. There are several ways administrators can use the information gathered from assessments and evaluation to assist the new teacher:

– Emphasize the function of teacher evaluation to seek out and acknowledge good teaching.

– Evaluate to assure teachers, parents and legislators that good teaching is being conducted. In other words, look for the good aspects in everyone and build on that.

– Ensure that new teachers understand what you expect in terms of job duties, professionalism, teaching methods, and discipline.

– Set aside time to drop in or meet with new teachers on a weekly basis. Spend the extensive time and resources needed to recognize good teaching.

– Use the results of teacher evaluation to encourage personal professional profile building.

The public’s demand for raising the educational achievement of all students has led to a mushrooming in teacher assessments. “Given the importance of teacher quality for improving student achievement, teacher assessment has emerged as an important tool in improving education.” (WestEd, 2001) Establishing clear, rigorous standards that specify what individuals should know and be able to do is critical to transforming the way we educate students and assess their performance. In addition to measuring the quality of teacher practice, teacher assessment also serves to further the dialogue about what is considered good teaching practice.

Principals who keep good teachers are those who provide an environment in which new teachers develop competence, gain a sense of value, and take pride in being teachers. These are the teachers who stay. This New-teacher Support System focuses on mentorship and new-teacher assessment as the key elements within a well-developed induction program. This doesn’t mean that all other elements can go by the way-side. All the elements must be fully utilized if the school is to experience genuine improvement. Effective school leaders know that even the best schools can be better. That’s why educators must constantly examine their schools, identify student and teacher needs, and implement school improvement strategies.

References:

Delisio E. R. (2003) Induction Programs Helps Keep Better Teachers. Retrieved February 21, 2004. http://www.educationworld.com/a_issues/chat/chat071.shtml

DePaul, A. (2000). Survival guide for new teachers: How new teachers can work effectively with veteran teachers, parents, principals, and teacher educators. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved April 21, 2001. [http://www.ed.gov/pubs/survivalguide/]

ERIC Digest 4. ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education Washington DC (1986). Components of Good Teacher Induction Programs. Retrieved February 21, 2004. [http://www.thememoryhole.org/edu/eric/ed269407.html]

ERIC Digest 5. ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education Washington DC (1986). Components of Good Teacher Induction Programs.Retrieved February 21, 2004. [http://www.thememoryhole.org/edu/eric/ed269406.html]

National Education Association (NEA). (2003) A Better Beginning: Helping new teachers survive and thrive. Retrieved 17April, 2004. [http://www.nea.org/teachershortage/betterbeginnings.html]

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. PUBLIC LAW 107–110—JAN. 8, 2002

WestEd (2001). Teacher Assessment and Professional Development. Retrieved April 22, 2004. http://www.wested.org /asds/profdev.shtml

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