The district, school community, and union develop a vision for the knowledge, skills, and attitudes they believe are essential for a profession-ready teacher. They collaborate in recruiting, hiring, and the full range of induction support for each new teacher.
New teachers benefit from a well-planned and personalized support system (induction). Weeks or months prior to the new teacher’s first day, the mentor contacts him/her to initiate a positive professional relationship. The school and district provide the teacher with access to classroom(s), curriculum materials, etc., to facilitate his/her initial planning. The school, district, union, and community strive to personally know each emerging teacher and to help him/her connect with culturally supportive networks and resources to overcome the isolation of a new job, community, and culture. Taking time to get to know each teacher shows they are valued and that their uniqueness is seen as an asset.
The union and district human resources department assist with completing administrative details in a manner that does not overwhelm or overstress. They collaborate in helping the emerging teacher navigate bureaucracy related to employment issues, benefits, and the transition from initial to full licensure.
Contractual responsibilities for the emerging teacher reflect the additional demands on time and energy while starting a new job. A reduced load of teaching duties allows for regular, ongoing mentoring and support during the school day. Responsibilities and the level of mentoring support are adjusted to match the emerging teacher’s capacity and needs throughout induction.
The emerging teacher is paired with a mentor who demonstrates accomplished practice and skills in working with adults, and who matches the emerging teacher’s teaching assignment and personal characteristics. Both the mentor and mentee receive training, orientation, time to collaborate, and other resources to support a productive professional relationship.
Induction includes helping the new teacher become familiar with the cultural groups within the school community, building connections with families and identifying resources that may help students be more successful.
The emerging teacher participates in instructional coaching (possibly from her/his mentor) according to her/his individual needs. The emerging teacher conferences regularly with the mentor to develop increased self-reflection skills. She/he also has opportunity to observe other teachers and to engage in dialogue about professional practice. The mentee receives substantive feedback on teaching as well as support in developing skills for self-reflection. Mentoring and coaching include developing pedagogical skills and growth of personal cultural awareness and ability to meet the needs of each learner via culturally responsive practices. Mentoring and coaching experiences are confidential.
Formal expectations for emerging teachers are tailored to their development.
Mentoring and coaching are aligned with school and district performance expectations. The emerging teacher’s coaching experiences are aligned to allow for practice and to support specific stages of the evaluation process. While initial expectations are adjusted to encourage growth and meet their developmental needs, emerging teachers are also provided clear models and descriptors of the kind of accomplished practice to which they should aspire throughout their careers.
Emerging teachers are encouraged to participate in school/district/union activities and committees that enhance their professional practice, help them embrace the positive culture of their school/district, and fosters the development of leadership skills. These activities always must be balanced with maintaining the primary focus on teaching responsibilities, continuing development of teaching skills, and moving to a professional license.
After two or more years of teaching with induction support, the emerging teacher demonstrates the professional skill to receive full licensure via an independent, standards-based performance assessment. Assessment may consist of review of a portfolio of artifacts demonstrating skills. If necessary, additional induction support is available to facilitate continued growth until the teacher is able to demonstrate mastery of the knowledge and skills needed to meet the diverse needs of a wide range of students.
Throughout the emerging phase, the new teacher’s original TPP maintains a connection that facilitates the transition from TPP support to mentoring from the school/district. The relationship also allows the TPP to see how well the program they designed prepares teachers for the real world.
The Current Landscape
The emerging career phase may be the one area that has a significant history and widespread implementation of desirable support practices. Mentoring and possibly peer assistance and coaching are not universal, but they are commonplace, often mandated by state statute. In some states, a mentoring program is the gatekeeper to achieving full licensure.
As long as some shortcut routes lower the bar for entry, induction support required for some emerging teachers will be massive, and student learning will be negatively impacted.
Despite the attention paid to professional growth in many schools/districts during induction, many issues remain unresolved:
- Depending on the quality and content of the TPP, the emerging teacher may need varied types and amounts of support.
- As long as the low bar exists for entry from some shortcut routes (programs that lack adequate clinical practice and links to understanding pedagogy), the induction support for some emerging teachers will be massive and, even with significant support, student learning will be negatively impacted.
- The quality of the mentor selected and quality of training and support for mentors impacts new teacher learning and success.
- The quality of mentoring programs varies, and poorly designed programs may actually produce negative results.
- Adjustments in workload for emerging teachers is virtually nonexistent in actual practice. In fact, workload and assignment may be even greater than for experienced colleagues.
- A hodge-podge of licensure requirements, along with allowing individual TPPs to make recommendations for licensure, leads to inconsistent standards across institutions and results in wide variation in emerging teachers’ knowledge and skills.
Transforming the Landscape
Passion for Learning
Every educator in the school participates in peer coaching. The culture of lifelong learning and continuous improvement is modeled for the emerging teacher by peers, by school/district leaders, and in every aspect of professional practice.
The commitment to learning can be seen in teachers’ decisions and in classroom/school policies. Understanding and honoring individual differences means each person is afforded additional practice and mentoring when needed and multiple opportunities and measures to demonstrate mastery. Support for the continued, career-long growth of all teachers is a model for the expectations for support of PreK-12 student learning.
Assessment for Excellence
The evaluation of emerging teachers is aligned with the specific set of skills and professional learning outcomes that they are responsible for at the beginning of a career. Moving from initial to full licensure must be based on performance assessments, possibly through review of a professional portfolio that demonstrates the specific set of knowledge, skills, and dispositions established by the profession.
Culture of Collaboration
The emerging teacher experiences a pervasive culture of collaboration. They are welcomed into colleagues’ classrooms to observe. They are embraced as peers with important perspectives and ideas to add when serving on committees and professional learning communities. The TPPs that prepared a new teacher also maintain connections of support and collect feedback for TPP improvement. Emerging teachers are encouraged to participate in virtual communities of practice and in their professional union, providing avenues for their voices to be heard, for learning to occur, and for leadership skills to emerge and grow.
Emerging teachers are mentored as they build positive connections with parents and develop a range of community connections that can enhance opportunities for authentic student learning.
Emerging teachers are frequently engaged in peer coaching, collaborative lesson planning, co-teaching, etc., to ensure that no teacher is every solely responsible for the learning of a particular group of students. Students experience high levels of success in every classroom supported by the culture of professional collaboration.
The emerging teacher is at a career phase that has significant demands for professional growth to move from initial licensure to full professional licensure. These demands, while daunting, are an opportunity for the emerging teacher to prioritize and to work with her/his mentor/coach to chart a growth plan that fits strengths and interests. The school community should embrace the emerging teacher and provide opportunities to exercise autonomy in planning and implementing activities outside the classroom.
Worth of Persons and Communities
Emerging teachers often come with limited experiences in culturally diverse settings and working with diverse learning needs. While hiring teachers who already possess deep understanding of culture and the ability to meet diverse student needs is a goal for the school, not all teachers will come with the same degree of readiness. Induction is a crucial time to support the new teacher in making culturally responsive decisions about instruction, policies, and restorative justice in the classroom.
Induction is a crucial time to support the new teacher in making culturally responsive decisions about instruction, policies, and restorative justice in the classroom.
These characteristics of sensitivity and respect must also be modeled as faculty and administration interact with the emerging teacher. Teachers must personally experience what they are expected to create in the culture of their classrooms. Emerging teachers should be provided with a safe environment and supportive experiences that help them deepen their awareness of their own cultural background and the influence it has on their perspectives in working with students and colleagues.
New teachers should experience a culture in which experienced educators demonstrate respect and caring for the community in which they teach.
They should experience a culture in which experienced educators demonstrate respect and caring for the community in which they teach. The time, energy, and focus on a safe environment for the development of cultural understanding of emerging teachers reflects the high priority for social justice within the school and district.