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Ten Reasons to Have a High-Quality Teacher Induction Program

As this school year comes to an end, many districts and schools will reflect on the successes of the year and begin to plan for the next school year. Budget priorities will be reassessed and debated. In this situation, it is important to let education leaders know that the best investment they can make is in a high-quality teacher induction program.

1. The increasing number of new teachers makes it an imperative.

More than 300,000 new teachers are being hired each year – a nearly 50 percent increase from a decade ago. That number is expected to rise to over 380,000 in less than 10 years. For districts and schools, a higher percentage of new teachers has implications for teacher effectiveness and student results, making it imperative to ensure these new teachers are supported from day one. Research by Richard Ingersoll from the University of Pennsylvania has shown that high-quality teacher induction programs can advance teaching practice and teacher retention. Mentoring new teachers with talented experienced teachers is the best way to ensure that novice educators quickly develop the skills they need to reach the needs of all students and ensure they are successful.

2. It improves new teacher effectiveness.

New teachers, even the best and brightest, struggle in their early years of teaching. No matter how comprehensive pre-service training may be, new teachers need support from the moment they step into the classroom. Teacher induction improves classroom management and discipline issues, how to differentiate instruction, and strategies for working with parents and the community.

Our own induction survey has found that after two years of participating in an induction program, over 90% of new teachers agree that mentoring improved their practice. When educators engage in meaningful induction programs, their practice becomes more thoughtful, strategic and effective. The faster a teacher is brought up to speed in the classroom, the better the student results.

3. Mentoring suits the work style of GenX and Millennial new teachers.

Today’s new younger teaching force is comprised primarily of Generation X (born 1968-79) and Millennial (born after 1979), and is comfortable with a dispersed leadership style. They are more independent and self-reliant than previous generations. They have strong technical skills, are comfortable with technology, they are results focused, adaptable to change and like teamwork. Research from the University of Minnesota Training Center on Community Living shows that this teaching force values collaboration, collective actions, training and skill development. A teacher induction program that includes mentoring fits the work style of new teachers by providing multiple ways to work with colleagues to accelerate student success.

4. It can attract teacher talent.

High-quality professional development can attract the best new teacher talent. In today’s digital world, word spreads about schools which are supportive and have induction programs; and which do not. Some of our partners have already referenced the growing trend of new teachers inquiring which schools have induction programs, specifically stating they are most interested in working at a school that will support their early career professional development. Generation X and Millennials are ready to collaboratively work together and share leadership roles to improve upon their teaching practice and student success. Seeking out teacher induction programs only highlights their savvy to improve themselves on an individual level and as a team.

5. It improves teacher retention and saves money.

No matter how bright, or how extensive their pre-service training, many new teachers will find they are ill-prepared for the realities of the classroom. They will struggle with classroom management and to meet the content, social and emotional learning needs of each student. Between 40 and 50 percent of teachers quit before their fifth year.

The primary driver of new teachers leaving the profession is lack of administrative and professional support. The Beginners in the Classroom report from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching shows that new teachers leave the profession as a result of simply feeling that the people they work for do not care about them or their efforts to improve teaching practice. The foundation’s conclusion is based on research in which new teachers report that they feel isolated from colleagues, receive inadequate feedback on performance, have poor professional development and little emotional backing by administrators.

But a high-quality teacher induction program in which a mentor is assigned to support new teachers and develop their practice with weekly one-on-one meetings addresses this issue. As a result, high-quality teacher induction programs have been shown to improve teacher retention by on average 20 percentile points.

Research has found that teacher turnover costs the country $2.2 billion each year, so programs that alleviate attrition rates save school districts money. With less money needing to be spent on recruitment, limited budget dollars are available for other initiatives.

6. It creates a collaborative culture and teacher leadership.

Teaching can be an isolated profession, where feedback and coaching is not welcome. Professional development of teachers should be a lifelong process that starts during teacher preparation programs and ends when a teacher retires. Strong induction programs foster a collaborative culture and teacher leadership. Being mentored during the first three years of their careers allows new teachers to value feedback and the opportunity to learn alongside their peers and more experienced colleagues. In quality programs, mentors often initiate and facilitate professional learning communities (PLC) to successfully develop leadership skills, a shared sense of responsibility and accountability for the learning of all students in a school. Induction programs that include PLCs build teacher leadership, foster a collaborative school culture and drive improvement in student results.

7. It develops principal pipelines.

Some expert teachers are initially conflicted about leaving the classroom, but become drawn to the opportunity to impact the profession on a broader scale by becoming a mentor and teachers of teachers, a unique leadership role. Through mentoring, exemplary teachers reaffirm themselves as lifelong learners when they choose the path to teacher leadership and expand their reach and impact on student learning.

The experience of working with many schools and teachers within a district gives mentors a valuable perspective – a deep understanding of district context and challenges. This broad view allows mentors to share ideas, initiatives and successes that can take root across the broader system. School districts with mentoring programs often lead to pipelines of leadership roles that involve administrative positions, learning specialists, curriculum design and district wide professional development. While some mentors return to the classroom re-energized by new ideas and empowered by their mentoring skills, others seek out new leadership roles as instructional coaches or consider a career as a principal.

8. It drives system-wide district alignment, which also saves money.

A comprehensive multi-layered professional development program can be systematized. A high-quality teacher induction program supports the use of consistent protocols and methodologies followed by every staff member whether a new teacher, mentor, induction coach, or principal, across a range of professional development and teacher effectiveness initiatives. Districts can repurpose learning, protocols, and tools to streamline approaches and avoid spending more on resources when money is tight. The post 4 ways to get more from your district’s budget for teacher professional development outlines smart money tips and talking points when discussing budgets. Research has found that teacher turnover costs the country $2.2 billion each year, and programs that alleviate attrition rates save school districts money. By creating a high-quality teacher induction program from day one, districts can sustain their programs, spend less on recruitment and save money in the long run.

9. It improves student success.

Student success is the ultimate goal for everyone. A comprehensive induction program ultimately benefits students the most. Induction programs have a direct impact on teacher effectiveness, teacher retention and teacher leadership, all of which have a direct impact on student success. Once a district has built up a high-quality induction program, the system propels new teachers to get better faster with the aid of mentors, induction coaches, principals and district leaders.

In fact, federally-funded research found that beginning teachers who received two years of comprehensive induction produced greater student learning gains when compared with those who received less intensive mentoring. These gains are significant – the equivalent of a student moving from the 50th to the 58th percentile in math and from the 50th to the 54th percentile in reading.

10. Because every child deserves a great teacher.

The growing numbers of new teachers are disproportionately assigned to work in disadvantaged, high-poverty, urban and rural area schools. Schools with high populations of students living in poverty typically have the lowest academic achievement, and lowest high school graduation rates. These are the students most in need of a talented, experienced teacher. Yet every year, 15 million children across the U.S. will be taught by a new, inexperienced teacher and face a revolving door of teachers who quit. If we are to fulfill the promise of better tomorrow for all students, but particularly minority and underserved students, we need to have them taught by an effective teacher every day, every year, regardless of whether that teacher is new to the profession or not. Quality induction programs are a way to close the achievement gap and address inequity in our education system.

If we are to transform our schools to places of academic excellence where all students thrive, we need to ensure that everyone understands the importance of teacher induction. Now, the next time someone asks you why teacher induction is so important; you have an arsenal of reasons to convey. It’s time to advocate for continued or new investment in high-quality induction programs. Because no induction is an induction unto itself.

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