Commitment to Retaining Talented Teachers

Commitment to Retaining Talented Teachers

Training is a component of many teacher induction programs. All too often, inductees have received insufficient professional preparation. With increasing numbers of inductees entering the classroom via alternative routes, many induction programs today are compensating for little or no previous training whatsoever, in effect blurring the line between teacher preparation and induction.


Even if your new hires have had traditional teacher education, they often come unprepared for the first year of teaching, especially in urban classrooms. Sometimes, even an aspiring urban teacher who shines when placed for her eight-week practicum in an “exemplary” school, with excellent teachers and a rich learning environment, may well be hopelessly unprepared to cope with conditions in the mediocre or failing school that is likely to be her first assignment.


The most effective type of training program is that which is part of a teacher’s ongoing professional development. Viewed as part of continuing education, content and complexity grow as the inductee matures into a seasoned teacher. Completing your first year as a fully responsible teacher in an urban school has nothing to do with having been “successful” in a college preparation program. Even if you student-taught in an urban school, you were never accountable to the parents and principal for students’ learning and behavior.


Training programs for beginning teachers often are determined by courses that the state or district requires (and sometimes finances). Training typically is conducted by a staff developer and a cadre of teacher trainers; central office personnel, site administrators, or consultants also may facilitate workshops. The best training programs are those that include ongoing assessments of the particular needs of individual beginning teachers, and design workshops, seminars, and course work based on these needs.


Training can take many forms, including:


– Observation in other classrooms in same school

– Workshops/seminars

– Conferences

– Observations in other schools

– Reflection on practice/journal writing

– Team teaching (novice + experienced teacher)

– Individual induction plan

– Psychological support

– Teacher-led inquiry/action research

– Case-based discussion

– Electronic networking


You can hold induction activities in the same school building the inductee works in, at a different school site or professional development center, or you can rotate activities among different school sites. Induction activities can be held during the school day, after school, on weekends, or even before school.




Program content often deals with perceived barriers to inductee success. Common curricular topics for induction include addressing inadequate classroom management skills and inability to handle disruptive students.


Curriculum topics you might include:


– District/system policies, paperwork

– Classroom management

– School policies, paperwork

– Organizing time/work schedules

– Classroom discipline

– Instruction/pedagogy

– Planning

– Student assessment

– Available resources

– K-12 curriculum

– Special education

– Cultural sensitivity/diversity

– Parent involvement

– School improvement/reform

– Stress management

– Educational research

– School/community violence

– Second language acquisition




With growing attention to teacher accountability for student learning, inductee performance assessments should be designed to help the inductee meet standards and to determine if the inductee should remain in teaching.


Whether evaluations are conducted by school site administrators, peer teachers, or a team including university faculty members, all inductees (not just those lucky enough to have a mentor) are entitled to comparable amounts and types of support prior to assessment. Local and state standards (both for student achievement and teacher performance) should be clearly stated and available to inductees when hired.


Professional Portfolios


Some states and districts have introduced the use of professional portfolios as a method for aiding teacher assessment. Inductees prepare and submit a teaching portfolio, which documents planning, teaching, and student learning. The portfolio includes multiple sources of information (such as videos of teacher-directed instruction and student-centered lessons, teacher commentaries, and samples of student work). If teaching portfolios are required, inductees should receive clear guidance as to their development.


Peer Review


Peer review represents a shift away from the traditional model of assessment (administrators supervising and evaluating new teachers) to one where experienced teachers support, assist, and appraise inductees. Peer assistance and review programs offer leadership roles for exemplary teachers, who are responsible for assuring quality in their profession. Schools that use peer review have found that it can successfully assist and support teachers and also be effective in weeding out incompetent teachers.


Inductees are screened rigorously at entry level by their peers. Teachers must present evidence of continual growth and renewal in order to advance their careers. Supervisors, who formerly monitored teacher performance, have been eliminated. Teacher evaluation has become a responsibility shared by principals and a select corps of experienced teachers.


The evaluation process is one of continuous mutual goal setting based on detailed observations and follow-up conferences, in which intern and consultant analyze and set practical goals for improvement based on specific evaluation criteria. Consulting teachers submit periodic reports to an intern board of review regarding the status of each of the interns with whom they are working. During the first year, the observations and subsequent evaluations are completed solely by the consulting teacher. Consultants submit a final evaluation of interns’ progress and recommend to the board the future status of interns’ employment.


Areas in which the interns are evaluated include teaching procedures, classroom management, knowledge of subject, and academic preparation.


The Peer Assistance program, designed by teachers, broadened the original program to incorporate a career ladder, with new teacher roles and compensation, teacher empowerment, and school-based planning.


At the heart of the program is the concept of peer review and assistance, in which lead teachers take responsibility for assuring teacher quality. The Peer Assistance program determines whether a teacher moves up the career ladder, which has four stages: intern, resident, professional, and lead teacher.


Components of peer review and assistance include:


– Assistance by a lead teacher during the first year of teaching, after which the new teacher is recommended, terminated, or put on probation.


– After the first year, under the Performance Appraisal Review for Teachers, teachers are evaluated annually by a team. Every three years, teachers receive an intensive summative evaluation, based in part on student performance.


– A teacher having problems can seek the help of a lead teacher, who connects her to district resources.


No longer are graduates of teacher preparation programs in those states fully or permanently licensed when they start teaching. Instead, those states have made qualifying for full licensure part of the induction process: states grant graduates of teacher preparation programs initial or provisional licensure and evaluate their competence. And, more often than not, states ask districts to provide a support component to guide and mentor inductees (or “interns,” as they are often called) as they prepare for assessment.


Commitment to Retaining Talented Teachers/Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment


While there is no one induction model that would serve all districts, it is helpful to look around for ideas.


The new program increases new teachers’ confidence and satisfaction while improving their teaching practices. Ninety-one percent of beginning teachers who complete the new program remain in teaching, as compared to a national average well below that.


What is the mission of the program?


The goal of the program is for new teachers to experience enhanced professional growth and development and become increasingly attached to teaching through a rich and thoughtful induction process. Each will gain a professional voice by working in close concert with experienced colleagues and trained assessors to chart their own progress through the continuum of skills, knowledge, and abilities associated with each domain of the profession.


What are the key elements?

– Support by a mentor

– Clinical supervision regarding reflection and portfolio work

– Formative assessments of teaching practice

– Professional development to promote effectiveness with students

– Retention in teaching

– Satisfaction with the occupation


What about standards and assessment?


More than any other program of this type, the new program uses standards as the basis for individual learning activities as well as annual program accountability reviews. Standards have been developed by outstanding teachers and other educators to ensure program excellence. These serve as the “bench-marks” that guide the consultations and activities of beginning teachers, their support providers, and their formative assessors. In each new teacher’s Individual Induction Plan, teachers aim toward eventual accomplishment of the new teaching standards.


In this model, which is being used voluntarily in new projects, experienced professionals learn how to manage an integrated process of assessment, assistance, implementation, reflection on practice, and further assessment on the part of each beginning teacher.


How are the projects coordinated?


A project may be coordinated by an individual district, districts in collaboration with colleges and universities, or large consortia in which districts, colleges and universities, and county offices of education work together. To assist local managers of new projects, a regional structure has been established in which highly experienced consultants support the recruitment of effective support providers, coordinate training plans, assist in implementing the Support System for teachers, and answer questions.


What else does the Teacher Support and Assessment offer?


Sponsors training programs for the veteran teachers who assist and support first- and second-year teachers. Additionally, offers specialized training for site administrators in participating schools, for seasoned educators who assess the performance of new teachers, and for local managers who initiate new projects.


The program was designed to provide group and individual support for beginning teachers working in central-city schools and to establish a program of formative assessment to guide professional growth.


Benefits to participants:

– A collegial and nurturing program that provides an informal network for new teachers

– Individualized in-classroom support from mentor teachers, University coaches, and district resource teacher coaches

– Nonevaluative and nonjudgmental assistance

– Monthly cluster group meetings which address inductees’ individual professional development goals

– Two units of district salary advancement credit (tuition fee included)

– Opportunity for professional growth for renewal of clear credential

– Mini-grants for classroom materials

– Four release days to attend all-day seminars and mentor observations

– Opportunities for observing in classrooms and conferring with university-based and district coaches, other beginning teachers, mentors, and project resource teachers

– Opportunities to document professional growth through development of a personal portfolio

– All benefits of the district’s New Teacher Induction program


Inductee support


District mentors and school site coaches customize support to each teacher’s needs. We never play to the negatives, we avoid getting hung up on the discouraging realities of the urban classroom. Instead, we emphasize what we can do to help inductees have a successful year.


For every cluster of teachers, a district mentor is either on-site or comes on a regular basis to observe classes (at least once per month) and provide in-class technical assistance; a faculty member serves as coach, helping teachers with development of their professional portfolios and written reflection on practice, and visiting their classrooms two to three times per month; and a school site resource teacher supports new participants. Mentors and coaches are trained together during two days of diversity training, one day of support provider training, two days of portfolio development training, plus at least four additional staff meetings each year.


Checklist for Developing an Induction Program


Use the following summary as a checklist for developing your program:


– Understand the value of developing an induction program in your district.

– Put together a planning team to design, coordinate, and integrate program components.

– Gather as much information as possible to determine teacher needs and district needs.

– Collaborate with partner organizations.

– Determine who will manage your program and how it will be funded.

– Design a program in which orientation, assistance, training, and assessment are not separate, unrelated elements, but parts of a whole.

– Plan an induction program that is a multiyear, developmental process.

– Ensure that school site administrators understand how to orient inductees, create supportive working conditions for them, and effectively meet their professional needs.

– Provide a first-class mentoring program, backed by funding adequate to serve all eligible inductees.

– Link inductee evaluation to district- and state-level standards.

– Invest in technology.

– Evaluate program effectiveness.


Jeff C. Palmer is a teacher, success coach, trainer, Certified Master of Web Copywriting and founder of Jeff is a prolific writer, Senior Research Associate and Infopreneur having written many eBooks, articles and special reports.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *