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Teachers Network Leadership Institute:
Action Research:
Assessment & Preparation for Assessment: Beginning Teacher Induction: Collaboration for Success

by Marcey Regan (Chicago)

Lynn Cherkasky-Davis and Marcia ReganUnderlying Criteria
Problem: The Plight of the Beginning Teacher
State Licensure - The Opportunity for Change
A Story of Support
Identifying the Position
Elements of a Beginning Teacher Induction Component - The Strategy
Assessment - How Beginning Teacher Induction Programs will be Assessed
Implementation of a Specific Format Must be Local
Formal Illinois Recommendations
Recommendations
References and Resources
Footnotes

Underlying Criteria

Every policy has both macro and micro implications. Macro because it should contribute to the systemic ordering of the institution and micro because it represents a concrete proposal to change or create a particular program. The policy that I propose fulfills both those criteria:

On the Macro level, it supports an underlying principle of "colleagueship" which has been at the heart of the systemic changes taking place in the major institutions in our society.

It moves us away from the bureaucratic model that has dominated education and which has emphasized autocratic management and individual isolation. "Colleagueship" assumes collaboration and teaming and recognizes that creative teaching and learning is spawned through professional interaction and interrelationships.

On the micro level, I am proposing a Beginning Teacher Induction Program which has as its basis "colleagueship" and as its goal, the professional development of novice teachers and the re-invigoration of veteran teachers. "If a caring, competent, and qualified teacher for every child is the most important ingredient in education reform, it should no longer be the one most frequently overlooked."1

Practice is moving toward teaching as collegial - characterized by sharing, working in teams, observing peers, and studying with colleagues.2
Problem: The Plight of the Beginning Teacher

Right away our graduates deal with problems of isolation, loneliness, time demands and day-to-day dealing with the kids that will drive many of them out of the profession. Many don't last.3

With some exceptions, new teachers are overwhelmed with practical problems of class management, behavioral problems, ancillary staff, etc. In the face of daily stress the beginning practitioner can very quickly become isolated and alienated from colleagues. It is not surprising that "nearly 30% of those to elect education as their career choice, choose to leave the field in the first few years."4

New teachers historically enter the classroom armed with a fair amount of educational theory, a small amount of practical experience and a great deal of idealism. They are met by forces that unnerve their skill, challenge their experience and corrode their enthusiasm.

Christine Etapa, a devoted 1st year teacher with a sterling academic record and plenty of experience with public schools, has found her debut season an exercise in frustration. She's wrestled with how best to reach her students; she's switched her instructional style and achieved but mixed success. There's been only a thin lifeline to her colleagues, the principal, the education college that she attended and the Board of Education itself. Etapa's experience is common.5
Without a mentoring system in place, these teachers will never grow professionally, and they will probably leave the teaching profession.

State Licensure - The Opportunity for Change

Recognizing that change is needed, The State of Illinois is proposing a licensure system in which beginning teachers, upon completing their preservice university education would receive an "initial license" followed by a two to three year mentored induction period. It is anticipated that a standard license will be issued only after the beginning teacher has demonstrated competence in content, pedagogy and teaching performance. Thus licensure would be knowledge-based and performance-based. No longer will "a diploma, a recommendation from your college professor and a $30 fee make you a state-sanctioned teacher."6 There is every reason to believe that some similar form of licensing will be prescribed by the majority of states.

The Report of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future recommends that "we renew and enforce rigorous standards for teacher preparation, initial licensing and continuing development. Standards for both students and teachers form the linchpin for transforming the way teachers work and schools operate."7 Knowledge in subject areas and teaching skills based on standards for accomplished teaching, developed by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, should become the basis for induction into the profession of education. In addition to the traditional requirements centering around knowledge of subject matter and child development, teachers will have to demonstrate skills to qualify for licensing.

The National Commission Report recommends that "teacher education be redesigned so that the ten million teachers to be hired in the next decade are adequately prepared and so that all teachers have access to high-quality learning opportunities..."8

A Story of Support

Joanne sat in my classroom very close to tears. She had been seriously reconsidering her career choice. Last year Joanne completed her clinical university experience working with myself and our team of eight teachers. Although now in her fifth and final year of teacher education, she could barely face another day in her assigned student teaching position. Joanne had become accustomed to the collegiality of a team teaching setting. As a clinical observer, she had participated fully in the decision making of the team that focused on curriculum, scheduling, parent involvement, community awareness, funding and individual student achievement.

Unfortunately, no attempt had been made to coordinate her philosophy of education with her assigned cooperating teacher placement. She came to me requesting that I intercede with the University and arrange for placement within the team teaching setting at my school.

Joanne is representative of many candidates in education. They take a proactive stance and seek to find those partnerships that will best meet their needs and thus result in success with colleagues, as well as students. Joanne had demonstrated the importance of mentoring and aligning the values of the mentor and the mentee. I was honored that she chose me as her mentor.

The University contacted me about Matthew when he notified the professor that he was withdrawing from education. Matthew felt he was functioning as a teacher-assistant, following the teacher's plans, unable to address the students with his lessons, his strengths, his choices. He felt alienated and isolated and saw no way out.

Matthew came to observe our open-classroom, which had become a nine person teaching team with the addition of Joanne. Within one week he canceled his withdrawal and he was reassigned to our team. He worked primarily with two teachers from the team who supported his teaching style and enlisted his expertise in science in their on-going design of the science curriculum.

Matthew and Joanne graduated in April. However, both chose to stay with our teaching team through the end of the school year in June. When asked, "Why?," they responded that the team was counting on them. They had become empowered and enculturated within the setting of my school site. I know both will be exemplary teachers as they seek their way through their chosen career, teaching. They will not choose to be isolated.

Coincidentally, this year I was a candidate for National Board Certification. It was the support of my team that allowed me to face the challenge of my career. Both Joanne and Matthew assisted me with learning and pursuing the most current educational theories and practices. In teaming, the roles of mentor and novice are interactional. Collaboration is the key to success for everyone.

Identifying the Position

In view of the needs of the beginning teacher and the state mandated requirements for teacher licensing, it is crucial that we develop a comprehensive policy for the continuing education of new teachers. Such a policy should have as its primary focus the incorporation of new teachers into every phase of school life.

Beginning teachers need support to overcome the isolation and alienation that has been documented in the report of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future and they need assistance to meet the expectations of a profession that demands knowledge, skill and accountability.

These needs can be addressed in a Beginning Teacher Induction Component that is an integral part of every school's organization. It is more than a program, it is an essential part of the "colleagueship" that should shape the direction and management of every school.

Elements of a Beginning Teacher Induction Component - The Strategy

Two elements are essential to any Induction Program and they establish the parameters within which the specifics of a school's culture dictate its format and its daily actualization:

  • Developing a collegial responsibility
    The National Commission Report insists that the educational communities must "get serious about standards, for both students and teachers."9 These standards provide direction for both beginning and experienced professionals.

    Conditions must be provided for beginning teachers to recognize, practice and assess the standards of knowledge and performance required of a skilled and dedicated professional staff. This process is provided through the time and support of and interaction with colleagues.

    "Colleagueship" is the systemic principle that provides the organizational basis for Beginning Teacher Induction because it is truly the organizational principle for any effective school.

  • Formalizing a Mentoring Program
    The mentoring role is a unique relationship between professional colleagues, one more experienced than the other. It is a relationship built on mutual trust and respect.

    The mentor does not assume the role of an administrator, supervisor or instructor, but takes leadership in building a relationship among colleagues who are inquiring into the best practice in teaching. Each member of that relationship brings important knowledge and skills to that inquiry.10

Assessment - How Beginning Teacher Induction Programs will be Assessed

Personal Evaluation

  • Personal observations in the form of reports and/or journals by both mentors and novices detailing and evaluating their collaboration and its effect on the collegiality of the school setting
Objective Evaluations
  • Evaluation of program outcomes such as teacher retention, and success in demonstrating competency as based on INTASC standards
  • Evidentiary documentation that a clear link was exhibited between the standards and a coherent set of high-quality experiences; diagnoses of candidate needs and progress tied to individualized developmental experiences; and approaches that are standards-driven rather than time-driven.
Implementation of a Specific Format Must be Local

It is crucial to recognize that collegiality and mentoring are common principles that take on a specific form and structure within the context of the culture of each school.

Thus, it would be presumptuous to legislate the specifics of a Teacher Induction Program. It violates the nature of "colleagueship" and reduces us to the dictates of a sterile centralized bureaucracy.

Broad recommendations can direct schools to establish Induction Programs while leaving the specifics to local conditions. The recent Illinois experience may be helpful in that regard.

Formal Illinois Recommendations
The Illinois State Superintendent of Schools conducted a comprehensive review of teacher preparation, licensure, and professional development in Illinois. The purpose was to make recommendations to help teachers develop the professional qualities they require to meet the learning needs of young people in Illinois schools. Those recommendations for improvements were reported to the Illinois State Board of Education. That report, published in August 1996, is called "Rising to the Challenge: The Future of Illinois Teachers."

One of the ten recommendations focuses on new teacher induction. The Executive Summary advocates that each school district in the state "design and implement an induction program for its beginning teachers and for teachers newly hired to the districts...School districts will be held accountable for the quality and effectiveness of their induction programs through a review process to be developed collaboratively by the State, school districts and institutions of higher education."11

Instituting induction in Illinois tops the list of recommendations being crafted by the state task force on post graduate training.12
Recommendations

Addressing the issue of New Teacher Induction, the following recommendations need to be implemented:

  • Mandate a system of mentoring for new teachers and newly hired teachers to the district and school
  • Facilitate partnerships with Teacher Training Institutions, the School District and participating school sites
    1. Provide ongoing professional development among the Teacher Training Institution, school system, and school based participants
  • Provide released time for:
    1. Collaboration between mentors and novices
    2. Collaboration between district wide new teachers on topics of concern
    3. Collaboration between district wide mentors on topics of concern
    4. Participation in workshops, courses, conferences
    5. Observation of classrooms, reflection, evaluation
  • Develop realistic goals and expectations for the mentors and novices:
    1. Goals should be based on standards for teachers as developed by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
    2. Goals for students determined by state and local standards
    3. Goals for progress reports developed collaboratively on site among mentor, novice and administration
  • Utilize a system of preparation for evaluation and assessment and develop support systems to prepare novices for licensure
  • Provide a forum for review and evaluation by all participants
  • Secure funds from state and public school funding and private foundations
Professional development experiences should enable teacher collaboration and reflection, to be grounded in actual teaching practice and community needs, and reflect the expanding scope of teacher responsibilities expressed in both the INTASC and National Board standards. Professional development must be grounded in a school environment that allows for, indeed requires, professional consultation, collegiality, and collaboration. Such collegiality and collaboration should be part of the workplace of every teacher and include ongoing work on immediate problems of practice, as well as teacher studies and projects regarding curriculum and student issues, and teacher participation in activities like the development of authentic assessments.13

References and Resources

Ambach, Gordon, "Standards for Teachers; Potential for Improving Practice," in Phi Delta Kappan, November 1996, pp. 207-210.

Bradley, Ann, "Licensure Pact Pays Dividends for Teaching," Education Week, May 21, 1997.

CPRE Policy Brief: Helping Teachers Teach Well: Transforming Professional Development. Professional Development Today. June, 1995.

Darling-Hammond, Linda. "What Matters Most: A Competent Teacher for Every Child," in Phi Delta Kappan, November 1996, pp. 193-200.

Darling-Hammond, Linda and Milbrey McLaughlin. "Policies That Support Professional Development In an Era of Reform," in Phi Delta Kappan, April 1995.

Elmore, Richard and Milbrey McLaughlin. "Steady Work: Policy, Practice and the Reform of American Education," Santa Barbara, CA: The RAND Corporation, 1988.

Freiberg, Melissa R.; and Others, "Where Do We Go from Here? Decisions and Dilemmas of Teacher Mentors," paper presentedthe Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York, April 1996.

Ganser, Tom. "A Road Map for Designing Quality Mentoring Programs for Beginning Teachers," Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Wisconsin Association for Middle Level Education, April 1995.

Haberman, Martin. "Star Teachers of Children in Poverty," Kappa Delta Pi West Lafayette, Indiana, 1995.

INTASC: Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium NEXT STEPS: Moving Toward Performance-Based Licensing in Teaching, Chief State School Officers Council, 9/25/95.

Lieberman, Ann, Linda Darling-Hammond and Milbrey McLaughlin. "Practices and Policies to Support Teacher Development in an Era of Reform," in NCREST Reprint Series, July 1995.

Little, Judith Warren. "Teachers' Professional Development in a Climate of Educational Reform" in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Summer 1993, Vol. 15, pp. 129-151.

Moir, Ellen and Stobbe, Colleen, "Professional Growth for NewTeachers: Support and Assessment through Collegial Partnerships," in Teacher Education Quarterly, Fall, 1995, Vol. 22, pp. 83-91.

Musthafa, Bachrudin. "Assessing and Assisting Novice Teachers: A Framework for Staff Development," Position Paper, 1995.

National Commission on Teaching and America's Future. What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future. New York: National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 1996.

New Teacher Support Program; A Partnership in Professional Teacher Development Initiated by the CPS Teachers Academy, CTU Quest Center, and the UIC College of Education, April 1997.

New Teachers, New Standards, and New Expectation for Chicago Public Schools: A Proposal to the McDougal Family Foundation for New Teacher Support and Development, April 3, 1997.

Pick, Grant, "Mentors, Internships, Wave of Future," in Catalyst: Voices of Chicago School Reform, May 1996.

Pick, Grant, "New Teachers Sink or Swim," in Catalyst: Voices of Chicago School Reform, May 1996.

Proposal to the Illinois State Board of Education. Illinois Framework for Restructuring the Recruitment, Preparation, Licensure and Continuing Professional Development of Teachers. October, 1996.

Shanker, Albert. "Quality Assurance: What Must Be Done to Strengthen the Teaching Profession," in Phi Delta Kappan, November 1996, pp 220-224.

Tauber, Susan M., "The Mentor-Protégé Relationship and Its Effects on the Experienced Teacher," Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, April 1996.

Teacher to Teacher; A Publication for Teachers from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Fall, 1996.

University of Illinois at Chicago and Illinois State Board of Education Task Force on Teacher Preparation, Certification, and Professional Development. Rising to the Challenge: The Future of Illinois Teachers. Final Report, August 1996.

Wilmore, Elaine. "Brave New World: Field-based Teacher-Preparation," in Educational Leadership, March 1996.

Wise, Arthur. "Building a System of Quality Assurance for the Teaching Profession: Moving into the 21st Century" in Phi Delta Kappan, November 1996, pp. 191-192.

Wise, Arthur and Jane Leibbrand. "Profession-Based Accreditation; A Foundation for High-Quality Teaching," in Phi Delta Kappan, November 1996, pp. 202-206.

Wulf, Steve. "A Lesson Plan; Neglected on Most Campuses, Teacher Education is the Key to Better Schools." in Time, May 26,1997 Vol. 149 No. 21.

Footnotes

1. Report of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, "What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future," September 1996, p. 7.
2. Arthur E. Wise and Jane Leibbrand, "Profession-Based Accreditation; A Foundation for High-Quality Teaching," Phi Delta Kappan, November 1996, p. 204.
3. Michael Carl, Dean of Education, Northeastern University, "New Teachers Sink or Swim," May 1996, p. 6.
4. Report of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, "What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future," September 1996, p.14.
5. Grant Pick, "A 1st-year teacher's saga: Long hours, little support," Catalyst: Voices of Chicago School Reform, May 1996, p. 4.
6. ibid. p.10.
7. Report of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, "What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future," September 1996, p. 17.
8. Linda Darling-Hammond, "What Matters Most: A Competent Teacher for Every Child," in Phi Delta Kappan, November 1996, p. 196.
9. Report of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, "What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future," September 1996, p. 17.
10 Special thanks is given to Allen Bearden, Ph.D., Director of the Chicago Teachers Union Quest Center for information on the Teacher Mentoring Program in Chicago for which he is serving as Director.
11 University of Illinois at Chicago and Illinois State Board of Education Task Force on Teacher Preparation, Certification, and Professional Development, "Rising to the Challenge: The Future of Illinois Teachers" Final Report, August, 1996.
12. Grant Pick, "Mentors, internships wave of future," in Catalyst: Voices of Chicago School Reform, May 1996, p. 11.
13. ibid. p. 17.

 

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