Creating a Research-based Teacher Induction Program

Donahue, Tammy, Administration and Supervision - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Duke, Daniel, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

New teachers often leave the profession within their first five years. There are a host of reasons why teachers decide to leave, including low salaries, lack of resources, poor working conditions and the stresses associated with high needs students and their families. Another reason for teacher attrition is the lack of support for novice teachers. To assist Lincoln County Schools* in its quest to expand the induction program to reflect a growing understanding of teacher learning through the creation of professional learning communities that emphasize collaboration, this study investigated the current offerings of the New Teacher Induction Program in Lincoln County through the perspectives of novice teachers that had recently completed their first year under the program and of principals and a central office administrator that participated in the program as well.
A mixed methods study was conducted, and both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. Analysis of the data helped to answer the research question: What does the current induction program in Lincoln County provide? New teachers, principals, and the Director for Student Achievement and Accountability responded to surveys and interview questions. The surveys also contained questions that called for narrative responses from the participants. Survey and interview questions focused on the themes of organizational socialization, adult learning, mentoring, and the induction program.
New teacher and administrator responses indicated that, overall, new teachers were satisfied with support given to them during their first year in Lincoln County. Administrator interviews and new teacher surveys agreed that a culture of support was developed for new teachers. Most new teachers were also involved in goal setting and reflection on how to achieve their goals. New teachers also found their learning to be useful and they felt valued and respected. Most new teachers also said that their mentors provided guidance in teaching practice.
Some areas of concern were revealed through an analysis of the data. Perhaps the greatest area of concern was that new teachers were not given ample opportunities to observe their more experienced peers or be observed by them. Data analysis also revealed that at least half of the mentors did not collaborate with novice teachers on lesson planning and teaching lessons. Few new teachers felt that their perspectives on their own learning were sought.
Participants answered questions in regard to what they would like to see in their program and what they presently value most in their program. All data were compared to research-based practices in order to provide Lincoln County leaders with information that could be useful in improving their current induction program.
Recommendations include creating a vision for the induction program and developing specific goals to enact that vision and developing a plan for a structured induction program that defines roles for the mentors, principals, and mentees. Providing quality, structured mentoring that uses established, rigorous criteria in mentor selection is also recommended, as well as providing protected time for mentors to work with new teachers. It is recommended that support and training be provided for mentors, that mentors/mentees are matched with a common instructional focus, and that expectations be established for mentors and mentees. It is also recommended that data such as feedback from observations be used to identify successes and limitations of the mentoring experience and to identify new teacher needs. The establishment of professional learning communities in which peer observations are conducted and followed by reflective dialogue on the part of the mentor and mentee is also recommended. The final recommendation is to provide intensive and ongoing professional development that includes new teacher and mentor identified needs as well as working in the area of goal setting.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
new teacher induction, mentoring, organizational socialization
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