The one thing that appears to be the main reason new teachers decide to leave after their first year is due to lack of support and reliability. Induction and mentoring have always existed, but may not have been enforced as it is today. Even though higher education has taken significant steps to educate beginning teachers, many of them still go into the classroom with doubt and misconceptions. What many districts and states need to understand is that they cannot continuously afford to hire more teachers if they cannot keep the ones they currently have from leaving. Therefore, it is up to these districts and states to form strong and consistent mentor and induction programs to develop new teachers and show them how they can be strong in their abilities.
Inductions programs are set up more for first year teachers. These programs consist of workshops, internships, and observation of a classroom. These help new teachers to face possible challenges and how to address important issues. According to Kauchak & Eggan (2005), successful induction programs how many characteristics. One example would be the special attention first-time teachers receive at the beginning of their career that can help them to link their performances to standards of the state and district. Another example would be how universities and schools work together by creating clinical learning environments for beginning teachers. The relationship provides professional development for both K-12 teachers and faculty of the university (Kauchak & Eggan, 2005).
Mentors provide more a personal, as well as individual long-term support for a new teacher. Through a mentoring program, first-year teachers are assigned to another teacher who are more experienced and are able to offer guidance and support. Mentors for first-year teachers are often compensated for their work. Also, mentors are also given opportunities to grow professionally through classes that can help to become more effective mentors. According to Wong (2004), mentoring places more of a focus on survival and support. In mentoring programs, spending is limited on resources, while in an induction program, there is extensive investment. Mentors are considered to be more of a safety net for new teachers. Mentoring does not have much of a purpose or goal for student achievement. As Wong (2004) states in his report, “Mentoring fails to provide evidence of a connection between well-executed professionals, learning communities, and student learning.” Mentoring is not induction; it’s just part of the induction process.
One thing to keep in mind about mentoring and induction programs is that both help reduce first-year attrition. According to the Department of Education (2006), between the years of 2000 and 2005, attrition rates have dropped almost forty percent; however, it is important to keep in mind that the programs tested did not consist of just one opponent, but rather support for long-term sustainable results. In the Title II Partnership Grants Program, successful studies were made, including a view of critical opponents, which showed the program was not one-sided. In order to improve programs that are already in existence begins in assessing the success and failures.
If programs incorporate only in-services or workshops in order to support new teachers, then to add a mentor can make a big difference according to statistics of successful programs (Kauchak & Eggan, 2005). One example of attrition rate is from Islip Public Schools in New York. In the school year 2001-02, Islip Public Schools lost three teachers out of sixty-eight teachers hired. A second example from the same school year is in Newport-Mesa School District in California, where the district only a total of five teachers out of one hundred forty-eight that were hired (Wong, 2004). What these districts have in common is that they have developed strong and sustained induction program. They continue to train according to a structured training program that is part of the induction into the vision and the culture.
Support that is available to new teachers varies; however there are some states that mandate participation. One example would be in Hopewell, Virginia. Every new teacher has access to a variety of help and support. Each new teacher has a personal mentor they can go to for immediate and simple help. To have an assigned mentor is extremely, important in helping to ease anxiety and to serve as a confidante. Also, new teachers can turn to four “coaches” in the school who are trained, each with expertise in classroom management and instructional skills. There are five lead teachers, who are also trained and compensated, with knowledge in English, math, science, technology, and social studies. In addition, new teachers receive assistance from staff developers as well as administrators from the central office (Wong, 2004).
Dallas Public Schools have a New Teacher Initiative which is a multifaceted program with an assortment of activities and people that are integrated to help teachers. The instructional facilitators act as an emergency 911 squad of twelve trained teachers who will respond in less than seventy-two hours to the teacher in need of help. The facilitators work with the building administration, the department chairperson, and other teachers to help out the teacher in need (Wong, 2004).
As a paraprofessional, I will work to earn my licensure, as well as learn about the mentoring and induction programs that are available in my state. My goal is to become a teacher-leader and to earn a certificate from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Once I have taught for several years and gain experience, I hope to take on the role as a mentor to first-time teachers.
There are many mentor induction programs that have been deemed successful; however, there are a variety of activities that are designed to help improve teaching, as well as the schools. It is important for beginning teachers to be aware of professional programs that are available to them. School districts and states need to understand that in order to retain teachers, they need to form strong programs to help build the teachers up. Induction will continue to happen whether or not there is a proper system in place to support the process for beginning teaches. Teachers will adopt teaching practices and routines with or without guidance. If the program fails them, then the schools and students will suffer.
Department of Education. (2006). Partnerships for Reform: Changing Teacher Preparation Through The Title II HEA Partnership Program: Final Report. Retrieved on May 15, 2010 from: http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/teaching/title2hea/changing-teacher-prep-final.pdf
Kauchak, D. & Eggen, P. (2005). Introduction to Teaching: Becoming a Professional (2nd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.
Wong, H. (2004, March). Induction Programs That Keep New. NASSP Bulletin, 88(638).