by Harry and Rosemary
Achievement Is Very Simple (Part 2)
The Importance of Teachers
This we know! Teacher quality is the most critical
factor by which to improve student achievement or close the achievement
- Teacher. It is the teacher, what the
teacher knows and can do, that is the most important factor
in improving student achievement.
- Instruction. It is how the teacher
instructs, not the program, the size of the school or classroom,
or the demographics of the students that determines student
The success of your students depends on the success of your teachers.
- Differences in teacher effectiveness are the single largest
factor affecting academic growth of populations of students.
- A study of the Denver Public Schools found that teachers accounted
for more than twice the total variation in student test score
change than did the schools.
- Students who have several effective teachers in a row make
dramatic achievement gains, while those who have even two ineffective
teachers in a row lose significant ground.
- A student who is taught by an ineffective teacher for two
years in a row can never recover the learning lost during those
- Based on research in Texas, the importance of having an effective
teacher instead of an average teacher for four or five years
in a row could essentially close the gap in math performance
between students from low-income and high-income households.
- The differences in impact for the most effective teachers,
the top one-sixth of teachers, can be nine months or more, essentially
a full year of learning.
- The ineffective teachers, the bottom one-sixth of teachers,
produce a negative impact on students over the year in their
- As a teacher’s effectiveness increases, the first group
to benefit from this improvement is the lower achieving students.
Therefore, quality teaching is the
most critical means by which to improve student learning
and to close achievement gaps. You achieve student
success through teacher success.
Administrators. Prepare your next group of new
teachers to be effective teachers with a comprehensive induction
Teach the teachers well and they will teach the students
Everyone trains their new employees. Starbucks
trains their new coffee makers, called baristas, for one week.
An airline trains its pilots for the entire time they are with
Can you imagine an airline that does not train its pilots?
Instead, they give each new pilot a mentor and they are told to
contact their mentor for help if they are in trouble at 35,000
Mentors are important, just as the frosting on a cake is important.
But, there is more to a cake than the frosting, just as new teachers
need more than a mentor.
Mentoring teaches teachers how to
Induction teaches teachers how to thrive.
Studies have shown that mentoring does not teach for
teacher effectiveness; rather, it is designed to answer questions
of survival. For a teacher to be effective, the
teacher needs to go beyond the stage of survival and into a stage
of being a master teacher.
Ted Britton at WestEd reports that mentoring, in and of itself,
has no purpose, goal, or agenda for student learning. There
is no evidence that mentoring leads to improved student learning.
For student learning to take place, all beginning teachers must
- learn to teach to established standards,
- evaluate the effects of their instruction on student performance,
- use student achievement data for planning and curriculum,
- tailor instruction to address specific learning needs, and
- learn how to thrive in the culture of the school.
This kind of learning can only happen in a comprehensive
Charlotte Neill, superintendent of the Carlsbad Municipal Schools
in New Mexico, says that in their New Teacher Induction Program,
“We teach our teachers how to teach the required benchmarks
and standards, manage the classroom environment, set appropriate
procedures, and maximize instructional time. We are a very
cohesive district and we want new staff to feel wanted, valued,
and respected by the way we support them through the induction
In the school year 2001-2002, Carlsbad hired 30 new teachers
and lost only one. The teachers are not only learning in
the induction program, they are staying in Carlsbad.
How Does McDonalds Do It?
It is imperative to keep teachers who have been effectively
trained. Remember, it takes four to six years to
train an effective teacher. When you have a school with
a turnover rate of 20 percent or more each year, which is common
in urban schools, you never have a staff of effective teachers.
Effective administrators are eager to collaborate with their
teachers and even teach them. They are active learners themselves,
cultivating their own professional growth throughout their careers.
Finally, they are role models, instilling a passion for learning
in their teachers. Read “Even Superintendents Do It”
For the good people who keep preaching about mentors, reflect
on this: When you have a staff that turns over every three years,
who’s the mentor?
Now, reflect on this. The average employee stays at McDonald’s
for 2.5 months. Yet, every new employee knows what to do.
It doesn’t take much to reflect on how McDonald’s
Good administrators do not usurp their leadership role
by simply giving each new teacher a mentor without rigorous training
For students to achieve academically,
administrators must have a clear idea of what kind of instructional
practice they want to produce, and then design a structure to
go with it.
That structure is a comprehensive induction program. Administrators,
staff developers, and teacher-leaders must have the knowledge
and skills to direct an induction process that creates and supports
a results-driven, team-focused, professional learning, and collaborative
culture that is part of every teacher’s work day with student
achievement as the focus.
What New Teachers Really Want
If what teachers know about teaching is learned on
the job, then why not systematically teach new teachers on the
job with a sustained induction program?
Effective induction programs not only retain highly qualified
new teachers, they also ensure that these teachers are teaching
effectively from the very first day of school.
The most compelling and successful way to keep good teachers
is with a structured and sustained induction program that typically
lasts three years. The purpose of induction is
to prepare and acculturate new teachers to teaching, insuring
their success from their very first day of teaching and introducing
them to the responsibilities, missions, and philosophies of their
schools and districts.
There are many components in an induction program. Two
of the most important and requested components are demonstration
classrooms and networking.
New teachers want more than a mentor.
New teachers tell us that after a month or two with a mentor,
what they want more than anything else is to
- watch other teacher’s teach and
- work with other teachers, new and veteran, in a network as
People crave connection. New teachers
want more than a job. They want hope. They want to
contribute to a group. They want to make a difference.
Induction programs provide that connection, because they
are structured around a Learning Community where new and veteran
teachers treat each other with respect and all contributions are
Induction is a group activity. As such, it fosters and
continues an integrated professional culture. New teachers
want to learn; they are eager to contribute; they are anxious
to help make a difference. Most importantly, they want to
belong to a community of learners.
New teachers want to observe others,
to be observed by others, and to be part of networks or study
groups where all teachers share together, grow together, learn
to respect each other's work, and collaboratively become leaders
American education typically views teachers as independent operators,
encouraged to be creative, and expected to do a good job behind
closed doors. Collaboration is rare. Loneliness
and lack of support further exacerbate the problems of beginning
Susan Moore Johnson says, “Our work suggests that schools
would do better to rely less on one-on-one mentoring and, instead,
develop schoolwide structures that promote the frequent exchange
of information and ideas among novice and veteran teachers.”
New teacher induction programs build a community of teachers,
bringing together beginning teachers, experienced teachers, and
school leaders in a collaborative setting where they can observe
each other teach and engage in a culture of cooperation and continuous
Only with a structured, sustained, multiyear induction
program will we create a professional culture in which
teachers thrive and grow throughout their careers – a critical
element in reducing the exceedingly high rate of teacher attrition,
resulting in quality teaching in all classrooms.
Attention New Teachers
Attention New Teachers: If you are a new teacher looking
for a teaching job, you need to ask if the district has an induction
program. Districts with an induction program care
that you succeed.
Please do not be so naïve to think that you can succeed
on your own without help.
When you interview for a job, there are ten questions
you need to ask. To see what these questions are,
go to “How to Recognize Where You Want to Be” (http://teachers.net/wong/APR01)
and “$50,000 to Replace Each Teacher” (http://teachers.net/wong/MAY02).
Three Successful Induction Programs
Student learning improves when students
are rigorously taught by HIGHLY TRAINED teachers who are effective.
The following three school districts have highly successful new
teacher induction programs.
Islip Public Schools. Linda Lippman is
the director of human resources and the director of the new teacher
induction program for this New York school district. She
has the responsibility of training the teachers she hires and
her efforts have paid off.
In the 1998-1999 school year before a formal induction program
was installed, Islip retained 29 of the 46 new teachers hired.
In the subsequent three school years from 1999 to 2002 when the
formal, three-year new teacher induction program was in place,
they retained 65 teachers out of 68 hired.
New teachers constantly work on team building and problem solving
techniques with model lessons and sharing sessions where they
“steal” from each other, networking and building respect
with each other, the veteran teachers, and the administration.
The skill-building activities are aligned to the standards required
by the district. The benefits to the teachers are evident,
because the Islip schools have seen a resulting improvement
in student achievement, which the central office views as resulting
from improved teacher performance. The difference
in student achievement is shown.
The New York Regents exams represent the gold standard in academic
achievement. To graduate with a prestigious Regents diploma,
students must pass five state exams with a score of 65 or better.
|Regents Diplomas Earned
GOAL – 93 percent
The major focus of the Islip induction program is
to immerse new teachers in the district’s culture and
to unite them with everyone in the district as a cohesive, supportive
New teachers quickly become a part of the district’s
“family.” Induction fosters a sense of belonging among
teachers, which in turn fosters a sense of belonging among students.
Homewood-Flossmoor High School District
The Homewood-Flossmoor High School District in Flossmoor, Illinois,
has a lifelong professional development program called Homewood-Flossmoor
The Homewood-Flossmoor High School District uses the North Central
Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL) model, “Professional
Development: Learning from the Best” (Hassel, 2002), to
structure their induction and professional development program.
The model answers the question, “What do we need to do to
improve student learning?” To formulate a clear plan
of what kind of instructional practice they want to promote, they
design an induction and professional development structure with
the following plan for improving student learning:
What are our student educational
What are our actual student
What are our student learning
What staff skills are needed to close
What are our actual staff skills?
Our Professional Development Needs
As stated before, effective induction programs have an
organized plan. In the case of the Homewood-Flossmoor
district, a formula is used to determine what professional development
plan is to be used to produce effective teachers for student learning.
When schools and school districts have an organized, coherent,
and sustained induction and professional development process,
they will most likely demonstrate improved teaching and student
The Homewood-Flossmoor High School District is a three-time distinguished
school award winner.
Flowing Wells Schools. The Flowing Wells
Schools are located in Tucson, Arizona, and they have what is
often called the “mother-of-all” induction programs.
They have had an induction program for 20 years and the program
is so comprehensive, coherent, and sustained that people flock
to their annual induction workshop every spring to learn about
how to structure an effective induction program.
The director of the induction program for all 20 years has been
Susie Heintz. Every teacher and administrator has been though
“Susie School.” The result is that the Flowing
Wells Schools have produced more teacher-of-the-year nominees
and winners than any other school district in Arizona.
In their eight-year (that’s correct) induction process,
teachers are taken through stages of development, from novice,
advanced beginner, competent, proficient, to expert teacher.
Information on their induction workshop can be obtained by contacting
Susie Heintz at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by fax at 520-690-2400.
Full details on their induction process can be read in New
Teacher Induction: How to Train, Support, and Retain New Teachers,
by Breaux and Wong. A sample can be seen on www.NewTeacher.com,
The True Benefit of Induction
It’s so simple, yet so profound. Teachers
teach and students learn. Improve the teacher and you improve
Since it is the teacher who holds the key to student achievement,
a district must have an induction program that immediately focuses
the new teacher on a district’s mandate and goal of student
The induction program then is to flow seamlessly into
a lifelong professional development program. The
process of lifelong professional development must become a priority—for
the sake our students. The students deserve no less than
the very best.
For more information on new teacher induction, please
go to www.NewTeacher.com.
In particular, access
April 8, 2005
“New Teacher Induction: The Foundation for Comprehensive,
Coherent, and Sustained Professional Development”
February 1, 2005
"Significant Research and Readings on Comprehensive
January 21, 2005
"What the World Can Teach Us About New Teacher Induction"
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Gazette Articles by Harry & Rosemary Wong:
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