Teaching New Teachers How to Succeed
An Intensive, Intentional Program
Six years ago, Tara Link started the S.H.I.N.E. (Supporting, Helping, and Inspiring New Educators) program with virtually nothing. She used our book, New Teacher Induction, as her main resource. Click here for a preview of the book. She contacted the Flowing Wells School District that was described in the book and has been featured in a few of our past columns.
The then director of the Flowing Wells new teacher induction program, Kevin Stoltzfus, coached Tara via email and phone to get her S.H.I.N.E. program going and growing. The Flowing Wells “Institute for Teacher Renewal and Growth” program has been the most consistent program we have ever encountered. They train teachers to be successful and have been doing it for over 30 years. That’s consistency! Click here to read more about the Flowing Wells induction and professional development program.
The Moberly School District is a small rural district in Missouri with 2000 students, divided among seven district buildings, each headed by its own principal. Yet what they do to help new teachers exceeds what larger school districts neglect to do—have an organized program to prepare and sustain new teachers.
The inspiration for Moberly’s induction program can be attributed to the superintendent, Gena McCluskey. Gena had seen such a concept described at a conference and brought the idea back to her district.
Tara applied to be the coordinator and was hired. She created the induction program from the ground up using research and feedback. Having a central person to oversee the program has allowed for communication among the seven buildings throughout the district to ensure consistency in new teacher support, but an added benefit has been a liaison of resources for all teachers within the district. In addition, the support and efforts from the building principals and district administration to ensure the fidelity of the program has been a large contributor to its success.
In six years, Tara says that they are the only district of its small, rural size in Missouri to have such an intensive, intentional program in place.
Teachers who complete the induction program in its entirety, along with four years of teaching experience, receive the hours, training, and guidance necessary for certificate renewal.
Very simply, Moberly has a well-organized new teacher induction program, S.H.I.N.E. (Supporting, Helping, and Inspiring New Educators), and Katherine Smith feels she is truly one of the luckiest teachers in the profession to have found her way to the Moberly School District.
Katherine starts each class with a posted agenda, but she did not know to do this when she began teaching. “I never would have thought the impact of putting our class agenda and schedule on the board would have such influence on running a well-managed classroom. My students actually regulate themselves.”
Having responsible students doing their work is the dream of every teacher. It does not have to be a dream. This can be taught to a class of students.
But, it must be taught to a teacher first—to help new teachers succeed.
What Happens to Too Many New Teachers
And in So Many Districts
Katherine learned about posting an agenda as part of her new teacher induction training. Although Katherine learned this and her students benefitted from it, consider Tianna. As a brand new teacher, she said,
“I was hired, given a USB, and a stack of books, and told to go teach.”
Another new teacher shared this with us:
“On my very first day as a brand new teacher,
I was not introduced to the staff;
I was not shown to my room;
I was not told how to get supplies;
I was not told how I would fit into the staff and how I could contribute;
I was not even shown the bathrooms!
Needless to say, I left after my first year.
Looking back, the reason is obvious.
There was no culture at this school, so I could not ‘fit in’ to something that did not exist.
It was simply a place where people worked behind closed doors.”
A decade ago, a group of teachers in Tennessee organized a new teacher induction program. This was a genuine example of a professional learning community, where teachers were organized to help other teachers, starting with the incoming new teachers. When the district hired a new superintendent, the superintendent cancelled the new teacher induction program, which had been in effect for several years. It was a devastating blow to the moral and culture of the district. The group of teachers who organized the program left the district. And the superintendent, who came in with his own agenda, has moved on.
This District Truly Shines
Being thrown into a classroom to survive did not happen to Katherine Smith, nor to all the other new teachers hired to teach in the Moberly School District.
Effective schools have a culture where they consistently invest in teacher capital and the Moberly School District wisely invests in the effectiveness of its teachers.
These are the objectives of the S.H.I.N.E. program:
- To recruit and retain highly qualified educators in our district
- To integrate new teachers into the culture and climate of our schools, school district, and community
- To assist beginning teachers to manage the challenges that are common to all new teachers
- To enhance new teachers’ professional development through reflection on their practice and on student learning
The overarching belief and goal is that by supporting new teachers, this will give students the best learning opportunities possible to strive for the district mission, “The Spartan Way—Excellence for All.”
Why S.H.I.N.E. Shines
Upon hiring, a new teacher is contacted by the S.H.I.N.E. Coordinator and welcomed to the district. The teacher is given a welcome packet from the Moberly Area Chamber of Commerce and area businesses, a list of ideas for things to do to prepare for the year before beginning teacher meetings in August, and a list of real estate companies and rental contacts who have been screened by the district.
They are contacted by the building mentor/buddy who has been chosen to provide support. The pair have the opportunity to start building the relationship and asking questions prior to the official start of school. In addition, the beginning teacher has access to a website to receive some induction information via electronic presentations that can be watched at a convenient time. These presentations explain the details of the S.H.I.N.E. program, which focuses on first- and second-year teachers new to the profession and the district.
Two formal days of orientation start the school year, prior to all staff returning, but induction takes place throughout the year. All new certified hires attend the orientation, which has been designed to balance time to learn about the district and each specific building’s expectations and procedures, time to work in classroom, and the opportunity to ask questions.
The first day includes breakfast, introduction of district leaders, team building opportunities, experience in a model classroom setting for their general grade level, time to learn and practice technology software and programs utilized in the district, lunch with their mentor, and time in the classroom with mentors. Each new hire receives Spartan shirt apparel.
The second day of orientation includes breakfast, a general overview of district initiatives and expectations, an entertaining, yet informative bus tour of the community, lunch with the respective building principal, and time to learn more about building specific expectations, routines, and operations onsite.
The core of the S.H.I.N.E. program is systematic, professional development with the following components:
Year 1 Components
- June luncheon with assigned mentor and basic overview of the district Positive Behavior Support System that is K-12.
- Two days of induction before school begins. This includes classroom time with a mentor, technology training, elementary and secondary model classroom experience, and learning district expectations.
- Six induction seminars throughout the school year—one full-day workshop, three after school sessions, and two half-day workshops. (During the day, workshops are held in off campus locations to expose teachers to community resources and assets.)
- A bus tour conducted by the leadership team which familiarizes new teachers with the culture and community of the district.
- End-of-year recognition celebration with mentors, administrators, and school board members. This is a formal program with video clips highlighting the year with many laughs and memories.
- A mentor in the same grade level or content area.
- Four formal cognitive coaching sessions a year.
- Weekly classroom visits/observations with the full-time district S.H.I.N.E. coordinator, and weekly reflection opportunities, to include watching video of themselves instructing.
- Resource books on classroom management and successful teaching components, including our book, The First Days of School.
- Weekly collaboration in the Professional Learning Community within grade level/subject area.
- Classroom release opportunities to observe other teachers and a monthly newsletter with instructional ideas.
- Access to online professional development resources.
- Organized social events.
- Show of community business support to familiarize teachers with community businesses.
- Moberly Spartan shirt and business promotional items as a welcoming gift.
- Adoption by a retired teacher in the community to provide positive encouragement.
- Updates and invitations to attend local events or activities in the community.
Year 2 Components
- Semester coaching sessions.
- Ongoing contact and classroom visits with the Induction Coordinator.
- Two half-day and two afterschool professional development sessions.
- Monthly newsletter with instructional ideas and support.
- A mentor in the same grade level or content area.
- Weekly collaboration in the Professional Learning Community within grade level/subject area (for all teachers in the district).
- Quarterly reflection opportunity.
In addition, mentors receive weekly or bi-monthly contact from the S.H.I.N.E. coordinator with ideas and suggestions for providing mentee support. A social and networking opportunity is available with Moberly’s Young Professionals Network. Teachers are welcomed, supported, and trained.
A Classroom Management Plan Binder
The major enhancement introduced this year to the S.H.I.N.E. program is having each teacher create a classroom management plan in a binder. The value of this plan is well known as some universities prepare their teachers to go out ready to teach with a classroom management plan binder. Click here to read the column about a college student who got her job because of her classroom management plan.
Click here to see how some teachers have and continue to keep a classroom management binder for their success and their students’ success.
Teacher Retention Results
Moberly has collected teacher retention data since the start of the S.H.I.N.E program. The average retention rate for beginning teachers is 82% for the two years they are part of the S.H.I.N.E. program.
Tara has noticed on the qualitative side that exit interviews show very few employees leaving unhappy. They feel supported, welcomed, and complimentary of their experience in the Moberly School District, despite the challenges they face in location and size. This is a reflection of a small, rural community that opens it arms to its educators.
Effective schools have a culture where they consistently invest in teacher capital
and the Moberly School District invests in the effectiveness of its teachers.
On the other hand, each year, school districts spend billions hiring teachers to replace the teachers hired and not trained the year before, when a fraction of that money could be applied to a structured, coherent, and sustained professional development program that would keep teachers. Teachers stay when they are successful.
Teach the teachers well and they will teach the students well. It’s the teacher that produces student achievement! We’ve known this for decades, yet we refuse to execute and implement the obvious. It’s the teacher and how the teacher is trained that produces student achievement gains.
The easiest, proven way to close the student achievement gap
is to close the teacher-learning gap—to coach teachers how to teach.
To keep new teachers they must be successful. To help close this learning gap for teachers, districts must provide the following for each new teacher:
- A structured and coherent induction program that flows seamlessly into a sustained professional development program.
- A grade-level or content-level learning team they can become a collaborative part of instantly.
In business, employees are trained from the day they arrive and they participate in continuous training and learning until they leave. Ask the fire chief, the store manager, or hospital executive what they do with new employees. Ask the baseball manager, construction foreman, senior partner in a law firm, or manager at Starbucks, McDonalds, or Domino’s Pizza, what they do with new employees.
Now, ask a school administrator what they do with a new teacher. Some do nothing. Most will tell you they assign a mentor to the new teacher, and rarely monitor the result of the relationship. Quite often we are told they give each new teacher a copy of our book, The First Days of School. The follow up question we ask is, “Is there any training or discussion that goes along with the book?” And the answer is most often, “No, we tell them to read the book.” This is learning in isolation and not part of a professional community.
Cost of the Moberly Induction Program
The costs of S.H.I.N.E. are negligible when you consider the cost of replacing a teacher who quits, as well as the great loss of an effective classroom for the students.
- Approximately $500 per first year beginning teacher (plus normal salary)
- Substitute pay, mentor stipend, welcome gift
- Approximately $100 per second year beginning teacher
- $1000 supplies and materials budget
- S.H.I.N.E. Coordinator salary (teacher salary)
The cost of teacher turnover is enormous, as much as $7.3 billion a year. It costs schools more than $50,000 to replace each new teacher who quits. More so, teacher turnover undermines the success at a school that is needed to have a consistent curriculum and school environment.
We all know about the turnover at the great majority of urban schools, where both the administration and teachers change every three years or sooner. The same kind of turnover happens in rural schools, and what Moberly has done is admirable in keeping their teachers.
Moberly keeps their teachers; their teachers are happy; and their teachers are competent and effective. This is what some S.H.I.N.E. participants have said about the program:
- S.H.I.N.E has been supportive and made me feel “safe” as a first-year teacher by giving me resources and people to go to if I need help.
- I work with the best teachers and staff that I could ever ask for! When I needed help, I knew I had countless support behind me.
- I am thankful that I haven’t had to feel lost or that I don’t know what to do because my position has presented me with teams of teachers that I look to for support and guidance. Thanks, Moberly school board, administrators, and support staff for creating a “team” atmosphere!!!
Your Turn to Shine
If your school district or school has a comprehensive new teacher induction program, please write and tell us about your program. (RWong@HarryWong.com) If there is no induction program in place, we have some suggestions for you.
As a district, you can shine with a full-blown new teacher training program similar to the likes of the ultimate of programs, Flowing Wells, or one similar to the robust Moberly School District. Your program provides continuous training and support for new teachers for multiple years.
As a school, you can shine by organizing a program in your school that introduces new teachers to the culture of the school and orients them to their surroundings. Your program provides collegial support and instructional coaching to improve their teaching skill and lasts the school year.
As an individual, you can seek out the new teachers on campus and welcome them into your classroom. You can share with them what they have to look forward to as a member of the teaching faculty. You can introduce them to other members of the staff and let them know how to get their classrooms up and running quickly and effectively. You can share resources with them and keep your door open to them at all times.
Think back to your first year in the classroom or your first time at a new school. Feel the nervous anticipation in the pit of your stomach. If you had any type of support, it’s time to pay it forward and share your talent and ability with those who are just starting out.
If you did not have any type of support as you entered the profession, and you’re still teaching for the joy of helping children succeed, then seize the opportunity to start the trend of Supporting, Helping, and Inspiring New Educators—S.H.I.N.E.—as you share the honor of being called teacher.
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