by Harry and Rosemary Wong
Applying for Your First Job
When You Are Hired, whether you are a novice or veteran teacher, one of three things can happen to you.
1. You Are Assigned
You are simply given an assignment and told to go and teach. There is no person or plan to help you if you need help. Only the naÔve think that they know it all and that you do not need help and support. Research overwhelmingly says that over 50 percent of you reading this column right now will not be teaching after 3 to 5 years. Seventeen percent of you, if you are a novice teacher, will not even last one year. Your talent and energy are much too valuable to see one to five years of your life wasted, the education you pursued become inconsequential, and the hope of your dreams and aspirations be snuffed out.
2. You Are Given a Mentor
You are simply given a mentor to contact if you need help. With luck, this person perhaps is trained, compensated, accessible, knowledgeable, and willing to help. Just giving a teacher a mentor is not sufficient. The beginning teacher is at the mercy of the mentor's philosophy, schedule, competence, and training, if any. There is no uniform mission with individual mentors. Twenty new teachers plus 20 different mentors equals 20 people teaching in 20 different ways.
3. You Are Part of a District's Induction Program
You are part of a systematic, integrated plan formulated by the district's core of administrators, teachers, and perhaps the union, designed to welcome you and make you feel a part of the school or the district. The purpose of this multi-year process is to help you become an effective and professional educator who will stay with the school or district.
The Major Question to Ask
When you go for an interview, the major question to ask is, "Does the school district have a new teacher induction program?" An induction program is designed to train, support, and retain you. An induction program is a way the district sends a message to you that they value you and want you to succeed and stay.
Some districts with induction programs have reduced their attrition rate to five percent with their new teachers. Districts without an induction program typically have attrition rates of 50 percent. Districts with induction programs care that you succeed. Let them help you to succeed. Then after a few years you can join the district's induction team and you can help other new teachers succeed, too.
A First Year Teacher Succeeds
Melissa Pantoja, who we discussed in our June column, succeeded in her first year as a teacher. Not perfect, but happy with her success and looking forward to her second year as a teacher.
There is a reason why she succeeded, just as so many other first year teachers have succeeded. Melissa Pantoja of Oklahoma was the product of the El Reno Public School's New Teacher Induction Program. Simply put, an induction program is used to help teachers new to the profession and/or the district succeed. Good school districts are the result of having trained effective teachers.
Although induction programs differ from district to district, they all have certain components in common. They all have a series of preschool sessions, bi-weekly or monthly meetings, demonstration classrooms, mentors, and administrative help.
Mentoring Is Not Induction
Do not confuse the term "induction" with "mentoring." A mentor is simply an experienced teacher who is provided to help you. That person perhaps is trained and usually receives compensation or released time. You could be at the mercy of the mentor's qualifications and availability. Whereas, an induction program is an organized, structured process designed by the district or school to provide immediate and sustained help for you. Good mentors are very important, but they must be part of the entire induction process.
For instance, in El Reno newly hired teachers, whether novice or veteran teachers, get a full week of orientation to the school district and training in classroom management and instructional strategies. Both administrators and teachers provide the week's training, with some of the sessions conducted by the district's mentor teachers who continue to provide year-long support for the inductees.
The El Reno Public School District believes that a "team" approach is more likely to ensure the success of new teachers than a single one-on-one type of support system. Therefore, their new teacher induction program enlists the ongoing support of staff development members, principals, coordinators, mentor teachers, school board members, and supervisory staff members in order to ensure that their new teachers are highly trained and adequately supported, increasing the likelihood that these new teachers will remain in the profession.
There are excellent New Teacher Induction Programs in many districts and schools. We will talk about them in subsequent columns. In the June teachers.net Gazette, Jan Fisher has an excellent article on the California induction process. These programs believe, as we do, that the teaching profession is the noblest profession in the world.
Getting back to Melissa Pantoja, at the end of her first year she wrote, "I'm so excited about what I've learned in my first year of teaching. I have used so many procedures and techniques that have made this year a success. Next year will be a great opportunity for me to make adjustments in my classroom management and use procedures that I have found to be successful. I have so many ideas and I am eager to use them." Even as a teacher, she is still learning.
You Are Hired to Make a Difference
We are most grateful for the questions we received from our last column. Some asked for first day scripts for their classrooms, claiming that their classroom was not like Melissa Pantoja's. However, we prefer not to give you such pat answers. We believe that every teacher has dignity, intelligence, and creativity and that you can develop your own style. Read what Melissa Pantoja did and use that as a model to prepare your own first days of school.
Instead of asking, "What am I supposed to do?" and expect someone to hand you a script that you can parrot your way through, learn to ask yourself, "What is it that I need to know so that my classroom will do the things that I need it to do?"
Mark Pollock, in Sacramento, California is a good example of this kind of professionalism exhibited by a teacher. He can be accessed at www.amazon.com. Go to the listing for our book The First Days of School and note that there are over 50 comments. Mark Pollack says, "This book is about refining your own style, how to steal ideas from other teachers, and how to be the best possible teacher ever! No book can tell you what to do, and this one does not. It instead gives the reasons for you to teach well, and how to go about doing that. You must act on your own to create your materials and make your classroom function."
We remember so distinctly this novice teacher at an induction meeting who was taught the procedure of collecting papers in a classroom. It was explained that passing papers forward is not a good technique because students may hit another student on the back to get their attention as the papers come forward up the aisle, thus creating problems. A technique was explained and practiced on how to have students pass papers across the aisles, which is described in The First Days of School. On the evaluation of the induction program, this teacher said that the technique did not work and implied that the induction program was not of any value.
The teacher never reflected on what happened in the classroom and made no attempt to try another variation to the procedure. Instead, the technique or the program was at fault.
There is a saying that good habits are easy to obtain, whereas bad habits are impossible to break. Begin your career as a professional educator by acquiring the best of all the good habits-being a continual learner. The worst habit you can acquire is to blame-whether it's the students, administration, schools of education, in-service meetings, parents, or whatever.
You Make a Statement of Dignity
If you do not take responsibility for yourself, no one else will. It's that simple. You make a statement of dignity to yourself and to the teaching profession when you acknowledge and accept that you make a difference.
YOU are the promise of your students' world. You are their hope and dream for a brighter future. Prepare yourself to be an effective teacher so that you can light their candles.
Past Gazette Articles by Harry & Rosemary Wong:
If you spot a link that appears to be out-of-date, please alert us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
- A Grateful Goodbye After 15 Years (Jun 2015)
- Love, Marriage, and Babies, Oh My! (May 2015)
- Retention Rate Is 100 Percent (Apr 2015)
- Teacher Effectiveness and Human Capital (Mar 2015)
- Training Teachers to Be Effective (Feb 2015)
- Making Deals Is Ineffective (Dec 2014 / Jan 2015)
- Retrieving and Carrying Electronic Devices (Nov 2014)
- Sharing to Succeed (Oct 2014)
- How a University Prepares Its Students (Sep 2014)
- Effective Teaching (Aug 2014)
- Your Future Is in Your Hands (June/July 2014)
- The Classroom Management Book (May 2014)
- When Students Succeed; Teachers Succeed (April 2014)
- Teaching New Teachers How to Succeed (March 2014)
- Execute and Praise (February 2014)
- Shaping a Solid Foundation (Dec 2013 / Jan 2014)
- The Most Misunderstood Word (November 2013)
- How to Start Class Every Day (October 2013)
- Prevention: The Key to Solving Discipline Problems (September 2013)
- Planning, Planning, Planning (August 2013)
- Are You THE One? (June / July 2013)
- Practical Examples That Work (May 2013)
- A Disability Is Not a Handicap (Apr 2013)
- Totally Inexcusable (Mar 2013)
- Be Proud of Public Education (Feb 2013)
- Structure Will Motivate Students (Dec 2012 / Jan2013)
- Orchestrating the Classroom (Nov 2012)
- The Lasting Impact of Instructional Coaching (Oct 2012)
- Learning, Laughing, and Leaving a Legacy (Sep 2012)
- Twenty-two, First Year, and Legit (Aug 2012)
- A Master Teacher of Teachers (June/July 2012)
- Where Going to School Means Success (May 2012)
- A Nationally Celebrated High School (Apr 2012)
- The Highest Rated School in New York City, Part 2 (Mar 2012)
- The Highest Rated School in New York City, Part 1 (Feb 2012)
- The Importance of Culture (Dec 2011 / Jan 2012)
- You Can Teach Classroom Management (Nov 2011)
- Seamless, Transparent, and Consistent (Oct 2011)
- Coaching Teachers to Be Effective Instructors (Sep 2011)
- How a Principal Creates a Culture of Consistency (Aug 2011)
- Graduation Begins in Your Classroom (June/July 2011)
- The Inspiration of a Mother (May 2011)
- How to Be an Effective Leader (Apr 2011)
- Learning Objectives: The Heart of Every Lesson (Mar 2011)
- Even Shakespeare Had Structure (Feb 2011)
- Effectiveness Defined: It's Not a Mystery (Dec 2010 / Jan 2011)
- Surviving Without a Principal (Nov 2010)
- Achieving Greatness: Locke Elementary School, Part 2 (Oct 2010)
- Teaching Greatness: Locke Elementary School, Part 1 (Sep 2010)
- Effective from the Start (Aug 2010)
- Ten Year Summary of Articles, 2000 to 2010 (June/July 2010)
- The Success of a Culture of Consistency (May 2010)
- Training Teachers to Be Effective (Apr 2010)
- Learning to Teach, Teaching to Learn (Mar 2010)
- Turning Teaching Dreams into Reality (Feb 2010)
- Dreams and Wishes Can Come True (Dec 2009 / Jan 2010)
- Success in a State Controlled School (Nov 2009)
- Inner City Is Not An Excuse (Oct 2009)
- Exceeding All Expectations (Sep 2009)
- Teachers Are the Difference (Aug 2009)
- Nine Year Summary of Articles, 2000 to 2009 (Jun/Jul 2009)
- Teachers Are the Greatest Assets (May 2009)
- The Tools for Success (Apr 2009)
- Assessing for Student Learning (Mar 2009)
- To Be an Effective Teacher Simply Copy and Paste (Feb 2009)
- The Sounds of Students Learning and Performing (Dec 2008)
- A School That Achieves Greatness (Nov 2008)
- Boaz City Schools: Professional Learning Teams (Oct 2008)
- It Was Something Close to a Miracle (Sep 2008)
- A Computer Teacher Shows the Way (Aug 2008)
- Eight Year Summary of Articles, 2000 to 2008 (Jun/Jul 2008)
- An Amazing Kindergarten Teacher (May 2008)
- Schools That Beat the Academic Odds (Apr 2008)
- Academic Coaching Produces More Effective Teachers (Mar 2008)
- Coaches Are More Effective than Mentors (Feb 2008)
- Wrapping the Year with Rap! (Dec 2007/Jan 2008)
- The Floating Teacher (Nov 2007)
- Taking the Bite Out of AssessmentóUsing Scoring Guides (Oct 2007)
- Ten Timely Tools for Success on the First Days of School (Sep 2007)
- First Day of School Script - in Spanish, Too! (Aug 2007)
- Seven Year Summary of Articles, 2000 to 2007 (Jun 2007)
- Effective Teachers End the Year Successfully (May 2007)
- Training Gen Y Teachers for Maximum Effectiveness (Apr 2007)
- Classroom Management Applies to All Teachers (Mar 2007)
- Students Want a Sense of Direction (Feb 2007)
- Rubrics in Two College Classes (Dec 2006/Jan 2007)
- How to Write a Rubric (Nov 2006)
- Assessing Student Progress with a Rubric (Oct 2006)
- A 92 Percent Homework Turn-in Rate (Sep 2006)
- Effective Teachers Are Proactive (Aug 2006)
- Five Year Summary of Articles (Jun 2006)
- Hitting the Bulls Eye as a Beginning Teacher (May 2006)
- They're Eager to Do the Assignments (Apr 2006)
- The Success of Special Ed Teachers (Mar 2006)
- What Teachers Have Accomplished (Feb 2006)
- Fifty Years Ago, The Legacy (Dec 2005/Jan 2006)
- The Emergency Teacher (Nov 2005)
- Classroom Management Is Not Discipline (Oct 2005)
- A Successful First Day Is No Secret (Sep 2005)
- The Most Important Factor (Aug 2005)
- Four Year Summary of Articles (Jul 2005)
- Improving Student Achievement Is Very Simple (Part 2) (Jun 2005)
- Improving Student Achievement Is Very Simple (Part 1) (May 2005)
- Never Cease to Learn (Apr 2005)
- His Classroom Is a Real Life Office (Mar 2005)
- The Power of Procedures (Feb 2005)
- The First Ten Days of School (Jan 2005)
- PowerPoint Procedures (Nov/Dec 2004)
- The Saints of Education (Oct 2004)
- How Procedures Saved a Teacher's Life (Sep 2004)
- How to Help Students with Their Assignments (Aug 2004)
- Three Year Summary of Articles (Jun/Jul 2004)
- His Students are All Certified (May 2004)
- What to Do When They Complain (Apr 2004)
- A Well-Oiled Learning Machine (Mar 2004)
- The Effective Teacher Adapts (Feb 2004)
- How to Start a Lesson Plan (Aug 2003)
- Applying for a Teaching Job in a Tight Market - Part 2 (Jun/Jul 2003)
- Applying for a Teaching Job in a Tight Market (May 2003)
- The Effective Substitute Teacher (Apr 2003)
- A First Day of School Script (Mar 2003)
- How to Retain New Teachers (Feb 2003)
- No Problem With Hurricane Lili (Dec 2002)
- A Class Size of 500 (Nov 2002)
- Effective Practices Apply to All Teachers (Oct 2002)
- Dispensing Materials in Fifteen Seconds (Sept 2002)
- How To Start School Successfully (Aug 2002)
- Teaching Procedures Is Teaching Expectations (June - July 2002)
- $50,000 to Replace Each Teacher (May 2002)
- Even Superintendents Do It (Apr 2002)
- Impossible, No Job Openings? (Mar 2002)
- A Stress Free Teacher (Feb 2002)
- A Most Effective School (Jan 2002)
- Van Gogh in Nine Hours (Dec 2001)
- The Effective Teacher Thinks (Nov 2001)
- How a Good University Can Help You (Sep 2001)
- How to Motivate Your Students (May 2001)
- How to Recognize Where You Want to Be (Apr 2001)
- What Successful New Teachers Are Taught (Mar 2001)
- A Journey of the Heart (Feb 2001)
- The Miracle of Teachers (Jan 2001)
- It's Not the Students. It's the Teacher. (Dec 2000)
- The First Five Minutes Are Critical (Nov 2000)
- How to Start a Class Effectively (Oct 2000)
- The Problem Is Not Discipline (Sep 2000)
- There Is Only One First Day of School (Aug 2000)
- Applying for Your First Job (Jul 2000)
- Your First Day (Jun 2000)
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