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This article was printed from Teachers.Net Gazette,
located at https://teachers.net.
Four Year Summary
The Importance of Teachers
This we know! Teacher quality is the most critical factor
by which to improve student achievement or close the achievement gap.
Teacher. It is the teacher, what the teacher
knows and can do, that is the most important factor in improving student
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 learning.
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 years.
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 relative achievement.
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
Administrators. Prepare your next group of new teachers
to be effective teachers with a comprehensive induction program.
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 the company.
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 feet.
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 survive.
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 induction
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 process.”
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” (https://teachers.net/wong/APR02).
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
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 does it.
Good administrators do not usurp their leadership role by simply
giving each new teacher a mentor without rigorous training and monitoring.
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
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
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
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 a team.
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 valued.
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 together.
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 teachers.
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 learning.
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.
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
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
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 instructional team.
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 performance?
What are our student learning
What staff skills are needed to close student
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 learning.
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.
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 the student.
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.