Carol A. Bartell; foreword by Linda Darling-Hammond

ABSTRACT Hiring new teachers

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Hiring new teachers and continuing their professional growth so that they remain in the profession and become effective teachers have been a challenge for decades. Research suggests that induction programs can achieve these outcomes if they are highly structured, include mentoring, focus on professional learning, and emphasize collaboration that is broad and focused. The Great Beginnings new-teacher induction program, the focus of this article, contains these effective components. Results of a multiyear study indicate that the new teachers view the instructional resource teacher, an instructional coach and mentor, and opportunities to collaborate with colleagues as the key components of the new-teacher induction program. Additionally, teachers value professional development that they perceive as addressing their particular challenges. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

    Based on a report of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (2003), approximately 14% of new teachers leave teaching by the end of their 1st year, 33% leave within 3 years, and almost 50% leave in 5 years. Although the difficulties facing novice teachers have been documented for years, only recently have new teachers' needs and challenges been addressed (Mager, 1992). Veenman (1984) identified beginning teachers' perceived problems in a review of 91 studies published from 1960 to the time of the study. According to Veenman, the eight most frequently perceived problems were classroom discipline, motivating students, dealing with individual differences, assessing students' work, relationships with parents, organization of class work, insufficient materials and supplies, and dealing with problems of individual students. These findings have been confirmed by the research of others (Darling-Hammond, 1997; Huling-Austin & Murphy, 1987; Odell, 1986; Sears, Marshall, & Otis-Wilborn, 1994). Ganser (1999) revisited the work of Veenman to determine if the findings were still accurate, given that districts were creating induction programs around Veenman's findings. Ganser's results indicated that the problems were essentially the same nearly 40 years later. Research has shown that teacher retention is more closely aligned to the quality of the first teaching experience than to academic performance or to the adequacy of the teacher education program (Odell & Ferraro, 1992). The term induction is used to describe the period when teachers have their first teaching experience and adjust to the roles and the responsibilities. As school districts recognize the need to systematically support new teachers, induction programs are cropping up across the country. Induction programs, defined as "preplanned, structured, and short-term assistive programs offered in schools for beginning teachers" (Lawson, 1992, p. 163), are systematically trying to initiate, shape, and sustain teachers in the profession.

    The history of induction programs in the United States is relatively young. Before 1980, there were only a few induction programs, and they were quite isolated. The anticipation of a severe teacher shortage and the educational reforms that swept the country in the mid-1980s caused the movement toward induction programs to balloon. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, at least 31 states were planning or implementing teacher induction programs (Gold, 1996; Hawk & Robards, 1987). That number dropped to 26 in the late 1990s because of budget constraints (Weiss & Weiss, 1999) and rose to 33 states with mandated programs in 2004 (Hall, 2005). Recently, Smith and Ingersoll (2004) reported that the majority of new teachers (83% public school and 60% private school) indicated that they were involved in some form of teacher induction.
    Clearly, induction programs make a difference in teacher retention (Colbert & Wolff, 1992; Hegler & Dudley, 1987; Odell & Ferraro, 1992; Smith & Ingersoll, 2004; Wood, 1999) as well as in improved teaching practice (Evertson & Smithey, 2000; Shaffer, String-field, & Wolfe, 1992; Stroot et al., 1999). In addition, there is a small body of research on how teacher induction programs affect student achievement (Fletcher, Strong, & Villar, in press; Thompson, Paek, Goe, & Ponte, 2004; Wilson, Darling-Hammond, & Berry, 2001).

    Although the majority of new teachers participate in some form of induction, there is a variety in programs, from an orientation meeting for new teachers at the beginning of the year to multiyear structured programs with several components (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). In a review of the literature, Horn, Sterling, and Subhan (2002) identified nine elements common to induction programs: orientation (commonly, a week of meetings to orient new teachers to their new districts and schools as well as the curricula), adjustment of working conditions (reduction in class size; number of preparations and additional duties, such as committee work), release time (time to attend meetings and so forth during the school day), professional development (seminars, workshops, or conferences on topics relevant to the new teacher), opportunities for collaboration with colleagues, teacher assessment (generally, formative assessment, including feedback), program evaluation (evaluation of the induction program by the participants), follow-up (support beyond the 1st year), and mentoring (support of a new teacher by an experienced teacher).

    Mentoring is such an important component of induction programs that the terms mentoring and induction are often used synonymously (Ingersoll & Smith, 2004). Odell (2006), a leader in research on mentoring and induction, suggests that mentoring is "typically associated with having experienced teachers work with novice teachers to help ease the novices' transition from a university student learning to teach to full-time teacher in the classroom" (p. 203). The term mentor may be operationalized differently by different school districts. In some cases, the mentor is essentially a "buddy" in the form of an experienced teacher who makes the new teacher feel welcome and answers his or her questions as they arise. In other cases, the mentor is trained to support teachers on a full-time basis (Fletcher et al., in press). The role of mentor as a full-time professional is expressed by Odell and Ferraro (1992), who suggest that mentoring is

conceptualized explicitly as a professional practice much as teaching is a practice. Like teaching, the professional practice of mentoring includes dispositions and beliefs, conceptual and theoretical understandings, as well as skills for implementing the practice. Also, like teaching, mentoring requires specialized preparation for the mentor and a significant time commitment on the part of the mentor. (p. 203)

    Are certain features or components of induction programs more important than others? Of the nine components listed by Horn and colleagues (2002), five were selected as most important: orientation, professional development, program evaluation, follow-up, and mentoring. The authors defined high-intensity induction programs as those with four out of the five.

    The mentoring component is essential for teacher retention, according to a study by Odell and Ferraro (1992), who found a higher retention rate for mentored new teachers than for nonmentored new teachers. Using the 1999-2000 Schools and Staffing Survey, Smith and Ingersoll (2004) conducted a multivariate analysis of the data to address four research questions, including the effects of different packages of program components on new-teacher retention. Using frequency of components in programs, the authors created three induction packages: basic (mentor from one's field and supportive communication with an administrator), basic plus collaboration (in addition to the basic package, regularly scheduled collaboration with peers and participation in beginning-teacher seminars), and comprehensive (in addition to the basic-plus-collaboration package, an external teacher network, reduced preparation, and help from a teacher's aide). After controlling for the background characteristics of teachers and schools, the authors found that the likelihood of new teachers' staying in the profession after their 1st year of teaching was not statistically different for teachers experiencing the basic package than for those with no induction. However, the added components of the basic-plus-collaboration program and the comprehensive package led to significant differences in the predicted retention rate of those teachers when compared to the no-induction teachers.

    Although much of the research on induction links it to the outcome of retention, retention is not the only goal for induction programs. Horn and others (2002) conducted a comprehensive survey in Arizona to investigate how districts defined, operationalized, managed, and financed induction programs. In addition, they inquired about the districts' goals for their programs. Interestingly, they found that although districts reported a variety of goals for their programs, teacher retention was the primary goal for only 4.4% of the districts. Instead, teacher effectiveness was the most often identified primary goal, listed by 16.1% of districts. Only 5 of the 113 districts reported student achievement as the primary goal for their induction program.

    Based on the literature on new-teacher challenges and the resulting attrition of new teachers, it stands to reason that school districts should adopt some form of induction program. In the following portions of this article, we describe the components of a new-educator induction program, Great Beginnings, and report the findings from a study of teachers' views of the program components that they considered most beneficial.

Context of the Study
    The midwestern school district that developed Great Beginnings is the third largest in the state, with a 2005-2006 student population of approximately 24,500, who were served in 31 elementary schools, 8 junior high schools, and 4 senior high schools. The average teacher had 14 years of experience, and 65% of the teachers in the district held a graduate degree. Explosive growth (250-300 new teachers hired annually) and a recognition that induction programs were making a difference with retention and quality of instruction led to the development of Great Beginnings, a yearlong induction program initiated in the 2000-2001 school year.

    The primary goals of the district's induction program were to improve retention and the teaching effectiveness of all newly hired teachers, those with experience but new to the district and 1st-year teachers. Historically, the district had an orientation program for teachers new to the district and provided all its teachers with professional development opportunities and limited access to the support of instructional resource teachers (IRTs). However, the district leadership recognized the need to do more to ensure that new educators developed into highly effective teachers.

    To develop the model, a study group of district leaders conducted a review of the literature, including the research on induction programs in general and professional development and new-teacher needs in particular. They also visited districts (in and out of state) that had induction programs. Although they noted the program components common in the literature at that time (orientation, mentoring, release time, etc.), they gave particular attention to providing new teachers with professional development, as reflected in the studies of Veenman (1984) and Ganser (1999). Recognizing the repeated attention to mentoring in the research literature, they revised the role of the IRTs, from working with all teachers to focusing on new teachers. In addition, the district created a new position, the coordinator of new-educator induction, to lead the development and coordination of a comprehensive induction program.

Components of Great Beginnings

Orientation Program
    Before school began, all new teachers participated in an extensive 3-day new-teacher orientation program that focused on the culture and curriculum of the district. They met district and teacher leaders, including their IRTs, and spent 2 1/2 days with a small group of other new hires and a master teacher at their grade level or in their content area. Under the principal's leadership, teachers worked in their own classrooms on the 4th day and with grade-level or content-area colleagues.

Collegial Mentor or Orientation Partner

    During the orientation period, all new teachers were paired with a collegial mentor (for 1st-year teachers) or an orientation partner (for experienced teachers who were new to the district). The collegial mentor or orientation partner was a veteran teacher who provided procedural guidance and insight day to day. In recent years, the state issued $1,000 per mentor teacher to schools that assigned a mentor to 1st-year teachers. The state prefers that mentors have at least 3 years of experience in the district, teach in the same buildings and at the same grade levels (elementary) or subjects (secondary) as the new teachers, attend training (no specific requirements), and submit a log documenting their time spent with the new teachers (minimum of 1 half hour per week). Although there was no state funding for newly hired but experienced teachers, the district still assigned an orientation partner to fill the collegial mentor role. In both cases, the collegial mentor and the orientation partner were more like a buddy than a mentor (Odell & Ferraro, 1992), as noted previously. The IRTs filled that role.

    The IRTs' primary role was to serve as instructional mentor to a group of new teachers. Each new teacher had a minimum of 14 formal contacts (4 observations and 10 consultations) with the IRT in his or her 1st year. These full-time mentors/coaches guided and supported the work of new teachers by observing, providing feedback, modeling effective teaching strategies, co-planning lessons, and helping teachers analyze student data to guide their instruction. IRTs structured all support and interactions with new teachers on the district's five educator standards and indicators. Specifically, the IRTs focused on making sure that new teachers knew their subject matter and how to teach it, and they created a climate for learning. They also provided on-site follow-up on topics covered in professional development sessions. The IRT was a resource, guide, and support for the new teacher and did not share any information, positive or negative, with the principal. Although the district wanted to extend the IRTs' support to teachers in their 2nd year, funding prevented it, unless the principal decided that the new teacher must repeat the first phase of the new-teacher evaluation program. In addition to performing on-site mentoring of new teachers, IRTs aided assigned buildings with school improvement initiatives, prepared and presented professional development (building, grade-level training, induction series workshops, and so on), and played a major role in writing curriculum.

    In the 2005-2006 school year, there were 15 IRTs in the district: 3 secondary, 10 elementary, and 2 special education. IRTs were selected through an extensive process. The elementary IRTs were each assigned to an average of 16 new teachers, whereas the secondary and special education IRTs were responsible for 30-40 teachers.

Professional Development Sessions
    The professional development component, a major piece of the induction program, was based on a professional development model that included interactive instruction on a topic, modeling, time for practice, and follow-up with a master teacher (Sparks & Loucks-Horsley, 1989). There were two types of sessions: the regularly scheduled professional growth days for new teachers (averaging four per year, during the school day, required, substitute provided) and the Advanced Teaching and Learning program (ATL; bimonthly and optional). Professional growth days were held on school time and designed to meet the needs of the grade level (e.g., guided reading for first grade) or content area (e.g., science curriculum). The content of the optional after-school ATL sessions was tied directly to the district teaching standards and the research on new teachers' needs. Topics such as classroom management, effective lesson design, grading, parent communication, and cooperative learning were just a few of the offerings for new teachers. IRTs were involved in delivering the professional growth days and ATL sessions and followed up with on-site support on the topics presented. New-teacher attendance at ATL sessions was rewarded with professional growth points or the option to apply participation toward a master's degree.

    The professional growth days and ATL sessions also provided a forum for the new educators to network with other new educators. There was always time for them to talk with one another, share concerns, and engage in problem solving. In addition, in the 2005-2006 school year, a new educator website was initiated, and PowerPoint presentations and handouts from the ATL sessions were available to all teachers in the district.

Standards-Based Evaluation and Reflection
    Recently, the district developed its five educator standards, each with accompanying indicators and a rubric to guide teacher self-reflection and principals' evaluation of teachers. The district's standards-based evaluation and reflection system was the basis of the new-educator evaluation program, which will last for 4 years. The IRTs used the rubric with the new teachers to provide guidance. Principals evaluated new teachers four times per year in each of their first 4 years in the district. All teachers must have a written guided growth plan (3-year cycle) consisting of two professional goals (content related and other) and a plan for reaching those goals. New teachers completed their first guided growth plan at the end of their 1st year with guidance from their IRTs.

On-Site Master's Degree Option
    Teachers could obtain 10 college credits toward a master's degree, offered on-site in partnership with a local university, if they attended all the bimonthly ATL sessions, followed by a 1-hour seminar. They also completed additional assignments (readings, projects, etc.) related to the topic.

Survey Development, Participants, Data Collection, and Analysis

    During the 2002-2003 school year, the coordinator of new-educator induction developed two brief surveys (midyear and end of year), the objectives of which were to monitor program effectiveness and teacher satisfaction with the induction program. The stages in the planning of a survey delineated by Cohen and Manion (1995) provided guidance. The midyear survey consisted of open-ended questions related to training, IRTs, building support, needs, and suggestions. The end-of-year survey targeted challenges and support. Pilot surveys were distributed to all educators new to the district in 2002-2003. Adjustments in the wording of questions were made as needed. The revised surveys were used in this study and were collected at five points: midyear (2003-2004, 2004-2005, 2005-2006) and end of the year (2003-2004 and 2004-2005).

    The participants in this study came from a pool of the district's 826 new teachers (48% elementary, 39% secondary, and 13% special education) across 3 years (2003-2004 to 2005-2006). Demographic information on this population is as follows: 83% female and 17% male; 98% White, 1.5% African American, and 0.5% Hispanic. Because responses were encouraged but voluntary and respondents remained anonymous, we do not have demographic information on the actual respondents. Returns on the surveys averaged 68% across the five points of collection. Of the 468 surveys returned, 45% were completed by elementary teachers, 35% by secondary teachers, and 20% by special educators. A district staff member typed responses. The constant comparative method (Strauss & Corbin, 1998), used to analyze the data, allowed for comparisons within and across the groups (elementary, secondary, and special education). Themes were identified within and across groups.

    Two across-group themes emerged from the data: Teachers viewed the IRTs and opportunities for collaboration as key components of the Great Beginnings program.

    The dominant theme was clear: The role of the IRT was critical and indispensable to the perceived success of these new educators, for both emotional and instructional support. Teachers praised the IRTs effusively. "I do believe that all IRTs are SAINTS!" said one elementary teacher. "I really can't believe the work they do ... FOR ME! Thank you Thank you Thank you." Across the 3 years and regardless of their previous levels of experience, educators new to the district were consistently positive when they discussed interactions with the IRTs. The comments typically began with "My IRT is..." (e.g., "incredible," "amazing," "very supportive and available at all times," "always positive," "awesome"). A secondary teacher stated, "My IRT is one of the reasons I love my school--she is incredibly helpful and encouraging. I know I can trust her and she has great ideas and strategies to make my teaching more effective." Overall, it was clear that the teachers viewed the IRT as a resource who "wants [them] to be successful."

    When asked in the midpoint survey "What interactions with your IRT have been most helpful to you?" the overwhelming response across 3 years referred to observations and feedback. Teachers repeatedly noted the importance of feedback on their overall performance, especially, those from special education who appreciated "feedback on team meetings from someone not involved with the team" and "feedback concerning the co-teach model." The district-required observations and feedback were handled so that teachers appreciated and welcomed the interactions, as illustrated in the recommendation of one secondary teacher: "Get more IRTs, so that [they] have more time to come observe." Being observed by the IRTs allowed the teachers to feel confident and prepared for the formal high-stakes observations done by the principal. Requests for contact with IRTs beyond the 1st year were noted regularly in survey responses.

    The second across-group theme was the value that teachers placed on collaboration. The primary purpose of the professional development sessions was to provide information related to instruction; however, when asked what was most beneficial about these sessions, elementary, secondary, and special education teachers regularly noted the opportunity for "camaraderie," "collaborating," and "gleaning information from others." "Sharing" was also a term frequently used: "sharing with other new teachers about frustrations and suggestions and resources," "sharing situations and solutions with other teachers," "sharing ideas is the most beneficial part." Teachers indicated that they needed to vent and then brainstorm possible solutions. Positive comments about collaboration within their own buildings with other teachers, as well as support from the principal, were common across the teachers' responses as well.

    In addition to the two across-group themes, there were two within-group themes in the midyear and end-of-year surveys: classroom management for general educators (elementary and secondary) and individualized educational programs (IEPs) for the special education teachers. In response to the midyear survey question "If you have attended any of the Advanced Teaching and Learning series, what have you found to be beneficial?" classroom management, followed by parent conferences, was the most commonly noted topic by the elementary and secondary teachers, and IEPs (process, procedures, etc.) were the focus of responses from special education teachers. Similarly, when asked at the end of the year to identify their greatest challenge, the elementary and secondary teachers again noted classroom management (followed by differentiated instruction), and the special education teachers cited IEP-related issues. Not surprising, when all groups of teachers were asked how they met their challenges, responses reinforced the across-group themes: Support from IRTs in particular and collaboration with colleagues in general helped new teachers meet their challenges.

    The purpose of this study was to uncover teachers' views on the components of an induction program that they considered most beneficial. Indeed, the findings of Smith and Ingersoll (2004) regarding the critical roles of collaboration and mentoring rang true for these new teachers. In addition, teachers valued professional development sessions that helped them to meet the greatest challenges of their 1st year in the district.

    The IRTs, the mentors of this program, might have been successful because they shared several characteristics of the research-based mentoring framework suggested in the 21st-century learning community model of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (Fulton, Yoon, & Lee, 2005). That is, IRTs were carefully selected "for their skill in content, pedagogy, and ability to coach and work with other teachers" (p. 5); were continually and extensively trained; had the time for the job and structured their time; were compensated well; and followed clear expectations and were accountable for their work with novice teachers. This view of the mentor was similar to that of the "coach" described in the growing body of research on coaching (e.g., Veenman & Denessen, 2001). Teachers repeatedly noted that the IRTs provided emotional and instructional support (as found in other studies, e.g., Odell & Ferraro, 1992) that helped in their day-to-day survival and that helped them feel confident to meet the demands of the district evaluation program.

    Mentoring was an essential component of a comprehensive induction program (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004), which overlapped with another key component: collaboration with others. In the report on induction by the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (Fulton et al., 2005), the authors suggest that collaboration should include a broad network of relationships and supports and regular one-to-one mentoring with highly qualified instructional coaches who model best practices, scaffolds, and supports. Although the IRT filled the role of the mentor, time and activities built into the professional development sessions provided opportunities for collaboration with teachers who were teaching in similar positions. Because there was no structure for building-level collaboration, it varied, but teachers reported an overall sense of belonging in their buildings with opportunities to interact with their principals and other teachers.

    Although mentoring and collaboration were themes across all groups of teachers, there was also the within-group theme of differentiated professional development that met teachers' needs. Professional development sessions were planned with new-teacher needs in mind (Ganser, 1999), but they were also differentiated to meet the needs of particular groups of teachers (e.g., per content, grade level, special education). Follow-up by the IRTs allowed further customization of teachers' on-site learning. The two most valued professional development topics reported midyear by the general education teachers were classroom management and parent conferences. Those responses--plus the fact that at the end of the year, teachers reported classroom management as their greatest challenge--followed by differentiated instruction, paralleled the phases of 1st-year teachers, as presented by Moir (1990). After the initial anticipation phase, teachers move into the survival and disillusionment phases in the first half of the year when dealing with the day-to-day issues of classroom management and fall parent-teacher conferences. This was clearly the case for the general education teachers. The special education teachers' concerns included IEPs and parent-teacher conferences, two immediate core issues they faced in the fall. After a winter break, 1st-year teachers went through the rejuvenation phase and began to feel confident and ready to think about instruction. As the year came to a close, they were in the reflection phase and could think about their successes, challenges, and how they would do things differently next year. In this study, the general education teachers reported that classroom management followed by differentiated instruction were their 1st-year challenges. This reflected Moir's phases in that teachers were initially challenged by the survival need of classroom management but later in the year moved their concern to instruction. That the special education teachers expressed challenges different from those of the general education teachers reflected the different demands of their roles, which might account for the attrition rate of special education teachers, which is even higher than that of general education teachers (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). Special education teachers reported that concerns about IEPs (process, procedures, fulfilling goals, etc.) were ameliorated with help from their IRTs.

    The teachers rarely mentioned two components of the program, the collegial mentor/orientation partner and the master's degree option. Although the collegial mentors and orientation partners might have been well intentioned and helpful in answering procedural questions, they served as buddies (Fletcher et al., in press), not as true mentors (Odell & Ferraro, 1992). That teachers did not mention the master's degree option might simply reflect the reality of the overextended new teacher. Thus, although 15%-18% of the teachers put their ATL time toward the master's option, that does not appear to be the reason they attended the sessions.

Conclusions and Implications

    Wong, Britton, and Ganser (2005) examined high-quality induction programs both inside and outside of the United States and found that all had "three major similarities--they are highly structured, they focus on professional learning and they emphasize collaboration" (p. 383). The Great Beginnings program was clearly well structured, included opportunities for collaboration, and focused on professional learning through professional development session opportunities with follow-up and ongoing instructional coaching by the IRTs. Given the responses from 3 years of data, it is fair to state that, overall, the teachers new to the district believed that they had opportunities to address their challenges through professional development, were well mentored, and were involved in supportive and collaborative relationships. When asked, "Are there any suggestions you would have for improving our new-educator induction program?" the general tone of the responses was represented by teachers who said, "None--it is right on track!" and "I love being a ... teacher--thanks for all your support!" Although it was wonderful to hear that the respondents were happy and felt supported in this district, we believe that this was only the beginning. As the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future suggested (Fulton et al., 2005), if teachers are to meet the needs of their students in the 21st century, we must think about planning and then studying induction programs based on multiple goals, including building teacher knowledge and professional skills; integrating new teachers into the teaching community, which includes opportunities for professional learning; and encouraging dialogue that supports best practice.

    What implications did this study have for the induction program in this district and for induction in general? It clearly reinforced the importance of the mentor, as defined by Odell and Ferraro (1992), the well-trained professional with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to support new teachers, not only in terms of instructional strategies, but also in terms of emotional support, a key issue for new teachers. Emotional and instructional support can also come from peers and opportunities to collaborate with peers. Historically, teaching has been a profession of isolation. We in the profession now know that it cannot survive under that paradigm given the challenges of teaching today. As policies for mentors are developed by districts and funds are allocated, as they have been in our state (Kansas), it would be wise to look at how money is spent. This study demonstrated that money spent on the buddy style of mentoring is not well spent. Instead, money should be spent on full-time well-trained mentors, such as the IRTs, and on substitutes for release time so that new teachers can meet frequently to collaborate with peers. This process should continue beyond the 1st year, as repeatedly requested by teachers in this study and supported in the literature (Horn et al., 2002). Districts need to create structures that allow for the needed collaboration time, such as that which is in place in two neighboring districts where students are released early each Wednesday, thereby giving teachers time for professional development and collaboration with peers.

    Education is a responsibility of the larger community, not just professional educators and school districts. Funding for multifaceted induction programs to support the development of an effective teaching force will continue to be a challenge. If districts are to continue to create and refine induction programs, we suggest that they look to the growing body of research on induction so that they can use their money wisely and creatively.

    Finally, with the research on the connection between participation in high-quality induction and retention clearly demonstrated, more research is needed on how induction programs affect instruction and student achievement. Although research directly linking induction programs to student achievement is limited, we know that qualified and effective teachers are a good predictor of student achievement (e.g., Pressley et al., 2001; Sanders & Rivers, 1996). High-quality professional development can affect teacher learning (e.g., Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman, & Yoon, 2001). Professional development may be defined as "a purposeful educational program designed to engage teachers in developing their knowledge, skills, or habits of mind" (Richardson & Anders, 2005, p. 206). A substantial body of information on the characteristics of effective professional development has been presented by many researchers (e.g., McLaughlin, 1991; Wilson & Berne, 1999). Common characteristics across reviews note that teachers are more apt to increase their learning and apply it in their classrooms if their professional development experiences are long term, focused on content, and in coherence with their daily teaching lives; if they respect their current knowledge and practice; and if they include opportunities for active learning and collaboration. These findings parallel those of the induction research. Induction programs are essentially professional development frameworks for novice teachers. As professionals, we should build bridges between these two bodies of knowledge and determine which components of a new-teacher induction program affect the ultimate goal: student achievement. ESS


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    Diane Corcoran Nielsen is an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at the University of Kansas. Her research interests include literacy and teacher education.
    Arlene Lundmark Barry is an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at the University of Kansas. Her research interests include adolescent literacy, teacher education, and the history of reading.
    Ann Brickey Addison is a doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas and coordinator of new-educator induction for the Olathe Kansas Schools. Her research interests include teacher education and literacy.
    Address correspondence to Diane Corcoran Nielsen, University of Kansas, Department of Curriculum and Teaching 1122 West Campus Road, 446 Joseph R. Pearson Hall, Lawrence, KS 66045. E-mail:

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Bickmore, Dana L.; Bickmore, Steven T.; Hart, Laurie E.


Interdisciplinary Teaming as an Induction Practice


NASSP Bulletin 89 30-53 S 2005

Dana L. Bickmore

Steven T. Bickmore
Laurie E. Hart

The role of interdisciplinary teaming in the induction of new teachers was examined at two middle level schools through the perceptions of three participant groups: new teachers, mentors, and principals. Data collected through a mixed-method design indicated that participants perceived interdisciplinary teams as an integral part of the induction process of new teachers that supported their personal and professional needs. Teaming was most helpful in meeting new teachers' professional needs chiefly through supporting the management practices of new teachers.

    Bell County school system had a personnel problem, according to Dr. Sampson, the assistant superintendent of human resources. This historically rural school district situated between two metropolitan areas was experiencing high rates of growth as suburbia flowed into the county. Bell County's salary structure, which paid $2,000 to $5,000 less than neighboring districts, compounded the increasing need for new teachers. Recruiting and retaining teachers was a problem. Bell County was considering adopting a districtwide induction model developed by one of the three middle level schools in the county to encourage new teachers to stay in the system. An effective induction program, Dr. Sampson believed, would result in positive working conditions. Positive experiences would lead to retaining teachers and, in addition, be an informal and formal advertisement for recruiting new teachers. The districtwide induction model, however, was costly, requiring additional district personnel. For the 2002-03 school year, the district encouraged local schools to develop individual induction programs to reduce the attrition rate of new teachers in the Bell County school system.

    In this study, two of these locally and independendy developed induction programs were examined. The research team, composed of a veteran school administrator, an educator, and a teacher educator, chose these two programs for three reasons. First, middle level schools have traditionally had higher rates of attrition than either elementary or high schools (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004; Weiss, 1999). In a national study of teacher attrition, Smidi and Ingersoll (2004) reported that new middle level teachers were twice as likely to leave teaching after the first year as elementary teachers, and they were 50% more likely to leave than new high school teachers. Second, we were curious about how the unique structures of middle level schools, particularly interdisciplinary team organization, might affect teachers' perceptions of their induction. Third, both schools had applied for federal funding that flowed through a nearby university for induction program development and implementation.

    This study is part of a broader program of research, funded by the same university grant, which examined the entire induction processes in these two schools. Our examination of the two middle level school induction programs in this study is a more detailed analysis of how interdisciplinary team organization functions as an element of a comprehensive induction in these two middle level schools. Interdisciplinary team organization, often termed interdisciplinary teaming, is defined as a group of teachers with content or discipline specialties who share a common group of students and work together to achieve success for every student. Specifically, the purpose of this study is to examine participants' (new teachers, mentors, and principals) perceptions of interdisciplinary teaming as an element of induction. In what ways did the participants characterize their experience with interdisciplinary teaming in the induction process? How did interdisciplinary teaming function in relation to other elements of induction in the support of new teachers?

    Serpell and Bozeman (1999) defined induction as the "entry and planned support of new teachers" (p. 165). Educational literature often equates mentoring with induction (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). More recent research (see Johnson & Birkeland, 2003a; Smith & Ingersoll, 2004), however, suggests a broader conceptualization of induction, one that includes more collaborative mechanisms for supporting new teachers' transition from either pre-professional training or other contexts, such as other schools or occupations, to professional educator. Researchers most often measure the effectiveness of induction by the attrition rates of new teachers (Huling-Austin, 1986; Ingersoll, 2001; Ingersoll & Smith, 2003; Johnson & Birkeland, 2003a; Odell & Ferraro, 1992; Serpell & Bozeman, 1999; Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). Without support from induction programs, attrition rates have remained consistently high over the past three decades, between 20% and 30% the first year and escalating to 40% to 50% after 5 years (Ingersoll, 2002; Ingersoll & Smith, 2003; Johnson & Birkeland, 2003a; Mark & Anderson, 1985; Schlechty & Vance, 1983; Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). Recent studies (see Johnson & Birkeland, 2003b; Smith & Ingersoll, 2004) have noted that this attrition rate may include teachers who leave the occupation and those who move to other schools. Nonetheless, teachers who experience planned support through induction programs are dramatically less likely to leave or move to new schools (Ingersoll & Smith, 2003; Odell & Ferraro, 1992; Schlechty & Vance, 1983; Serpell & Bozeman, 1999). Smith and Ingersoll (2004), in a review of the 1999-2000 School and Staffing Survey, noted a 23% decline in teachers leaving the profession or changing schools when teachers experienced a multifaceted induction program. Other researchers reported 84% to 97% retention rates when induction programs are in place (Ingersoll & Smith, 2003; Odell & Ferraro, 1992; Schlechty & Vance, 1983; Serpell & Bozeman, 1999).

    To understand teacher attrition and how induction programs support retention, researchers examined: (a) reasons new teachers leave the profession or transfer schools, (b) school and teaching factors that create dissatisfaction, and (c) factors that enhance teacher satisfaction (Darling-Hammond, 2003; Ganser, 1999; Huling-Austin, 1989; Ingersoll, 2001, 2002; Ingersoll & Smith, 2003; Johnson & Birkeland, 2003a; Veenman, 1984; Weiss, 1999). Beginning teachers noted classroom management, student discipline problems, motivating students, dealing with individual differences, assessing student work, time management, poor salary, lack of administrative support, and lack of faculty influence as areas of dissatisfaction and reasons for leaving the teaching profession (Ganser, 1999; Ingersoll, 2001, 2002; Ingersoll & Smith, 2003; Johnson & Birkeland, 2003a; Veenman, 1984). Work conditions, including administrative support, resources for teaching, collegial interactions, opportunities for growth, teacher input in decision making, teacher autonomy, and positive school climate, have positively influenced teachers' reported attitudes toward exerting more effort in their jobs as well as their intentions to stay in teaching (Darling-Hammond, 2003; Johnson & Birkeland, 2003a; Weiss, 1999).

    Gold (1996) categorized various reasons for dissatisfaction and satisfaction with teaching as personal or professional needs. Professional needs for successful teaching included knowledge, skills, and strategies in content, pedagogy, and personal reflection. Personal needs encompass new
teachers' "sense of self through confidence guiding, developing feelings of effectiveness, encouraging positive self-esteem, enhancing self-reliance, and learning to handle stress" (p. 561).

    Researchers often equate mentoring with induction and focus on mentoring as the means to address new teacher personal and professional needs (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). Yet mentoring is only one distinct element of induction. Other induction elements, such as collaboration and networking through teacher teams, have received far less attention in the literature. Research suggests that collaborative practices, including teacher teams, development of professional community, and teacher networks outside the school, are valuable in meeting new teacher needs and retaining teachers (Johnson & Birkeland, 2003a, 2003b; Powell & Mills, 1994; Smith & Ingersoll, 2004).

    Smith and Ingersoll (2004) identified a 12% decline in new
teacher attrition when collaborative practices such as common planning time with other teachers or collaboration with other teachers on instruction, are added to mentoring and supportive communication with an administrator. Johnson and Birkland (2003a), in their longitudinal qualitative study of new teachers, noted that teachers who experienced schools where schedules are arranged to accommodate team planning and structured opportunities for collegial interaction are more likely to be teaching 3 years into their careers. Powell and Mills (1994) did not examine new teachers specifically in their exploration of collaboration in teacher teams, but they did find that experienced and new teachers' personal and professional needs are met through a school structure that provided daily common planning time. Thus, the literature points to both one-to-one mentoring and collaborative teacher practices as effective in supporting new teachers.

Interdisciplinary Teaming as Collaborative Practice
    Collaboration is a fundamental feature of middle level education through a highly implemented structure labeled interdisciplinary team organization (ITO). ITO is considered the "hallmark," "signature component," and most significant contributor to the middle level concept and middle level education (George & Alexander, 2003; National Middle School Association, NMSA, 2001, 2003). Approximately 77% of middle level schools nationally have implemented ITO (McEwin, Dickinson, & Jenkins, 2003). Proponents of middle level education define an interdisciplinary team (referred to henceforth as team) in the ITO structure as a group of teachers with content or discipline specialties who share a common group of students and work together to achieve success for every student through coordination of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and student support (Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, 1989; George & Alexander, 2003; Jackson & Davis, 2000; NMSA, 1995, 2003). Middle level teaming advocates highly recommend that teams of teachers have daily common planning time in addition to individual planning to coordinate and collaborate as a group (Mertens & Flowers, 2003; NMSA, 2001).

    Studies have reported teams to be effective in promoting student achievement (Felner, Jackson, & Kasak, 1997; Mertens & Flowers, 2003) and supporting teachers as well (Mills, Powell, & Pollak, 1992; Powell & Mills, 1994). Teachers express a reduction in feelings of isolation when working in teams (Mills et al., 1992). Powell and Mills (1994) suggested that teams provide an avenue for teachers to share pedagogical practices and help one another with bureaucratic and clerical issues, provide a venue to encourage and challenge professional practices, provide a means to understand other teacher's subject knowledge, and develop informal supportive relationships. The collegial nature of teams suggests that teaming meets both personal and professional needs.

    To date, research has not specifically examined the role that middle level school teams play in the induction of new teachers. If teams reduce isolation for all teachers and provide a structure for collegial work environments, are they potentially helpful in the positive induction of new teachers? How might teams meet new teachers' personal and professional needs? What is the relationship of teaming to other elements in the induction of new teachers in diese two middle level schools? Using Gold's (1996) personal and professional needs as a framework, the purpose of this study is to examine participants' perceptions of interdisciplinary teaming as an element of induction.

Research Design and Method

School Context
    The sites for this research, North Middle School (NMS) and South Middle School (SMS; all names are pseudonyms), are similar and representative of the school system's socioeconomic composition, ethnic make up, and standardized test scores. Both schools are a part of a small county system in the Southeast that was transitioning from rural to suburban status. In the Bell County Schools, 30% of the students participated in the free and reduced-price meal program, significantly lower than the state average of 43%. Stanford 9 scores in the eighth grade were in the 49th percentile compared to the state average of the 47th percentile. The student population was 84.8% White, higher dian the state average of 65.1%.

    Although each school independently developed an induction program, there were several similarities between the two schools' programs. Each school identified five elements to their induction program--orientation, mentoring, interdisciplinary teams, professional development, and administrators. Each school structured interdisciplinary teams into three or four teachers, representing the areas of mathematics, science, language arts, and social studies. Each team met daily during a common planning time. These schools also organized teachers in other content areas, such as music and physical education, into groups referred to as "connection teams." Connection teams shared common planning times, but not necessarily common students. Moreover, both schools had regularly scheduled grade-level and content-area team meetings. Each grade level and content area met twice a month in addition to the interdisciplinary team's daily meetings. In both schools, the principals assigned mentors to new teachers, matching them in the same content area. At NMS, however, new teachers and mentors met with the principal bimonthly until Christmas, then monthly for the rest of the year. Both schools also provided regular professional development for new teachers in addition to professional development activities for the entire staff. Each school conducted brief orientation activities for new teachers, and all new teachers attended the county's districtwide orientation.

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