Similarities and differences also extended between the two schools in terms of participants (see Table 1). One of the similarities, which will appear throughout this article, was the use of tides by the participants when referring to each other. Teachers and mentors in both schools referred to the administrators by their titles yet referred consistently to one another by first name. The experience of the two principals was one variation between the two schools. Dr. Kirk was the principal at NMS for 3 years and had previously been the assistant principal at that school. Mr. Thomas was in his second year at SMS as the principal after several years experience as an elementary school principal. A structural difference in the two programs created a unique participant at SMS, the "lead mentor." The lead mentor was a former principal hired to teach half time and to organize and administer the induction program the other half of the day. This lead mentor also facilitated the new teacher professional development, assigned himself to mentor three new teachers, and supported the training and organization of the other mentors in the building. At NMS, the principal fulfilled these assignments with the exception of the mentoring, which she assigned to experienced teachers in the content area of the new teacher. The experience level, subject taught, and school of each mentor and new teacher interviewed will be explicated throughout this article.
This study reanalyzed data collected from a larger study that evaluated the induction programs of NMS and SMS middle school. The original study used a mixed-method design. Written surveys were administered to new teachers and their mentors. The research team interviewed new teachers, mentor teachers, and the school principals. The data from the schools' and state's Web sites about the schools were collected. Both schools defined a new teacher as a first- or second-year teacher or a teacher new to the school. This definition was used in this study.
As a basis for development of the surveys, brief interviews were conducted with system administrators and an analysis of the induction mini-grant applications the schools submitted to the nearby state university was performed. Using this information and feedback from two other researchers with expertise in teacherinduction, two surveys were formulated: one for new teachers and one for mentors. All new teachers (n = 27) and their mentors (n = 16) were surveyed as an additional data source. The response rate for the surveys was 81.5% for new teachers and 93.8% for mentors.
Table 1. Description of Participants
Group Pseudonym Experience area Gender pseudonym
Teacher Janice 3 years plus 2 years Language arts F North
as a substitute[supa]
Teacher Emily 2 years Science F North
Teacher Jack 8 years[supa] Mathematics M South
Teacher Lynn 1 year English F South
Teacher Ron 1 year Science, M South
Mentor Holly 25 years Language arts F North
Mentor Paula Approximately 12 to Math, Science F North
Mentor Fiona 24 years; 22 years at Science F South
Mentor Mike More than 22 years in Language arts M South
education; previously a Social studies
principal for 10 years;
2nd year at school
Principal Dr. Kirk Assistant principal for N/A F North
2 years at the school
prior to this; her 3rd yeae
Principal Mr. Thomas Principal at this school N/A M South
2 years; former
[supa]An experienced teacher new to the building and required to participate in new teacher activities.
In the spring, interviews were conducted with two new teachers at SMS and three new teachers at NMS, their respective mentors, and one administrator at each school. Using three semistructured interview guides, as outlined by Patton (2002), the research team developed questions for each of the three participant groups. Sample interview questions for teachers included, "In what ways were you made to feel valued at this school?" and "What elements of this year's school induction process were helpful (not helpful) to you?" Mentor interview questions paralleled those of the new teachers, such as "In what ways was your protיgי made to feel valued at this school?" Interview questions for principals included, "What goals did you have for the induction program at this school?" and "What elements of the induction program seemed to be most effective (least effective) in meeting the desired goals for the induction program?" Nine of the 11 original interviewees provided oral feedback on the accuracy of the interview summaries.
Survey data analysis. The surveys asked general questions concerning the helpfulness and support of the five elements of the schools' induction programs--orientation, mentoring, interdisciplinary teams, professional development, and administrators. There were 27 parallel Likert-type items and 7 parallel short-answer questions on both sets of surveys. A grand mean was calculated for all participants and questions as well as means for mentor and teacher groups across all Likert-type questions. The surveys were statistically analyzed using a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) comparing individual responses between mentors and new teachers. After the initial ANOVA, the questions were collapsed into five groups that corresponded to the five elements of the induction program: orientation, mentoring, interdisciplinary teams, professional development, and administrators. A second one-way ANOVA was then conducted to compare the two teacher groups for each of the five elements of the induction program. Two members of the research team analyzed the open-ended questions through an inductive process using participants' words and word phrases, as suggested by Strauss and Corbin (1998). These codes were then categorized for analysis.
Interview data analysis. An abductive analysis process was used, combining both inductive and deductive methods as outlined by Denzin (1978), to analyze the interview data. The research team developed a typology derived by "dividing everything observed into groups or categories ... for disaggregating the whole phenomenon under study" (LeCompte, Preissle, & Tesch, 1993, p. 257). The typology provided a better understanding of which induction elements participants viewed as most helpful in meeting various types of teacher needs.
The typology connected the data hi a chain of concepts (see Figure 1). The first concept in the chain identified one of the five elements of the induction process. The second concept indicated the participant's identification of a personal or professional need. The third concept was the actual need being discussed. If the need was met, then the chain was coded positive; if not, then it was coded negative. If the element was meeting teachers' needs and at the same time creating a new issue, then it was coded as both. For example, if the participant commented on how the interdisciplinary team positively helped new teachers develop curriculum, the chain would be coded Interdisciplinary Team-Professional Need--Curriculum-Positive. Two members of the research team coded all data as a team, reaching consensus on each code to ensure quality control.
Figure 1. Coding links and definitions from a broader study.
First link: Second link: Third link:
Elements of the Indicator of Specific descriptor
induction program effectiveness of the indicator Value
M = P = Personal need: Indicators of No code indicated:
Mentor Feelings related to personal needs: positive perception
self-confidence, Belonging, autonomy,
T = effectiveness. competence, No code indicated:
Interdisciplinary self-esteem, self- respect, stress; negative perception
team reliance, stress. emotional support
including collegial- Both indicated
A = D = Professional ity and cama- positive and
Administrator need: Knowledge, raderie; expectation negative
skills and strategies understood. perceptions
PD = in content, peda
Professional gogy, and personal Indicators of
development reflection that are professional
important in suc needs: Curriculum,
O = cessful teaching. instruction, assess
Orientation ment, discipline.
C = Climate: "The management.
X = set of internal char resources, student
Other teams acteristics that dis motivation.
(grade level and tinguish one school
content teams)[supa] from another and Indicators of
influence the be climate: Any of
havior of its mem the personal or
bers" (Hoy & professional indica
Hannum, 1997, tors discussed in a
p. 297). schoolwide fashion.
[supa] Element added to the typology after analysis.
This type of analysis can be less flexible than other qualitative methods because it requires researchers to use units of analysis intrinsic to the typology (LeCompte et al., 1993). Occasionally, significant data were found that did not fit the typology. This was resolved by adding one additional concept link and marking four additional categories. The additional concept chain was labeled "other teams" and included content-area and grade-level teams. Other teams became the sixth element in the induction program. The four additional coding categories were goals of the program, results of the program, adaptations to the program, and the most important element (see Table 2).
Findings Survey data indicated that each element of the induction program was helpful in the induction process of new teachers. Mentors and new teachers indicated that people--mentors (M= 3.43), interdisciplinary teams (M= 3.48), and administrators (M= 3.38)--had greater positive influence in the induction of new teachers than activities. Activity induction elements were professional development (M= 3.05) and orientation (M= 3.06). No statistically significant difference was found in perception between mentors and teachersregarding components of the induction program, with the exception of orientation materials, F(1, 41) = 3.1, p < .05. New teachers saw this element of the induction program as more valuable for them than did mentors. When the question in the open-ended portion of the survey asked new teachers, "What element of this year's school induction process was most helpful to you?" teams and mentors both received 31.8% of the responses. When new teachers were asked which person or group of people was most helpful and supportive in the short-answer portion of the survey, teams and mentors both received 31.8% of the responses. Three teachers (13.6%) listed both the team and mentor as equally helpful. Mentors were chosen for their knowledge and expertise. Teams were identified as most important because of the availability of team members.
The key finding from the interview portion of this umbrella study supports the notion that all three participant groups--teachers, mentors, and administrators--perceived all elements of the induction program as helping new teachers make the transition to the schools and teaching. The research team reached this conclusion by examining the code chains within the interviews of individual participants and then comparing them across participant groups. The research team developed an enumeration system to supplement and corroborate the findings (LeCompte et al., 1993; Ryan & Bernard, 2000; see Table 2).
Another salient finding from the interview analysis of the umbrella study indicated that each element of the induction programs played a different role in the positive perception of the participants. The expanded six elements of the induction programs--mentors, interdisciplinary team, administration, professional development, orientation, and content-area and grade- level teams (added from the interview data)--contributed differently in meeting new teachers' professional and personal needs. The participants viewed mentors and administrators as contributing most to the personal needs of new teachers. The three participant groups identified mentors, interdisciplinary teams, and professional development as contributing most to new teachers' professional needs.
Table 2. Enumeration System Counts of Chains for All Participants From Broader Study
Interdisciplinary Teams and Meeting New Teachers' Needs The initial analysis of the data indicated that the middle level practice of teaming was a major element in helping new teachers negotiate their transition to teaching or to a new school. This conclusion promoted further investigation and the reanalysis of the data to better understand the role of interdisciplinary teaming in the induction process of new teachers at NMS and SMS. The research team used Gold's (1996) broad framework of personal and professional needs to situate the data. This model was adapted to include both Gold's identifiers of personal and professional needs and those of researchers who have identified working conditions that contribute to teacher retention and professional performance. The resulting identifiers for personal needs were as follows: a sense of belonging (Gold, 1996; Johnson & Birkeland, 2003a), autonomy (Weiss, 1999), competence (Gold, 1996), emotional support through camaraderie and collegiality (Gold, 1996; Johnson & Birkeland, 2003a; Veenman, 1984; Wang & Odell, 2002), means of coping with stress (Gold, 1996), and a clear expectation of duties and responsibilities (Schlechty, 1985; Weiss, 1999). Professional needs identifiers included the following: support in the development and delivery of curriculum, instructions, and assessment (Darling-Hammond, 1998; Gold, 1996); management of clerical, classroom, and student issues (Johnson & Birkeland, 2003a; Veenman, 1984; Weiss, 1999); adequacy of resources (Johnson & Birkeland, 2003a; Odell & Ferraro, 1992); and student motivation (Darling-Hammond, 1998; Veenman, 1984).
The reanalysis began with determining how many participants discussed teams as helping new teachers in the induction process. Every participant provided from 2 to 10 comments about the nature of teams in supporting new teachers. The researchers then analyzed how teams met personal and professional needs. How teams function in relationship to odier elements of induction was also explored. Finally, aspects of teaming that may diminish their power to support new teachers were categorized.
Meeting Personal Needs As noted previously, the participants did not identify teams as the most powerful element of the induction program hi meeting new teachers' personal needs. The participants did, however, report that teams contributed positively to the personal needs of new teachers. The participants described teams as emotionally supporting new teachers and providing a sense of competence.
Emotional support through collegiality and camaraderie. "If I had to move to a junior high and they didn't have the team setting, I would hope they would have a program like teaming where you can vent and talk regularly." This statement by Emily, a second-year teacher at NMS, strikes at the heart of how teams provided emotional support to teachers. It was the accessibility of teams (i.e., their regular contact) that built a mechanism for teachers to share frustrations, dilemmas, and personal and professional issues. New teachers had time and opportunity scheduled into the school day to form supportive relationships with experienced teachers and often other new teachers. As Dr. Kirk related, "The teams are really a strong home base for them [new teachers]." Mike, the lead mentor at SMS, echoed this sentiment and talked about the bonding that occurred in teams:
They [team members] spend all their time together. When we talk about planning time if you want to find a teacher in this building on a team, you go to the team leader's room and that's where they'll be almost every day, for their entire planning time, not just team planning time.
Ron, a first-year science and language arts teacher at SMS, suggested that the daily planning period adds to relationship building through regular communication, "We talk about everything, frustrations that we're having throughout the week."
In addition to arranging common planning time, administrators located teachers on the same team near each other in the building. Regular dialogue in planning meetings spilled into personal relationships that extended beyond the planning meeting. Holly, a 25-year veteran teacher who also mentored a new teacher on another team, discussed how her protיgי's informal contact with his team was supportive:
Chuck will look out of his room and it's 4:10 or 4:15 and they'll [his team] be standing out in the hall and kind of laughing and joking around about something. He'll join in. You need that kind of stuff after a long day. So, yes, I think the teams are working real nice. And I would much prefer to be in a school where they did.
The daily contact, communication, and accessibility of the team structure provided new teachers a place and space to develop a sense of collegiality and camaraderie with other teachers. This "home base" acted as a gateway for other personal and professional needs to be met.
Competence through teams. The teams' role in supporting new teachers' needs to feel competent surfaced as another important function of teaming. New teachers appreciated that the team would use and value their skills. Although she was a second-year science teacher at NMS, Emily was on a new team in her second year. When asked what made her feel valued at this school, Emily responded:
They [my team] give me responsibilities, things that I do well. Like I'm just more proficient than my team leader at the computer. She will come to me with things like the failing grade list. I think she comes to me before other veteran teachers.
Janice was a new teacher to NMS, but was in her third year of teaching. She had taken a 2-year hiatus from teaching after a bad experience at another school earlier in her career. Her previous school did not practice teaming. "I do not have that nervous feeling like at my other school, as far as being unsure of myself," she commented. When asked what made the difference between the earlier negative experience and the one at NMS, she said, "The team is the key difference."
Mentors also expressed the important function of teams in helping new teachers feel competent. Responding to the question, "What specific things made new teachers feel valued at NMS," Paula, an experienced math and science teacher and mentor responded with the following statement:
Making them feel part of the team. Everybody in the school helps--administration, content team, and grade team help--but we [the interdisciplinary team] are the ones that put them forth as a teacher and talk to them not trying to belittle yhem and not making them feel like they don't know what they are doing.
In fact, mentors expressed genuine respect for the competence of their new team members. "I've stolen a few things from my fresh-out-of-college teacher," says Fiona, a 24-year veteran science teacher at SMS. "We'll be talking in planning, and I'll say, this is what I want to do with my kids. Now how do I go about doing it?" The follow-up question in the interview was, "How did the new teacher react?" Fiona responded, "I drink it makes her [die new teacher] feel, well, important, but it's also just part of how we share on our team."
The notion of sharing pedagogical strategies within teams highlighted the blending of personal and professional needs being met by teams. Sharing new professional practices contributed to a sense of competence in Fiona's recollection. It also suggested that teaming practices provide a forum for improved professional practices of new teachers. Dichotomizing teaming experiences into a personal and professional frame provided insights into how participants viewed each experience. As the data suggests, however, the same experience provided support to new teachers' bodi personally and professionally.
Meeting Professional Needs Mr. Thomas, the principal of SMS, gave an example of how teaming practices meet both personal and professional needs.
Teams help new teachers with the nuts and bolts of the day. They help [new teachers] with how kids come into the classrooms. What do I need to be doing as they come in? So it's 8:15, I need to be here in the doorway watching the kids. The team helps new teachers with all these everyday nuts and bolts.
The "nuts and bolts" of the day provided new teachers with basic management strategies. These strategies helped new teachers gain a sense of competence, but it also provided professional practices that helped the new teacher be more effective.
Management practices through teams. When examining how teams supported professional needs, participants focused most on management strategies. Teams provided a regular forum for new teachers to gain insight from veterans about school policies, procedures, and clerical requirements. In addition, because teams shared the same students, new teachers gleaned insight into general classroom management strategies as well as those related to specific students.
Teams provided new teachers with guidance on their daily duties as a professional. They provided guidance on school and district expectations for teachers and student behavior, information concerning school policies, and school communication. As noted earlier by Mr. Thomas, teams supported new teachers on the simple tasks of where to be and when. Ron, the first-year science and language arts teacher at SMS explained, "It was mostly the little things early in the year; expectations, like standing outside your classroom waiting for those kids to come first thing in the morning and between classes," that teams were able to explicate for new teachers. Emily, a new teacher at NMS, appreciated her team for helping her with district policy. Although she received information about sick days at the district orientation prior to school starting, it was not until April that she actually needed sick leave. "I didn't know what I was supposed to do. I just knew who I'd call, Betty [a teammate]."
The team also helped new teachers negotiate the clerical and general management issues of teaching. The team discussed many organizational and housekeeping items during team planning meetings. Ron provided one example: "This week we planned field trips we were planning to take. We planned for student support meetings, you know, meeting with parents about what students were doing academic wise." Lynn, a first-year language arts teacher at SMS, in her planning meetings outlined how teams helped:
We meet for all the junk that comes through email. So and so was sponsoring a so and so program and I need to do this about that. Should I volunteer? As a teacher you have to go through all that. We kind of go through that together, and I find out what to do.
As Fiona, the 24-year veteran, stated, "This stuff [clerical and general management] was overwhelming. They [new teachers] get support from all of us [team members]." The most helpful support for new teachers both in terms of personal and professional needs, however, centered on management issues related to students. Every participant commented on the teams' efforts in support of new teachers in setting discipline expectations, dealing with student management issues, and helping students be more successful. All new teachers expressed, in some fashion, what Ron said: "Our team was just making sure we're all on the same page with what we're doing with discipline. The kids just know what's expected. ... You can just talk about your frustration about working with my kids." Mentors and principals also understood the value of regular discussion about students and management issues. Fiona, Dr. Kirk, Mr. Thornton, and Pam used virtually the same language as Mike when he noted the following:
They are teaching the same kids. They meet daily. So everybody knows the kids they are working with. If Bobby's having trouble in my class, he's having trouble in your class, then that gives them [new teachers] support and an opportunity to do strategies and work better with kids. That's the strength of teams.
Besides management issues related to student discipline, teams also provided a collegial means to support new teachers in their efforts to help students be more successful. When talking about how teams help new teachers, Fiona, the mentor and team leader at SMS, said, "We have a team meeting and we discuss problems the new teacher, well all of us are having. 'Ok, little Johnny's having trouble, he's not getting it?' Ok let's see if we can come up with some kind of plan to help him get his act together and be successful." This team focus on the issues of new teachers ultimately helps them with strategies to enhance student success but also gives them collegial professional support when all team teachers focus and coordinate the intervention. Janice tells a story of how the team's collaborative focus in solving a dilemma about having to retain a student was an exemplar of this support:
I had a couple of kids at the end of the third 9 weeks that were looking to fail. So we [the team] did what we decided as a team. We were going to isolate them, give them all their work to get them caught up. Everybody on the team put in extra work. It was hard on us, but it worked positively. The kids are now passing.
The daily interaction with other teachers provided a forum for new teachers to elicit support from other teachers for all management issues, especially student management issues.
Meeting curriculum and instruction needs. Although not nearly as prominent in meeting new teachers professional needs as issues of management, teams did serve to meet distinct curriculum and instructional needs. Mentioned most frequentiy was the help that new teachers received in planning for unfamiliar and integrated curriculum and instructional strategies within that curriculum. Two factors created the need for this assistance. First, part of the middle level concept is the integration of subject matter between and within subjects. In addition, because of growth issues, two new teachers were on three-person teams where everyone taught social studies even though only one person on the team had an endorsement in the subject. Both mentors and new teachers expressed how teams helped new teachers navigate curriculum and instructional issues. "Since we all have to teach geography," noted Ron, the first-year science and language arts teacher, "we spend some time talking about geography everyday, what we're planning to do for the next week, and when we decide that we're either using worksheets, activities, whatever the strategy is." Lynn, the second-year language arts teacher, expressed her frustration to her team about not having appropriate material for integrating language arts with the social studies curriculum on Muslim culture: "I don't have any literature that deals with that book Sam [the social studies teacher] was using about Muslims. The team meeting helped a lot. We brainstormed ideas and I got to vent my frustrations."
Other instructional collaborative supports were available to new teachers through teaming. New teachers were able to elicit help from other team members to reinforce difficulties in experience or skill level. Lynn, the first-year language arts teacher explained:
Me [sic] and Doug [another team member] were speaking about dimensions, like the first, second, third dimension. I was like, 'Look. I tried to explain it yesterday. I'm creative but I can't get to the logic of it. Can you help with that in your math class today? Can you draw them, the different dimensions? I'm not making any sense.' He said sure. And that was that.
Even though teams, in the larger study, were not the most influential element in meeting new teacher professional needs, they did provide important positive support to new teachers in respect to management, curriculum and instruction.