Source: Action in Teacher Education, Vol. 32, No. 4, (Winter, 2010), p. 15-25.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The current article highlights the components of comprehensive induction designed to help beginning teachers develop the skills for a more meaningful learning experience.
Context and Methodology
The author observed at the New Teacher Project (NTP) in California as a case in point.
Data collection for this descriptive consisted of multiple sources, including the following:
(a) analysis of program documents, including mentor and administrator handbooks;
(b) structured, open-ended interviews with six NTP mentors, all female Caucasians;
(c) scripted field notes ; and
(d) two focus groups, one comprised of 10 second-year teachers and another of 8 fourth-year teachers, all of whom were "alumni" of the induction program.
The 18 participants, who made up the two focus groups, included 13 female and 5 male and were elementary and secondary teachers representing seven different school districts.
Based on the data, this paper narrows in on a description of two closely intertwined elements of the NTP's comprehensive induction program that together form a strong foundation for a transformational approach to teacher learning.
First, this article explores three salient aspects of instructional mentoring clearly stand out in the NTP:
(a) criteria for mentor selection and ongoing mentor training;
(b) the use of standards and corresponding evidence to guide new teachers in reflection, self-assessment, and goal setting; and
(c) sanctioned time for collaboration that emphasizes a data-based approach to learning.
Second, this paper examines analysis of student work (ASW) as one possible embedded professional development activity that mentors can employ to facilitate novice educators in consciously making sense of their experiences by reflecting upon the impact of their teaching on students' learning.
The author found that the focus group of 10 elementary and secondary second-year teachers unanimously agreed that the collegial relationship that developed with their mentors and a collaborative approach to instructional decision making and problem solving, the foundation for transformative teacher learning, were the most helpful aspects of the program. A case in point follows in the discussion of analysis of student work.
The author suggests that quality mentors are a necessary part of any comprehensive induction program that facilitates transformational teacher learning.
Mentors must possess the expertise to lead by example and skillfully guide their inexperienced colleagues in understanding how their assumptions and beliefs translate into teaching practice.
Furthermore, the author claims that competent and well-trained teachers positively impact their students' learning; hence, investing in a strong foundation for novice teachers' learning is critically important.
The author concludes that accomplished, well-trained mentors also serve as teacher educators who can help shape a climate of transformational learning during induction.