Source: Teacher Development, Vol. 16, No. 2, May 2012, 235–253
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study aimed at developing a culturally responsive scheme for inducting and mentoring Emirati novice teachers.
The aim of this study was to reach consensus over the different components necessary for an induction programme responsive to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) context.
The Delphi technique is well suited as a method for building such consensus.
Utilising a modified Delphi technique, quantitative and qualitative data were collected over three rounds.
At first, a survey consisting of 34 multiple-choice and five open-ended questions was completed by 100 educators from various school districts.
Then, a modified survey was completed by 18 Delphi participants.
In the third round and in focus-group sessions, Delphi participants revisited their judgements over controversial issues to reach consensus.
In the UAE, the prevalent view has been that new graduates from teacher education programmes are ready to fulfil their duties as teachers without being provided with support from schools or school districts.
This study attempted to change this view.
Teacher induction should be seen as a stage of the learning-to-teach process that begins with initial preparation in the teacher education programme and continues after induction through professional development.
Who needs induction and for how long?
Findings from this study revealed that all recently employed Emirati novice teachers in government schools in the UAE regardless of subject matter or preparation programme need support with their teaching and should participate in an induction programme.
This study revealed that the UAE induction programme should last for one year only.
Some Delphi participants argued against giving novices a second year for induction with the opinion that if novices did not prove themselves during the first year, they would never become effective teachers.
Mentor selection, training, matching to novices, and workload
The findings revealed that all novice teachers participating in the induction programme should be assigned qualified mentors and that mentors should be selected according to certain criteria.
According to participants, an experienced teacher should have at least five years of successful teaching experience as evidenced by an ‘excellent’ grade on yearly reports.
The potential mentor should provide evidence of substantial participation in professional development activities over the past five years.
Assessment of the programme
The issue of assessing the induction programme in the UAE was the focus of considerable discussion by Delphi participants.
They concurred that the programme itself should be evaluated annually by the organising committee and revised as needed.
With regard to the assessment of novice teachers, the agreement was that formative and summative assessments are keys to the success of the induction programme.
In addition, both should be conducted by a committee that includes the mentor, a supervisor from the education zone, and a university professor.
Discussions with Delphi participants revealed that evaluation of teachers in the UAE is an extremely important issue as teachers are sensitive about their annual reports.
They highlighted that if assessment is left to the mentor alone, personal or other factors could interfere and lead to unfair or subjective results.
The participants also claimed that principals should write reports about the novice teacher’s participation in administrative work and interactions with the school community.
However, these reports would be complementary and would not revoke a decision made by the summative assessment committee.
Pedagogical and general issues
In the UAE, the relationship between the supervisor and the teacher tends to be exclusive – it happens in the absence of other teachers in schools.
However, the participants argued that the mentor and novice should understand that induction is a group process and that it is encouraged to seek help and advice from others in the school and maintain an open and friendly relationship with the school community.
Therefore, the collaborative approach should exist in the induction programme.
It should be noted that in Abu Dhabi Emirate, expatriate teachers in private schools must pass a teacher licence exam organised by Abu Dhabi Education Council.
Emirati national teachers are not required to pass any certification or licensing exams.
Findings of this study revealed that participants are against the idea of having a licence exam after completing the induction programme.
They argued that upon successful completion of the proposed induction programme, novice teachers should automatically be provided professional licensure to teach in the UAE government schools.
This study aimed at devising a scheme for inducting and mentoring novice teachers in the UAE.
The scheme shares many of the bases of induction and mentoring programmes.
However, three differences are evident:
formative and summative assessments are carried out by a committee,
the programme should only last for one year,
and passing the induction programme should be enough – no teaching licence exam is required.
These three differences should be viewed in light of the cultural context of the UAE education system.
The first point could be attributed to the bureaucratic nature of the system – forming a committee is the norm at government institutions in the UAE.
The second point could be due to the novelty of the idea of induction.
The third point relates to the fact that teaching licensing is not yet required for Emirati teachers so they think induction is enough.