Induction experiences of novice teachers and their coaches

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Published: 
August 2021

Source: Teacher Development, 25:4, 411-431

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This research explores the design and coaching elements of The Center of Teacher Innovation (CTI), the largest teacher induction program in California.
Specifically, the authors investigate the experiences of beginning teachers and their coaches throughout induction, as well as the influence of certain induction structures on two program outcomes:
professional learning through inquiry success and reported impact on classroom practice.
The following research questions guide the study:
(1) How do novice teachers’ and coaches’ descriptions about their induction experience compare and contrast with one another?
(2) What design features of induction are associated with novice teachers’ reported success on program outcomes?

Method

Data collection
The instrument used for the present study is the 2016–17 Candidate-Coach Match Satisfaction Follow-up Survey, which was completed by Candidates and Coaches through the learning management system.
These annual surveys examine both the Candidate and Coach experience throughout induction and are administered at the completion of each academic year.
Separate but substantively identical surveys were given to Candidates and Coaches.
The surveys have 18 base questions, several with multiple sub-questions, to gather the Candidates’ and Coaches’ experience with their specific coaching match, the frequency and duration of their coaching meetings, and satisfaction with the induction program curriculum.
After each subsection, there were opportunities for respondents to leave comments.
Of the nine optional opportunities to leave comments, three of them asked targeted comments about the previous question.

Data analysis
The presence of both multiple-choice and open-response questions allowed for the integration of multiple methods for analysis.
The authors take a mixed-methods approach to the data (Tashakkori and Teddlie 2010) to understand the complexity of induction.
Of the 2621 total Candidates enrolled in the program, 2351 completed the survey for a 90% response rate.
Of the 1262 Coaches working with these Candidates, 1127 responded to the survey for a response rate of 89.3%.

Results and discussion
Quantitative analyses indicate several areas in which Candidates and Coaches differed in beliefs as well as several aspects of induction that significantly predicted outcomes related to Candidates’ program success.
Respondent comments were qualitatively analyzed to detail the induction experience from Candidates and their Coaches, indicating that while most comments were positive in nature, there were differences in what each group reflected on about induction.
Results suggest three findings that address the research questions, discussed below.
First, novice teachers and induction coaches view induction experiences differently.
In contrasting participants’ descriptions about induction, the authors used t-tests to identify statistical differences between Candidates’ and Coaches’ rating of the coaches’ skills and the impact of certain areas of the classroom.
Furthermore, qualitative analyses suggest that Coaches can be particularly focused on program operations.
Coaches may feel personally responsible for their Candidates’ programmatic success or they may be caught up with the amount of time and effort it takes to coach, as many are also full-time teachers.
Coaches’ word clusters highlighted the challenges and difficulties in understanding and completing various program requirements with Candidates.
These results are the first of their kind that look at the separate perceptions of teaching from novice teachers and their coaches.
However, it coincides with teacher education literature that highlights the differences in how beginning and experienced teachers view their classroom (e.g., Wolff et al. 2015) but here, in a more specific teacher coaching context.
Second, coaches and coaching positively influence novice teachers’ experiences throughout induction as the primary design feature of induction.
Many Candidate comments focused on the relationship with their Coach and in primarily positive terms.
Throughout word clusters, relationships indicate that they tended to have Coaches who provided them with adequate support for their teaching. From the Candidates’ perspective, the Coach is an important component, making or breaking their induction experience.
Relatedly, the quantitative analyses indicate that coaching skills had a positive association with Candidate impact on teaching.
These results suggest a promising, albeit unsurprising, finding that confirms previous research stating the importance of coaches to the induction experience of novice teachers (e.g., Gibbons and Cobb 2017).
This could be as a result of the skills that induction coaches have and the support they can provide in completing the induction-inquiry cycle curriculum.
This finding provides additional evidence that coaching is important to beginning teacher development (e.g., Knight and Cornett 2009), even amidst a large-scale program such as CTI, which was a concern of Kraft, Blazar, and Hogan (2018).
Third, induction structures, beyond coaching, matter for novice teacher development.
Quantitative analyses indicate that the learning management system and the curricular structure were positively associated with Candidate inquiry success and impact on teaching. These are two design structures of induction directly addressing Kraft, Blazar, and Hogan’s (2018) call for additional research in this area.
That is, how respondents interact, learn from, and collaborate within a learning management system impacts how novice teachers grow.
There needs to be a reliable and accessible mode to convey information, and this had a direct impact on novice teachers.
Similarly, the novice teacher curriculum content itself also is vital.
Curriculum that built on the preliminary credential, supported district professional development, and was consistent with teacher evaluation was particularly helpful for Candidates’ inquiry success and impact on teaching.
This means that induction curriculum needs to be thoughtfully crafted in the context of, or in conjunction with, local teacher preparation programs and districts.
This would prevent any overlap throughout programs and prioritize effective ‘vertical professional development’ for the novice teacher.
Furthermore, qualitative analyses indicate that characteristics of what makes a good match between a coach and novice teacher can have an impact on induction experiences.
While inherently related to the importance of coaching, described above, both Candidates and Coaches specifically commented on various characteristics in their coach pairings.
For Candidates, they discussed their Coach’s personality, style, and previous experiences, while for Coaches, they expressed having similarities (or not) in school site, grade level, and program.
While both Candidates and Coaches expressed the importance of having a good match, they defined it in substantively different ways.
Candidates described personality similarities whereas Coaches described contextual similarities.
This suggests that the respondent role could differently define what makes a good match.
A good match does not necessarily mean having the same characteristics, which oftentimes is assumed to be the case.
Instead, it could be about individual desired fit.
That is, a good match could be a blend of interpersonal characteristics, which is becoming commonplace in other professional fields, such as nursing (Sawatzky and Enns 2009), medicine (Kashiwagi, Varkey, and Cook 2013), and business (Menges 2016).

References
Gibbons, L. K., and P. Cobb. 2017. “Focusing on Teacher Learning Opportunities to Identify Potentially Productive Coaching Activities.” Journal of Teacher Education 68 (4): 411–425.
Kashiwagi, D. T., P. Varkey, and D. A. Cook. 2013. “Mentoring Programs for Physicians in Academic Medicine: A Systematic Review.” Academic Medicine 88 (7): 1029–1037.
Knight, J., and J. Cornett. 2009. “Studying the Impact of Instructional Coaching 4.0”. Unpublished manuscript. Center of Research on Teaching, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.
Kraft, M. A., D. Blazar, and D. Hogan. 2018. “The Effect of Teacher Coaching on Instruction and Achievement: A Meta-Analysis of the Causal Evidence.” Review of Educational Research 88 (4): 547–588.
Menges, C. 2016. “Toward Improving the Effectiveness of Formal Mentoring Programs: Matching by Personality Matters.” Group and Organization Management 41 (1): 98–129.
Sawatzky, J. V., and C. L. Enns. 2009. “A Mentoring Needs Assessment: Validating Mentorship in Nursing Education.” Journal of Professional Nursing 25 (3): 145–150.
Tashakkori, A., and C. Teddlie, eds. 2010. Sage Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social and Behavioral Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Wolff, C. E., N. van den Bogert, H. Jarodzka, and H. P. Boshuizen. 2015. “Keeping an Eye on Learning: Differences between Expert and Novice Teachers’ Representations of Classroom Management Events.” Journal of Teacher Education 66 (1): 68–85.

Updated: Feb. 08, 2022
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