Initial visit

Ideally the initial visit is a structured process where beginning teachers gain initial knowledge and understanding of the school's students and community, how the school operates, roles and responsibilities, and the school-based induction and accreditation processes.

A structured visit

The initial visit to a school is a critical part of the school-based induction process and should be structured. It allows the beginning teacher to get a feel for their new workplace and meet some of people they'll be working with.

A familiar environment and some familiar faces will help to make the beginning teacher's first day more welcoming, less unknown and less stressful.

The initial visit and the 5C model

The 5C model of school-based induction can guide the structure of the initial visit through its 5 components:

  1. Customised: the ways in which the initial induction processes will be customised to fit the beginning teacher's needs
  2. Connections: the initial connections the beginning teacher will have with more experienced teachers, as well as meeting any other beginning teachers
  3. Context: the initial knowledge and understandings about the school context
  4. Curriculum: the initial curriculum knowledge, understanding and practices
  5. Classroom: the initial classroom knowledge, understanding and practices.

Suggestions to customise the induction process to accommodate the needs of the beginning teacher.

Schools could assist beginning teachers by:

  • giving careful consideration to their workloads by closely examining the classes that are assigned to them, providing class-free time and support for planning and preparation, reducing playground duty and/or supporting them on playground duty
  • identifying and accommodating individual teacher concerns and needs
  • setting up regular meeting schedules to monitor support.

Beginning teachers could assist schools by:

  • identifying and describing areas of least confidence: for example, management and planning
  • indicating their areas of expertise or interest
  • articulating preferences for classes, remembering that preferences are not always practically possible.

Suggestions to ensure connections with more experienced teachers and other beginning teachers are available.

Schools could assist beginning teachers by:

  • introducing the following school personnel where applicable and explaining their role in the induction process: principal, supervisor, induction coordinator, mentor/ coach and buddy teacher
  • explaining how personal support will be provided by: establishing contact with other beginning teachers in the school or nearby who have faced similar challenges, offering support from colleagues to cope with practical problems, providing a buddy teacher or colleague to listen to and advise on personal problems and feelings, encouraging collaborative planning, team teaching and co-teaching to reduce workload
  • explaining how social support will be provided by: describing how the staff 'connects' socially, explaining how ‘teams’ and project groups operate in the school, explaining arrangements for the School Development Day
  • explaining how professional support will be provided by: providing a list of professional networks that will be available such as beginning teacher networks and subject area networks, explaining the school's involvement in other networks such as Communities of Schools, indicating whether there will be any regional induction processes available, describing how the school's professional learning community operates.

Beginning teachers could assist schools by:

  • engaging enthusiastically and positively with school personnel - first impressions count
  • understanding and clarifying the roles of school personnel
  • asking questions to clarify any concerns or uncertainties
  • examining and prioritising professional networks that may be available
  • finding out how the school's involvement in other networks supports professional practice.

Suggestions to ensure initial information about the school context is provided.

Schools could assist beginning teachers by:

  • providing a staff or school handbook and a map of the school
  • providing a general overview of school - the staff, students, community
  • explaining the first week at school, including who to report to on the first day
  • explaining significant events in Term 1
  • providing school policies and procedures with a suggested priority order
  • organising a tour of the school that includes: classroom locations, staff rooms, parking, bulletin boards, pigeon holes, first aid room, emergency exits, printers/ fax machines/ photocopy centres, coffee/ tea facilities/ canteen
  • explaining school procedures for the following: keys, security/ ID badges, purchase requests, materials and supplies, room bookings, printing, photocopying, staff communications, telephones, access to the department's intranet and email.

Beginning teachers could assist schools by:

  • compiling a list of questions that need to be addressed during the initial visit
  • requesting copies of information about the school and its context
  • taking notes where hard or electronic copies are not available
  • allowing time after the visit to become familiar with the information provided.

Suggestions to support initial curriculum knowledge, understanding and practices during orientation.

Schools could assist beginning teachers by:

  • describing class structures
  • providing class allocation and class lists if available
  • providing any curriculum materials, school programs and text books needed to begin thinking about planning
  • clarifying school planning expectations and collaborative planning processes
  • providing programs left by the previous teacher/s
  • providing hard copy or relevant syllabus links
  • providing and explaining preferred planning templates
  • explaining how to access student data/ student files
  • explaining particular pedagogical practices, such as an emphasis on explicit teaching
  • explaining and providing copies of school-initiated programs
  • explaining assessment for/of/as learning processes.

Beginning teachers could assist schools by:

  • considering the curriculum information required to ensure the first days in the new workplace are productive
  • being mindful about philosophies or views about practices that may differ from those advocated during pre-service training
  • sensitively sharing and discussing any personal beliefs about teaching and learning
  • sharing and discussing any familiar planning/ programming templates or models
  • allowing time after the visit to examine and absorb curriculum information provided
  • considering where the information intersects with current beliefs and how the information provided can be used to support classroom practices.

Suggestions to support initial classroom knowledge, understanding and practices.

Schools could assist beginning teachers by:

  • identifying particular behaviour programs in use by the school and providing information about these
  • describing classroom and school expectations for behaviour
  • outlining reward systems
  • explaining support for beginning teachers regarding inappropriate student behaviour in the classroom/ playground
  • providing copies of school rules and goals, for example school discipline or positive behaviour for learning (PBL).

Beginning teachers could assist schools by:

  • compiling a list of questions about learning and classroom management
  • considering how to establish a classroom environment where the focus is on learning
  • developing a plan for classroom management - organisation, routines, procedures
  • sensitively sharing and discussing any personal beliefs about classroom practices and management
  • sharing and discussing any familiar models/ programs that support classroom practices
  • allowing considerable time after the visit to study and explore school pedagogical practices, models, behaviour programs, expectations
  • considering where the information provided intersects with current beliefs and how the information provided can be used to support classroom practices.

The Personal induction planner (PIP) can be used by the beginning teacher to record and monitor progress through the early weeks of teaching.

Following an effective orientation, a beginning teacher is well positioned to have a successful first few weeks and first term in teaching.

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