Stakeholders in the induction process
Stakeholders in the induction process include the beginning teacher and other staff at the school. Roles and responsibilities will vary depending on the task, the school and the phase of induction.
Throughout the induction process beginning teachers are supported by various colleagues including the principal, supervisor, mentor/ coach, buddy teacher and colleagues. Depending on the school size and context, these roles may be taken by a number of colleagues, or in smaller schools one colleague may assume a number of roles.
Each of the stakeholders is crucial to the induction process. Each plays a key role in assisting a beginning teacher’s development into a capable and confident teaching professional.
Wong claims the process of induction is a highly organised and comprehensive form of staff development, involving many people and many components.
The roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders in the induction process will vary in nature and intensity, depending on the task and the phase of induction.
It is the responsibility of the beginning teacher to engage in their school-based induction process, reflect on their professional competence, and take responsibility for managing the process towards gaining their proficient teacher accreditation.
The beginning teacher plays an important but not solitary role in this induction process. They are the nucleus of what could be termed a school-based induction team, and they share equal responsibility for the induction along with the principal and other staff.
School-based induction processes support beginning teachers to move beyond the ‘reality shock’ (Barry & King) of their first teaching experiences to become confident and competent teachers.
It is expected that the beginning teacher will alert members of the school-based induction team to concerns and needs as they arise, and seek clarification about induction procedures and processes as required.
To support school-based induction processes, beginning teachers need to:
- be an active participant in the induction process, honour commitments, participate in professional learning activities and engage with the school induction team
- be aware of and identify professional needs through purposeful reflection on the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (the standards)
- advocate for personal, professional learning needs and seek feedback from a supervisor and school-based mentor
- understand the standards and the requirements for accreditation at the proficient stage
- actively manage their own accreditation process
- effectively demonstrate the competencies required of teachers at the proficient stage and complete all mandatory training, for example, Child Protection.
The principal has overall responsibility for all teachers in the school and will be required to make the accreditation decision (of gaining accreditation at the proficient career stage) of the beginning teacher.
The principal’s role is pivotal to ensure all school-based induction processes are carried out comprehensively and successfully at the school level.
A successful school-based induction is a multi-faceted process. It's a collaborative, organised and sustained multi-year program that involves a team of stakeholders at the school level.
Watkins cites Mike Heffner, the Vice President, Leadership Development:
Like a conductor who brings the musicians together to perform a symphony or a basketball coach who encourages the team from the sideline throughout a game, a principal's role is to identify, maximize and coordinate all the available resources to run a school.
Principals can use the performance and development plan (PDP) process with each beginning teacher, and ensure this process aligns to and supports the achievement of proficient teacher accreditation. They can facilitate participation in standards-based professional development opportunities, professional collaboration and dialogue, and encourage teachers to work together.
Principals can also ensure beginning teachers and their supervisors understand the structure and organisation of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (the standards) and the policies and procedures for gaining accreditation.
In the past, discussions of teacher induction have not considered the role of the school principal (Zeichner & Gore) and researchers and experts typically limit their recommendations for principal support of induction to program advocacy and beginning-of-the-year orientations (Brock & Grady). Because of the demands on the principal’s time, the responsibility for school-based induction processes is delegated to other team members and the principal’s role ends after the initial welcome meeting and tour of the school.
Watkins (2011) also comments on the role of principals in induction processes:
The positive impact of a leader who creates a caring learning community focused on student success is evident to all, including beginning teachers.
Research reveals that inadequate support from school administration is one of the 3 most often reported causes of a new teacher's decision to leave the profession. Principals who are knowledgeable about the issues affecting new teachers, proactive in supporting them, and committed to professional growth do make a significant difference.
- Be aware of the challenges beginning teachers face. By knowing when disillusionment, frustration and feelings of inadequacy might be amplified such as around assessments, reporting time, parent conferences and so on, a principal can be prepared to better meet the needs of their beginning teachers.
- Remind staff that the new teacher is still learning. In the past, there has been a perception that teachers graduate from pre-service programs as fully-formed teachers, prepared for all the responsibilities they will face. Now we embrace the norm of life-long learning for all educators.
- Reinforce life-long learning by articulating it explicitly to all staff, especially new teachers. Principals can provide a school where beginning teachers feel safe to take risks and embrace learning throughout their professional lives.
- Value and articulate the vitality that new teachers bring to their school. Building a community where every person is valued, including the newest members of the staff their understanding of current innovations in teaching strategies and thinking, competence with new technology, and their energy and optimism, goes a long way to make a new teacher feel appreciated and respected.
- Understand the components of an effective induction program and integrate it into the overall school goals and performance and development plans (PDPs). Truly effective and sustained induction programs need to be integral to overall school operation. A principal's ability to explain the components of induction to staff, parents, and the school community - and see induction as part of the infrastructure of the school - strengthens support for beginning teachers.
- Know the role of the mentor. While emotional support is important in building trust and accelerating beginning teacher growth, mentors must do much more. Instructional mentors focus their support on teaching and learning. The principal who knows the strategies and tools that comprise - mentor and beginning teacher work, classroom observations, analysing student work, accessing school and community resources and planning lessons - avoids misunderstandings and aligns support.
Principals will support beginning teachers when they ensure an ongoing induction program that involves the 4 phases of induction - orientation, developing focus, refining practice and gaining proficient teacher accreditation - as well as maintaining a supportive, nurturing and collaborative school environment that encourages and appreciates critical enquiry and reflection. Additionally, principals can:
- Ensure that beginning teachers are assigned to subject areas and year/ stage levels for which they are qualified to teach and limit the number of challenging students in their classes to maximise their chances of success.
- Set and clearly articulate high expectations for teaching and learning and provide positive, honest feedback.
- Demonstrate their care and concern and personally observe beginning teachers in the classroom and offer counselling and advice.
- Ensure an open-door policy, maintain regular communication and acknowledge the achievements of beginning teachers.
Every teacher, including casual and temporary teachers, has a supervisor who is usually a member of the school executive. The supervisor supports professional growth and development towards the beginning teacher's achievement of the standards at the proficient career stage.
The supervisor may be a person in an executive position, for example, the assistant principal, head teacher, deputy principal or principal.
In particular circumstances, an experienced teacher may take on the role and responsibilities of a supervisor. This experienced teacher is specifically selected by the school due to their expertise in teaching and learning, their exemplary communication skills, and their sound knowledge and understanding of how the school works.
The supervisor plays a crucial role in induction and is often the person who has the most direct contact with beginning teachers. Supervisors can support induction processes to:
- co-develop and oversee a contextualised school-based induction program
- during a beginning teacher's orientation, encourage suitable experienced teachers to become a mentor/ coach and approach appropriate experienced teachers to act as buddy teachers
- ensure that beginning teachers have access to, and engagement with, all relevant documentation, legal requirements, professional expectations and the responsibilities and obligations outlined in departmental policies
- ensure beginning teachers are supported through the accreditation process at the proficient stage of the standards
- use the performance and development plan (PDP) process with beginning teachers and ensure the process aligns to and supports proficient teacher accreditation
- provide an overview of expectations in relation to teaching and learning programs within the school
- collaboratively plan and program for teaching and learning
- review, analyse and provide feedback on teaching programs and student learning outcomes
- negotiate, schedule, plan for and participate in teaching observations and team teaching and feedback discussions
- communicate regularly with other induction team members with the intent of supporting the individual needs of beginning teachers and improving their practice.
A mentor/ coach helps beginning teachers refine and develop their teaching practice so they can gain accreditation at the proficient career stage.
In the context of school-based induction processes, the role of the mentor/ coach goes beyond the role of a buddy who lends an empathetic ear and offers a kind and supportive word.
An essential element of mentoring/ coaching is to assist teachers as they practice new strategies in their classrooms. An effective mentor/ coach supports beginning teachers to change and develop their practice, so they can be embedded in what the teacher values, and have a direct impact on student learning and classroom instruction.
Watkins acknowledges that while emotional support is important in building trust:
'... to accelerate beginning teacher growth, mentors must do much more. Instructional mentors focus their support on teaching and learning. Mentors must have a clear picture of effective teaching, be able to talk about best pedagogical practice and content, balance beginning teachers? immediate concerns and long term growth, and collaboratively build inquiry and reflection as a part of best practice.' (Watkins)
'Mentoring/ coaching promotes teacher independence in working, planning, analysing and creating great lessons. Support must be readily available until the strategies become a part of teacher's daily work lives and embedded in instruction.' (Darling-Hammond & Sykes, Fullan, Fullan & Hargreaves).
Also, it is well-recognised that it is the quality of teachers, and the teaching itself, that significantly impacts student outcomes. It is critically important that processes to support beginning teachers to reflect on and develop their teaching practice are initiated early in a teacher's career.
Steckel's research supports the fact that demonstrations and modelling during training sessions are not enough to support teachers to embed new learning and practices in their classrooms. Modelling and demonstrations need to occur in the teacher's classroom with the teacher's students, as a follow-up to professional learning sessions, to have maximum benefits.
Light and heavy mentoring/ coaching
Killion suggests that beyond a few introductory weeks of light mentoring/ coaching, mentors/ coaches must shift to heavy mentoring/ coaching and stay there.
Light mentoring/ coaching occurs when mentors/ coaches:
- are focused more on building and maintaining relationships than on improving teaching and learning
- provide demonstration lessons, share curriculum materials, or facilitate learning without holding an expectation that teachers apply this learning in their classrooms.
Heavy mentoring/ coaching includes curriculum analysis, data analysis, instructional changes, and conversations about beliefs and how they influence practice. Heavy mentoring/ coaching:
- holds all adults responsible for student success
- engages them as members of collaborative learning teams to learn, plan, reflect, analyse, and revise their daily teaching practices based on student learning results.
Effective mentors/ coaches need a range of qualities and attributes and:
- can demonstrate outstanding teaching practice
- are good role models and are respected by colleagues, both personally and professionally
- have knowledge and understanding of current research and developments in teaching practice
- are open, willing and interested in working with others to improve practice and contribute to their professional growth
- are respectful and sensitive to the needs of others, especially beginning teachers.
Knight identifies what he calls 'the big four' of coaching, which are:
- content planning and programming, and syllabus understanding to promote student learning
- instructional practices, and teaching strategies and techniques to promote student learning
- assessment 'for/ as/ of' learning, ongoing assessment and data analysis to inform teaching and promote student learning
- classroom management - management strategies and techniques to promote student learning.
Models of mentoring/ coaching
There are 3 models of mentoring/ coaching that can be implemented:
- individual and group.
Poglinco & Bach examined an educational coaching program made up of both one-on-one coaching support in individual classrooms, and group-focused activities such as staff meetings and study groups where curricular materials were introduced and reviewed. Their research found that of all of the techniques coaches employ, modelling instruction in individual classrooms is most likely to result in modifications in instructional practices.
This finding was in contrast to group activities alone, where they found that many struggle to understand how to use the new materials to change their instructional practices in the classroom.
Due to this, and comprehensive research about effective teacher professional learning, a combination of group and individual mentoring/ coaching models is recommended.
Group mentoring/ coaching activities allows for common areas of need to be explored as a learning community while individual mentoring/ coaching accommodates individual needs to achieve the common purpose.
A combination of individual and group coaching activities can be implemented to support school level induction for beginning teachers. A mentor/ coach will support beginning teachers by:
- observing and providing feedback
- observing and understanding teacher strengths
- modelling effective techniques and strategies
- advising and supporting
- working with teachers to use data effectively
- engaging in problem-solving discussions
- conducting workshops to introduce new strategies
- developing and monitoring improvement plans and goals
- providing useful feedback.
Group coaching can include the entire staff or faculty, or professional learning workshops and meetings where new information and practices regarding content, instructional practices, assessment for learning and classroom management are explained and demonstrated. This can include:
- research, presentation and explanation of the theory behind the new information/ practices
- demonstration, modelling, supported practice of the new information/ practices
- reflection on and discussion regarding the implementation of new information/ practices.
Individual coaching can help to support the implementation of new information/ practices including:
- classroom demonstrating/ modelling
- feedback and reflection.
The NSW Quality teaching model of pedagogy provides a framework against which mentors/ coaches can plan their mentoring/ coaching strategies.
A school-based induction coordinator role is suitable for larger schools where there are several beginning teachers, and their role is to coordinate the induction process within the school.
The induction coordinator acts as a point of contact and oversees the development, implementation and coordination of induction processes for beginning teachers. They may be allocated some of the roles and responsibilities of the principal or the supervisor where appropriate.
Where there are several beginning teachers in a school who may have a range of different supervisors, the induction coordinator acts as the common link between them. Their support can include:
- arranging initial contact and orientation visits for beginning teachers
- introducing them to other staff/ faculty members
- ensuring policies and procedures are up to date and available
- organising appropriate training such as Work Health & Safety, and Child Protection courses and coordinating any professional learning based on common needs
- monitoring induction processes with mentors/ coaches, supervisors and the principal.
A buddy teacher can also form part of the school-based induction team, and act as the go-to person for a beginning teacher's initial questions. This role does not require any specific training or the need to remove the buddy teacher from their classroom duties.
The buddy teacher promotes personal and professional wellbeing and helps to transmit a positive perspective on school culture and teaching. The focus of the buddy teacher's role is largely friendship and personal support rather than professional practice, and as such is different from that of the mentor/ coach.
The buddy may also act as a kind of concierge, directing beginning teachers to the most appropriate induction team member to assist with particular issues, concerns or problems.
A buddy teacher's vital qualities:
- be available and willing to share their knowledge and expertise
- be encouraging and optimistic
- be able to communicate and demonstrate good relationships with and care for students
- be passionate about improving student outcomes
- show a commitment to lifelong learning
- demonstrate a sound understanding of the school's values and goals.
Buddy support can also offer specific information and support on:
- who's who within the school staff and where they are located
- staffroom procedures - pigeon holes, tea/ coffee, rosters
- keys to rooms, first aid, mail, telephone procedures
- class-lists, roll marking
- computer network, internet, intranet access
- library procedures
- canteen arrangements
- equipment location, storage and borrowing arrangements
- daily school organisation, timetables, meeting schedules, playground duty
- student behaviour management processes
- pay-related issues
- emergency evacuation procedures.
The concept of a buddy teacher, as identified here, has been adapted from Education Victoria.
Colleagues within the school setting are a valuable source of knowledge and expertise for beginning teachers. They can help them refine their teaching practice and better understand the school context.
Recent research emphasises the positive impact of professional learning communities where teachers learn from each other and build respect for one another.
Beginning teachers' competence and confidence are greatly enhanced when they are included as an integral part of such communities and work alongside more experienced colleagues to learn and solve problems.
Support from colleagues can be personal, social and professional - and may:
- provide realistic solutions to address practical problems helping beginning teachers to deal with everyday issues
- provide a safety-net where problems and feelings can be discussed without the risk that the beginning teacher's professional competence is being judged
- introduce beginning teachers to the school context, organisation and culture with its written and unwritten values and norms
- work collaboratively with beginning teachers in co-teaching situations where 2 or more teachers have responsibility for certain classes or lessons to help them become part of the school community
- enable the exchange of practical knowledge between beginning and experienced teachers, through demonstrations and modelling by colleagues, as an invaluable source of knowledge about the art of teaching.
Importantly, collegial support for beginning teachers should:
- establish strong, positive and professional relationships for sharing knowledge, understandings and skills
- focus on quality teaching, teacher professionalism and ethical practice
- build a foundation for further professional learning by developing the capacity to self-evaluate and critically reflect on practice
- link beginning teachers, mentors/ coaches, supervisors with networks external to the school, including tertiary institutions and professional associations.
- Barry & King (2001) Beginning Teaching and Beyond, 3rd edition, Social Science Press, Katoomba
- Brock, BL & Grady, ML (2001) From first-year to first-rate: Principals guiding beginning teachers, 2nd edition, Thousand Oaks, Corwin, CA.
- Darling-Hammond, L & Sykes, G editors (1999) Teaching as the learning professional: Handbook of policy and practice, Jossey Bass, San Francisco.
- Fullan, M with Stiegelbauer, S (1991) The new meaning of educational change, 2nd edition, Teachers College Press, New York.
- Fullan, M & Hargreaves, A (1992) ‘Teacher development and educational change’ in Fullan, M & Hargreaves A editors Teacher Development and Educational Change, Falmer, London.
- Killion, Joellen (2008) ‘Are you coaching heavy or light? Teachers Teaching Teachers For a Dynamic Community of Teacher Leaders’, National Staff Development Council, volume 3, no. 8.
- Knight, J (2006) ‘Instructional coaching: Eight factors for realizing better classroom teaching through support, feedback and intensive, individualized professional learning’, The School Administrator, volume 63, no. 4.
- Poglinco, S & Bach, A (2004) ‘The Heart of the Matter: Coaching as a Vehicle for Professional Development’, Phi Delta Kappan, volume 85, no. 5.
- Steckel, B (2009) ‘Fulfilling the Promise of Literacy Coaches in Urban Schools: What Does It Take to Make an Impact?’, The Reading Teacher, volume 63, no. 1.
- Watkins, A (2011) ‘Role of the Principal In Beginning Teacher Induction’ - New Teacher Centre 2013.
- Wong, H 2003 ‘Collaborating with colleagues to improve student learning’, ENC Focus, volume 11/ 06.
- Zeichner, Kenneth M & Gore, Jennifer M 1990 ‘Teacher socialization’ in Houston, W Robert editor Handbook of research on teacher education, Macmillan, New York.
Find professional development courses for mentors and supervisors at Teaching standards in action (TSA) courses.