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" New Teacher Induction"

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Finally, on the fourth day of the induction process, the new teachers undergo intensive training in classroom management skills.

"Classroom management is not just a professional reflection of a teacher, but a personal reflection," Ms. Heintz contends. "We explore disciplining with dignity, how to discipline a child without robbing them of their dignity. We spend a great deal of time with procedures and routines; we use the Harry Wong video series, The Effective Teacher."

Flowing Wells further enlists master teachers to set up "demonstration classrooms" in the elementary, junior high and high schools, simulating how the new teachers’ rooms should be arranged for the first day of school.

Finally, the first-year teachers are released to their own classrooms to begin preparing for the first days of school.

Of course, the induction of new teachers in Flowing Wells doesn’t end with the four days of training before school. A series of follow-up seminars are planned, usually in October, November, January, and March.

"We really go into a lot of depth in instruction in the follow-up sessions," Ms. Heintz explains. "On those days, the focus is on deepening and strengthening the instructional practices. We try to seek out the areas where our new teachers might need some special help. It’s really a means of support for our new teachers."

For example, the November seminar usually serves as a "re-charge" day, full of encouragement and esteem-building for the new teacher. "One of my teachers said it’s kind of like coming to a spa. You get to relax a little bit and get rejuvenated again," Ms. Heintz recalls with a chuckle.

The seventh and final seminar each spring includes a dinner for the new teachers and the presentation of framed certificates.

In addition to the organized workshops, each new teacher spends his or her first year under the watchful eye of Ms. Heintz, who serves as mentor to all the first-year teachers and provides each with five classroom observations. Ms. Heintz stresses that "the observations are not about being fixed; they’re about growing professionally."

The Institute for Teacher Renewal and Growth is merely the first phase of an ongoing, comprehensive staff development program for Flowing Wells educators. In their second year in Flowing Wells, teachers are mentored by instructional coordinators, master teachers with specialized training in all aspects of instruction. Each master teacher is paid a $2,000 stipend and given release time as incentives to provide committed mentoring.

"You have to organize a structured follow-up," Ms. Heintz explains. "It starts imbedding the vocabulary, the routines into a district’s culture. If training simply ends with a workshop, it ends. You have to follow up."

Then, in the third through fifth years of a teacher’s professional career, Flowing Wells provides even more advanced training in instructional strategies, cooperative learning, and reinforcing fundamentals. Beyond that, "proficient" and "expert" educators explore higher order thinking skills, multiple intelligences, clinical supervision, cognitive coaching, and writing curriculum, among other topics.

"Ours is a career-long program," Ms. Heintz explains. "It starts with new teacher induction, which is one year. Then, throughout our entire staff development program, we have something for all levels of teaching.

"In Flowing Wells, induction is only the opening chapter of a life-long learning process. We try to create—and continue creating—the best teachers possible."

Neighbors
A two-hour drive north on Interstate 10 from Flowing Wells, through the heart of Arizona, leads to another school district with a dramatically different social landscape but a similar commitment to training new teachers.

Located adjacent to and southeast of Phoenix, Mesa Public Schools is an ever-expanding model of cultural diversity. The district’s population has swollen to more than 350,000. Its 69 schools serve about 72,000 students from every walk of life -- from communities with 100 percent free and reduced lunch eligibility to gated communities where million-dollar homes are the rule.

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