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" New Teacher Induction"

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Additional demonstration classes also meet throughout the year, which mentors and new teachers are encouraged to attend together. According to Dr. Fiandach, "We want the mentor and the mentee to have a focus for their dialogue. We want them to do meaningful things together."

Teachers who are hired after the scheduled induction must attend a four-hour Saturday training focused on routines and procedures.

Like its counterpart in Flowing Wells, the Mesa Public Schools system provides for staff development opportunities for new teachers beyond their first year.

Year Two of the Career Ladder Program centers on instructional strategies. Teachers must complete an additional 16 hours of training in instructional strategies, plus another four hours of training in writing an instructional unit. These teachers then write a 10-lesson unit and submit it for evaluation. They also submit for additional evaluation their analysis of how they implemented the unit with their students.

"Then, in the third year, we give them a breather," Dr. Fiandach explains. "If they’re having trouble, they are required to take another instructional strategies class and work a little more closely with someone. If they are not having problems, and the principal feels like things are going well, then there are no additional professional growth requirements that year."

Award-Winning Commitment
Almost a full continent away, in the rolling hills of Gaston County, North Carolina, the induction programs for new teachers are ever-changing, like the leaves on the stately oaks that pepper the landscape.

Just 20 miles west of Charlotte, Gaston County has become the sixth largest school district in North Carolina. The district employs more than 1,800 teachers and serves approximately 30,000 students in 53 schools.

The Gaston County induction program began six years ago with 80 first-year teachers. It has grown to more than 150 new teachers served in 1996-97 and is expected to exceed 200 in 1997-98. Each year, according to Staff Development Coordinator Linda Rader, the program draws from a variety of influences and is tailor-made to the needs of the new teachers.

"It is still basically a 5-day, pre-school workshop, but we are constantly changing our program every year to suit what we think our specific group is going to need," Ms. Rader explains. Classroom management and instructional strategies, of course, dominate the curriculum for new teachers.

For example, in 1997, the District has responded to a change to block scheduling in the area high schools, which required teachers to report earlier than usual, in late July.

"Of course, we didn’t have as many people hired at that time as we wanted," Ms. Rader explains. Thus, the induction program was presented once in July for those teachers who were already on staff, then repeated in early fall for teachers hired after mid-July. The latter training took the form of afternoon sessions and the occasional Saturday.

"Once a teacher has started the school year, you have to take a little bit different tactic," Ms. Rader says. "You don’t talk quite so much about the first day of school, as you do about classroom techniques. We have a chance to critique some of the things they’ve done so far in the school year."

Also, for the first time in 1997, Gaston County incorporated model classrooms into its induction program. The district selected one teacher at each grade level and paid that teacher to set up a model classroom for new teachers.

"That worked like a jewel," Ms. Rader reports. "The new teachers talked with the model classroom teachers a while, asked all the questions they wanted.

In addition to the induction week at the outset of the year, Ms. Rader meets with the newly-licensed teachers on the second Saturday of each month. "We discuss different topics," she says. "Our first meeting of this year was on conferencing skills, because we have a system-wide parent conference day in October. Then, we move on to discussing the testing programs or whatever first-time experiences loom on the horizon for new teachers."

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