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" New Teacher Induction"

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In November and February, the District hosts a program called Teachers Teaching Teachers. The new teachers are divided into grade levels and visit different classrooms, asking questions of veteran teachers, observing the design of the classrooms, and exploring other aspects of classroom management.

Among the other constants in the Gaston County induction program:

  • Teachers are given copies of the book, The First Days of School, by Harry Wong, as well as a notebook of other resources for new hires.
  • Teachers are provided a comprehensive introduction to Gaston County, including members of the Chamber of Commerce who talk with teachers.

During each of its six years in existence, the Gaston County induction program has been funded in part by grant monies from the state of North Carolina. The first grants were awarded on the strength of a program entitled "Two Wongs Make A Right," based on the writings of Drs. Harry and Rosemary Wong.

When grant monies are available, the district pays new teachers their regular daily salary rate to attend induction programs. Otherwise, teachers receive $50 per day and $25 per three-hour Saturday session they attend.

The master teachers who work in training with the program also receive the same compensation. "We really have some good people here, and they participate basically for their own self-edification and the experience, to enhance their skills," Ms. Rader explains.

Another unique by-product of Gaston County’s successful grant writing was a five-minute video on their teacher induction program. The simple but effective video combined snapshots, music and the editing skills of a local teacher’s son, who worked for a cable television production company. The video was presented at a national conference in Florida.

Gaston County’s induction program also has been featured in Video Journal, a monthly video series for educators.

Though the state of North Carolina has had legislation for a couple of years requiring new teachers to have mentors, the state had set no criteria and offered no incentives for mentors. However, this year, the state General Assembly provided for $100 per month for mentors.

"So, with that, the mentoring program is improving, and we are making plans to have quarterly meetings with the mentors to discuss their roles," Ms. Rader reports.

For its innovation over the years, the Gaston County induction program was honored with the 1995 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education.

That—along with the impact the program has had on several hundred new teachers—is inspiration for Linda Rader to keep her induction program evolving.

"New teachers always seem to get the hopeless tasks and the worst of everything," she notes. "And that’s exactly what research says they shouldn’t have. They shouldn’t be the floaters, and they shouldn’t be given more than one extracurricular activity. If we take state money for induction, we have to guard against those sorts of things.

"Our goal is to make the best teachers we can make. I think we’re doing a pretty good job."

Building Leaders
Just a few hours’ drive from Gaston County, in the central Georgia community of McDonough, an unexpected result of the new teacher induction program has been the personal and professional growth not just among its target audience—the first-year teachers—but among those conducting the training.

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