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" New Teacher Induction"

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"The key is collaboration. The more collaboration you have in planning the program, the more successful it will be. More people buy into it. For the new teacher, the main thing that I have to say is that upon completion of the TIP week, participants know that we are excited about having them and we want them to share our expectations for success."

Teamwork Along the Lake
Like its sister programs in Georgia and North Carolina, the induction program in the Great Lakes community of Port Huron, Michigan, can trace its roots to Arizona.

New teacher induction in this border town, nestled alongside the shores of Lake Huron, just a stone’s throw from the Canadian border, began in the fall of 1991. The local superintendent for this district of 12,000 students returned from a regional conference, excited about the concept of training new teachers for their first days in the classroom. He foresaw that a great many older teachers in his district would be retiring within five years, and the district would be forced to fill those vacancies with inexperienced teachers.

Enter Cathy Lozen, a veteran classroom teacher who had just made the move into administration. One of her first assignments was the challenge of bringing new teacher induction to Port Huron.

"Our superintendent believed if we could get a program up and running at that time, we would be in a very good position to effectively deal with a flood of new people coming in, new hires, down the road," Ms. Lozen recalls.

Embracing her assignment, Ms. Lozen traveled to Arizona and studied the Flowing Wells induction model. The visit out West would solidify her purpose.

"I loved the spirit, the buy-in from the staff, the climate that was there in Flowing Wells," Ms. Lozen remembers. "Everybody in town was aware of the program. Everybody believed in it, and they participated to one degree or another. That was what I tried to create when I came back here."

Upon her return to Michigan, Ms. Lozen reviewed the research on new teacher induction, and then reflected on her own experiences as a classroom teacher. "It was almost like walking in my shoes again, looking back at my classroom career, thinking what I might have wanted to happen differently. And that was how I planned the program," she says.

"One of the problems with staff development is that it has always been hit-and-run, a one-shot deal that’s supposed to fix everything. We know that is not effective," Ms. Lozen continues. "We wanted it to be a sustained program. We felt we needed to keep new teachers close to us for a year, nurture them and take them step-by-step through the year. Then, they’d have a real solid foundation about the district, about teaching, about our expectations."

The basic components of the four-day orientation are familiar:

  • On Day 1, new teachers enjoy a welcome breakfast with balloons, flowers and gifts. The agenda is mostly a get-acquainted day with key staff members. A resource notebook is provided for each teacher.
  • The district hosts a bus tour for the new teachers with a stop at one of the middle schools and tours of three demonstration classrooms.
  • On Day 2, the district serves a heavy dose of Harry Wong. Teachers receive The First Days of School and instruction on classroom management and the importance of classroom procedures, rules, and routines.
  • On Day 3, trainers conduct a more detailed review of the staff members met on the first day, then lead a "hot topics" discussion of some issues the teachers might encounter in the local schools.
  • On Day 4, new teachers visit demonstration classrooms, with selected teachers on the grade level and subject areas sharing their reasoning for certain classroom arrangements.

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