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" New Teacher Induction"

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Approximately 35 to 40 teachers participate annually in the first-year program, and about the same number in the 2nd year. And that number continues to grow.

"I think the most important thing is that, when a district is considering making a change, that it make the change systematically," Ms. McCollum advises. "It must become an integral part of the culture of the organization. We really expect teachers to use effective classroom management and instructional skills. We train them, and we have the expectation that they will use the training in the classroom."

Combining ‘The Best of the Best’
Nestled about 60 miles southwest of New Orleans on the Gulf of Mexico, the Lafourche Parish School System also has developed a "best of the best" program, according to Curriculum Coordinator Annette Breaux.

"My advice to anyone planning an induction program: don’t just jump right in there," Ms. Breaux says. "Research induction first, and understand that there is a lot of planning involved. We found out what the best districts around the country were doing, and we decided to build on that."

In developing induction activities for new teachers in its 30 schools, Lafourche Parish planned four "highly-structured" days of training in classroom management, discipline, district policies, procedures, instructional planning, and accommodating individual differences, among other topics.

Three curriculum coordinators model effective teaching. "We become the teachers, and the new hires become the students," Ms. Breaux explains. "We set up a demonstration classroom environment, so we don’t ask them to do anything that we don’t model for them."

Each teacher is provided a copy of The First Days of School and a 1 and 1/2-inch binder. The binder contains the following:

  • mission statements for the district and schools;
  • staff and faculty rosters for each school;
  • each school’s daily schedule and duty schedule;
  • a section of articles on classroom discipline;
  • checklists of items that must be in place before the first day of classes;
  • places to record information on individual students;
  • interest inventories for students;
  • tips for parent communication and parent-teacher relations;
  • classroom management tips; and
  • a success journal for teachers’ daily experiences in the classroom.

An awards ceremony is hosted on the fourth day of induction week, along with a social gathering where new teachers meet mentor teachers, principals, School Board members and administrative staff. Teachers then visit actual model classrooms and receive tips and advice from veteran teachers.

Lafourche Parish also has established one Mentor Contact Teacher at each school site, who oversees the activities of all mentors in each school. Ms. Breaux tries to place mentor teachers in rooms as close to new teachers as possible.

Mentors then conduct one observation per nine weeks and an informal evaluation; develop an Individual Improvement Plan with the new teacher; and lead the new teachers in conducting self-evaluations at the end of each nine weeks.

One unique aspect of Lafourche Parish is that it hires new teachers twice during each year: in August and in January. For new teachers hired in January, the district stages a second two-day induction program, packing four days of information into half the time.

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