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Tool: Assessing your school's culture and its capacity for induction - Part I

Questions: What are beginning teachers learning in your school?  In what ways does our school culture promote or inhibit the professional growth and commitment of new teachers?

Purpose of this tool: This tool will help you assess your school’s culture and identify challenges to address in order to create a strong induction program. Beginning teacher learning and commitment are influenced by the messages about students, parents, teaching and learning that novices receive in interactions with principals and experienced teachers.

How to use this tool: Principals and experienced teachers can use this tool to reflect on their school’s culture, their role in creating and sustaining this culture and their school’s capacity to provide strong induction support for beginning teachers. After reading the research summary on the relationship between school culture and induction, work with your colleagues to complete the School culture and induction assessment.

Part I. School culture and induction: What the research says

 Research shows that new teachers benefit from and stay teaching in schools that:

  • Offer new teachers novice status
  • Provide new teachers curricular guidance and resources
  • Create school-wide conditions that support student learning, and
  • Create a supportive professional culture.

These schools take the learning needs of beginning teachers seriously. They do not assign them the most challenging classes to teach. Some even reduce new teachers’ course loads to provide them time to plan, to observe and to work with veteran teachers. 

Teachers and administrators in these schools do strike a balance between respect and support. They expect beginning teachers to have difficulties and encourage them to seek assistance. At the same time, they expect that new teachers will learn from their mistakes in ways that will benefit students. 

In order to ensure that this happens, these schools provide beginning teachers:

  • structured, on-site professional development that involves new and experienced teachers,
  • both formal and informal interactions with principals and veteran teachers focused on teaching and learning
  • the opportunities to prioritize their professional learning, observe expert teaching and work collaboratively on problems of practice with colleagues across experience levels.

In summary, these schools demonstrate integrated professional cultures. For a more detailed summary of research by Susan Moore Johnson and colleagues (2004) on integrated professional cultures, other school cultures and their implications for new teachers, see Research summary.

Part II.  School Culture & Induction Assessment Tool

Drawing on the research summary in Part I, work with colleagues to complete the School culture and induction assessment tool. The purpose of this tool is to help you establish and maintain an integrated culture in your school that will promote the professional growth of both new and experienced teachers.

School culture and induction assessment

References

Moore Johnson, S., & Kardos, S. (2002). Keeping new teachers in mind. Educational Leadership,  12-16.

Birkeland, S., & Moore Johnson, S. (2002). What keeps new teachers in the swim? Journal of Staff Development, 18 –21.

Ingersoll, R., & Kralik, J. (2004). The impact of mentoring on teacher retention: What the research says. Denver, CO: Education Commission of the States.

Lee, V., & Smith. J.  (1994).  High school restructuring and student achievement. Issue Report No. 7.  Madison, WI: Center on Organization and Restructuring of Schools.