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Working together

by Dorothea Anagnostopoulos

Teaching is complex, subtle, and difficult work. Good teacher preparation programs can provide new teachers with much useful knowledge and can prepare them to learn from their subsequent experience, but the extensive local knowledge and well-formed habits needed to teach well in a given place are formed best in years of deliberate, supported practice.

The current sink-or-swim tradition for new teachers does not support practice; rather, it imposes high costs of several kinds, including loss of learning opportunities for pupils and loss of promising teachers who leave before taking hold--or because they could not take hold in sink-or-swim conditions.

There is an alternative: Schools and districts can set up strong induction programs for beginning teachers that feature mentoring, orientation sessions, new teacher seminars, and professional learning communities. The purpose of this tool is to introduce a definition of induction; describe the components, characteristics and benefits of strong induction programs; and provide links to several sites that can help you to plan or revise an induction program in your school or district. 

In addition, beginning teachers, mentor teachers, and principals can form professional learning communities that are centered on their learning together for the benefit of their shared pupils. In Section III you can further explore ways to organize time and resources for teacher learning.

I. What is induction?

A. Components of strong induction programs
B. Characteristics of strong induction programs
C. Benefits of strong induction programs

II. Planning for a strong induction program

A. Assessing your school’s capacity for induction – Part I
B. Assessing your school’s capacity for induction – Part II
C. Michigan's Teacher Induction and Mentoring Standards
D. Michigan's state laws regarding mentoring, induction and professional development for new teachers
E. Examples of district and state induction programs

III. Professional learning communities

A. Organizing time and resources for professional learning
B. Beginning teacher study groups
C. Mentor study groups
D. Learning together