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B. Beginning teachers study groups

While mentoring by experienced teachers is useful, beginning teachers also can benefit from working with each other. Learning communities for beginning teachers can provide new teachers the space to ask questions and to talk about difficult challenges without fear of being judged or evaluated negatively.

At the same time, these groups help teachers make their teaching public, investigate their students’ learning and contribute to their colleagues’ learning. In these ways, such communities can foster the collective responsibility for student learning that research has shown to be critical to student achievement.  Further, beginning teacher study groups can develop beginning teachers’ capacities for teacher leadership.

Given the serious learning demands of the induction years, it is important that beginning teacher study groups draw on the expertise of experienced colleagues and/or people outside the school, such as university professors, district specialists and community leaders as facilitators and consultants. The principal should work with beginning teachers to identify these people and obtain their assistance.

The tools are organized by several key moves, listed at right, needed to create and sustain a professional learning community for beginning teachers.

Key move

1. Starting and sustaining the work

2. Learning from problems of practice

3. Learning from our successes

4. Learning from and with the community