Backgrounder: College Calls for Induction Programs for New Teachers
February 07 2003
A Range of Induction Programs
Many jurisdictions, including school boards in Ontario, have formal induction
programs for new teachers. The programs described here demonstrate a variety
Despite their structural and funding differences, these programs share essential
elements - in all, experienced and trained peers provide school and classroom-centred
Creating a Culture of Mentoring
Ottawa Carleton District School Board
The Ottawa Carleton District School Board is one example of a board operating
a modestly funded initiative (about $300 per new teacher), a voluntary program
that focuses on the need to support and retain teachers new to the board.
The board surveyed new teachers and set up a mentoring program within their
induction program. The program goals are to reduce stress for first-year teachers
while honouring the strengths and experience of mentors, to foster a collaborative
culture of mentoring, and to retain teachers. All three goals focus on the
ultimate benefits for students.
Unique features of the program include the role of mentor leader with its
responsibilities and rewards and school autonomy in developing its own program.
A board-wide survey indicated that new teachers find most valuable the support
they receive from mentors and colleagues at the school, the varied opportunities
for professional growth, and release time for activities designed to help them
meet student needs. Principals report that although time is a major issue,
teacher efficacy has been enhanced and creating leadership roles and demonstrating
commitment to new staff has had a positive impact on the schools.
Each principal identifies a mentor leader in the school. This leader receives
training in selecting on-site mentors and facilitating mentor learning at the
school level. A resource binder, which complements the training, includes practical
strategies such as charts outlining the developmental phases of the first year
of teaching with related activities. The leader coordinates mentoring activities
in the school, arranges a mentor for each new teacher and, with the principal,
disburses the school’s mentoring funds.
The mentoring role is supportive rather than evaluative, and administrators
are discouraged from taking on mentor roles.
The program is built on a school-based approach to professional development
founded on the assumption that a teacher's growth is developmental and influenced
by the context of the workplace.
Each school arranges training for its mentors and designs a program responsive
to school needs. The school submits a funding proposal that outlines the anticipated
In-school activities may include September orientation, workshops on report
cards, shadowing an experienced teacher, classroom observations, ongoing feedback,
breakfast meetings with mentors or other new teachers, informal discussions
with colleagues, shared planning, goal setting and social activities.
System-sponsored workshops for mentors and new teachers, training activities
and a website mentoring conference for all program participants support the
in-school activities. All new teachers and their mentors attend central workshops
on The Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession and What does it Mean
to be a Teacher? They are encouraged to use the standards as a catalyst for
discussion of teaching knowledge and practice.
Action research as program assessment is also encouraged in individual schools.
In one instance, two lead teachers assumed responsibility for creating and
researching a mentoring induction program in their school just as the board’s
initiative began. Their aim was to have teachers experience a formal yet growth-oriented
introduction to the school’s mission, values, culture, policies, procedures
and working conditions through on-site mentoring aimed at the professional
growth of both mentor and new teacher. The conclusions identified a strong
need for a formal on-site mentoring program, pointing out the benefits in professional
growth and recognition of that growth for both mentor and new teacher. Their
research also found that the mentoring program facilitated collaborative staff
Mentoring long-distance style
Keewatin-Patricia District School Board
For the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board in Northwestern Ontario, geographic
distance is a dominant factor in the organization of its innovative, well-funded
induction program. The board, in collaboration with the Ontario College of
Teachers, designed its program in 2000 to recruit and retain teachers. A brochure
describes the goals as enhancing teaching practice and student learning as
well as extending opportunities for collegial sharing and reflective practice
based on an ethic of continuous learning.
The Keewatin-Patricia mentoring program is based on an initial system of central
support and organization, moving to individual mentor-partner independence.
It starts from the belief that school-based support and local program autonomy
are crucial factors for new teachers’ growth and development. The Standards
of Practice for the Teaching Profession provide the conceptual framework, creating
a catalyst for discussion for the new teacher and a mentor and acting as a
neutral reference. The underlying assumption of the program is that the best
person to teach a new teacher is a supportive teacher trained in this professional
During the summer, potential mentors, who are always volunteers, receive two
or three days of training. They learn a range of communication strategies for
effective mentoring, ways to accommodate adult learning styles and strategies
for balancing pressure and support to help novice teachers improve their instructional
Mentors and new teachers attend one or two days of orientation in late August,
where they investigate their own styles and learn about others. The new teachers
select their own mentors. Mentors and new teachers are not always in the same
school, or the same municipality. Nor do they always share the same subject
background. The partnership model is flexible.
Each team decides when, where and how they will use their 15 days of teacher-release
time. The mentor partnership also decides how to use the additional $250 available
for professional development opportunities for novice teachers.
E-mail is the primary means of communication. Conference calls and videoconferences
are also being explored. The program is supportive rather than evaluative with
an emphasis on trust, assistance and partnership. The mentoring focuses on
teaching practice and student learning as well as forming strong supportive
relationships with colleagues.
Board organizers believe that once they have a cadre of skilled mentors who
feel supported and valued in their work, central involvement can cease. Mentors
are then trusted to manage the process to fit the needs of the new teacher.
In the review of the first year, the mentors saw the rewards of mentoring
as intrinsic, citing satisfaction about helping, anticipated feedback from
the new teacher and "giving back to the profession" as important
considerations. They did not want to be described as master teachers because
of peer reaction. What they would value as a reward is a respect for the personal
time they had put into the mentoring task. Most of the mentor pairs developed
mutually beneficial relationships, despite the challenges of time and distance.
Mentors felt validated by the fact that "they were actually given time
to do the induction program."
Participants saw the Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession as
a positive catalyst to foster professionalism in both new and experienced teachers,
helping them to talk about teaching practice, to develop a common language
to engage in that conversation, and to create a shared space for mentoring
Testing mentoring strategies
Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario
The Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario is completing
a pilot for a mentoring program for beginning teachers.
The project involved 13 mentors and 13 new teachers from both the elementary
and secondary levels. The new teachers selected their own mentors, prefering
one who is highly respected as a professional teacher but not necessarily in
the same subject area or division.
So far, the teachers participating in the pilot have identified four priorities
for new teachers: curriculum planning, classroom management, student evaluation
and special education, which includes modifying programs to meet special needs
and completing education improvement plans. The board will base the first year
of its program on these four areas.
Participants also identified the most effective mentoring strategies: observing
colleagues, attending conferences with other new teachers on topics not necessarily
directly related to the classroom, for example, leadership, and attending professional
development opporutnities with their mentor. Participants have found that these
activities promote ongoing professional conversations that foster a culture
Mentors in the project identified coaching as the key to training new mentors.
The findings and experiences of the new teachers and the mentors who took
part in the pilot will help determine the outline of the board’s two-year induction
Formal recognition for new teachers
London District Catholic School Board
A mass and commissioning service in May provides formal recognition as new
teachers complete this board’s orientation program.
Teachers new to the London District Catholic School Board attend two days
of orientation before they enter the classroom. At the first session, as soon
as they are hired, they learn all about the board. In August, usually the second
last week before school, they attend another session where they receive an
orientation binder and spend the day reviewing its contents. This includes
information on the mentoring program, classroom management, planning, curriculum
services, technology, professional development opportunities and board policies
and procedures. The binder also includes copies of the Standards of Practice
and the Ethical Standards.
The mentoring program aims to assist new teachers in the vocation of Catholic
education, provide effective professional development and training for new
teachers and their mentors and to create within that framework opportunities
for socialization and developing mentoring relationships. The school principal
assigns mentors to the new teachers.
During the first term, new teachers attend two curriculum workshops and one
social. In the second term there are two or three curriculum workshops. In
May the new teachers attend a commissioning service. Each teacher receives
a Bible that includes an inscription from the Director of Education.
Evaluations of the program find that the new teachers appreciate the support.
Mentors appreciate the "growth experience" and call it a shared learning
experience. Many feel rejuvenated by the energy, initiative and the questions
of the new teachers.
Ministry, university, teachers develop provincial program
In 1993, the provincial Department of Education, the New Brunswick Teachers’
Association and the University of New Brunswick began a collaboration to prepare
for the projected large number of new teachers entering the profession. The
Beginning Teachers’ Induction Program (BTIP) started formally in 1995. Cooperation
among the organizations continues to drive and support this induction program.
The program's goals are to improve teaching performance, increase the retention
of beginning teachers and promote their personal and professional well-being.
BTIP attempts to prepare the beginner for the complexities and stresses of
teaching and help mentors with their professional development and coping strategies.
The mentor provides support in a variety of ways. These include information
on the system, access to resources, and institutional and emotional backing.
The mentor also acts as a model for effective classroom skills.
BTIP is not related to certification or formal assessment practices. Funding,
$800 per mentor-beginner team, comes through grants from the Department of
Education and the Teachers’ Association.
Mentors are selected and matched with beginning teachers, whether a first-year
teacher or an experienced teacher new to the school board, in the same school
or district through a process that involves the district supervisors and principals.
Beginning teachers attend summer institutes and then participate in workshops
until the end of their first year. They also get a provincial handbook.
Mentors must complete a provincial training course to inform them of the expectations
of BTIP and to learn skills to facilitate their mentoring role. Throughout
the year mentors also attend district workshops ranging from formal information
or training sessions to informal meetings in which they share mentoring experiences
In all the surveys done, mentors report personal growth in terms of motivation
and satisfaction as well as professional growth, in terms of reflective practice,
collaboration with colleagues, new ideas from beginners and access to resources.
A partnership using teacher advisors
Santa Cruz, California
The University of California's Santa Cruz New Teacher Project began in 1988
as a collaborative effort among the University of California at Santa Cruz,
the Santa Cruz County Office of Education and 16 school districts.
New teachers participate in this two-year program of intense support that
focuses on improving classroom practice. The program's purpose is to develop
reflective teachers who are responsive to the diverse cultural, linguistic
and social backgrounds of all students and who embody norms of ongoing inquiry,
assessment and refinement of practice.
The program aligns itself with the California Standards for the Teaching Profession.
Five levels of development (beginning, emerging, applying, integrating and
innovating) are used as entry points for developing individual learning plans
for each new teacher.
The program receives $3,000 per new teacher from the California Department
of Education and the California Commission on Credentialing and $2,100 per
new teacher from local districts. The university and the county office of education
cover administrative costs. A consortium led by university faculty and comprised
of mentor teachers, new teachers, union representatives, superintendents, principals,
staff developers and community members determine program philosophy, implementation
and ongoing evaluation.
The program uses exemplary teacher advisors, who are on loan from their school
districts for three years. Matched with beginning teachers according to grade
level and subject expertise, an advisor works with 12 to 14 new teachers, meeting
with them weekly. In the classroom the advisor observes, coaches, co-teaches,
demonstrates, responds to journals and assists with emergent problems. Out-of-classroom
time is spent gathering resources, facilitating communication with principals
and organizing a monthly seminar series based on case studies.
Knowing the classroom and the students, the mentor advisor is able to build
strong relationships and provide each teacher with specific support. Using
peer-coaching strategies, the advisor and new teacher collect and analyze classroom
data, relating student outcomes to teaching practices.
With guidance from their advisor, new teachers prepare a professional portfolio
documenting their growth and development. They present the portfolios to colleagues
at a spring colloquium. The new teacher has four release days to be used for
reflection, self-assessment, observations, curriculum planning and staff development.
Advisor training takes place in summer seminars and involves topics such as
how to mentor a new teacher, building relationships, phases of the first year
of teaching, selecting support strategies, peer-coaching feedback strategies,
adult learning principles and assessing teaching in relation to student achievement.
Mentors engage in 60 hours of this focused professional development, using
a train-the-trainer approach.