Teacher induction- is orientation enough?

Published
19 January 2017

No two teacher induction programs are exactly alike. It is obvious that any teacher induction program should be specifically developed to cater for the cultural needs of the school and should also be tailored to meet the needs of the new teacher.

According to Breaux and Wong, several common components underlie the most successful teacher induction programs. These components include:

  • an initial few days of training before school begins;
  • ongoing, systematic training over the course of two or three years;
  • strong administrative participation in, and support of, the overall induction process;
  • a mentoring component;
  • study groups in which new teachers network and support one another;
  • a structure for modelling effective teaching during in-services and mentoring; and
  • numerous opportunities for inductees to visit demonstration classrooms taught by successful veteran teachers.

Breaux created a Framework for Inducting, Retaining and Supporting Teachers (FIRST), in order to stem the defection of young, effective teachers. The program reduced the school system's teacher attrition rate by 80 percent.

It is patently clear that a two-day orientation is not an induction. It is a component of induction.

However, in many Australian schools, the terms 'orientation' and 'induction' are often used in place of each other. Regardless, the initial interview, first meetings and the one or two-day orientation program should still represent the commencement of a more thorough induction process. Most schools begin new teacher induction programs with orientation days at the commencement of the school year or occasionally at the commencement of each semester. A formal orientation program should take place whenever there is the appointment of new teaching staff, or any staff for that matter.

Induction is being recognised as an important component of teacher development and it is noted in registration requirements in some states and territories. For example, in WA, the Department of Education Services in their 2017 Registration Guide point out that:

The staff induction, performance management and professional learning policies and procedures must stipulate that all new staff will receive an induction which is effective in maintaining both continuity of the learning environment and duty of care for students. There must be clear links between performance management, professional learning and student learning.

The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) allow up to two years for a neophyte teacher to progress from Graduate to Proficient standard. It should be noted that the focus of new teacher induction is far more than just a day or two of orientation.

In July, 2016, AITSL, developed a national induction program for new teachers.  It is understood that graduate teachers understand curriculum content and programming, delivery and student assessment. They also understand strategies for inclusion of children with special needs, the principles of inclusivity and they have an ability to differentiate their pedagogy to better meet the learning needs of students with a wide array of abilities.

The Graduate Teacher Standards have been adopted as part of accreditation of initial teacher education programs across the country. It is the role of tertiary institutions to provide opportunities for pre-service teachers to attain the Graduate Standards by the time they complete their studies and achieve their teaching qualification. The Graduate Teacher Standards can be found here.

However, it is the role of the school that employs the teacher to provide opportunities for the teacher to move from Graduate Standard to Proficient Standard over a specified time frame. To achieve full registration, teachers are required to demonstrate achievement of the seven Standards at the Proficient career stage of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

The process for demonstrating this varies between jurisdictions:

Each process requires teachers to use evidence to both demonstrate, and reflect on, their practice against each of the focus areas at the Proficient career stage of the Standards. The Proficient Teacher Standards can be found here.

AITSL has also developed a range of support materials to support implementation of the Standards. These support materials can be accessed via the AITSL website. In addition, there are materials available from each state or territory teacher regulator and from state and territory associations as well.  The Proficient Standards are used as a basis for nationally consistent registration and renewal of registration.

When schools re-commence in late January, will your school hold an orientation program and leave it at that or will there be a formal induction program developed for new teachers that is designed to cater to their needs as well as the school requirements? What are the risks associated with not having an on-going and tailored induction process for your new teachers?

 

Craig D’cruz

With 37 years of educational experience, Craig D’cruz is the National Education Lead at CompliSpace. Craig provides direction on education matters including new products, program/module content and training. Previously Craig held the roles of Industrial Officer at the Association of Independent Schools of WA, he was the Principal of a K-12 non-government school, Deputy Principal of a systemic non-government school and he has had teaching and leadership experience in both the independent and Catholic school sectors. Craig currently sits on the board of a large non-government school and is a regular presenter on behalf of CompliSpace and other educational bodies on issues relating to school governance, school culture and leadership.