District Induction Policy and New Teachers’ Experiences: An Examination of Local Policy Implementation in Connecticut
by Peter Youngs — 2007
Studies of new teacher induction have typically examined the structural components of mentoring programs or documented the nature of support provided to beginning teachers. More recently, Susan Moore Johnson and her colleagues examined new teachers’ induction experiences across multiple states and preparation routes. In addition, Thomas Smith and Richard Ingersoll used the 1999–2000 Schools and Staffing Survey to investigate the experiences and retention rates of beginning teachers who received different levels of induction support. Despite these advances, there is little understanding in the research literature of the relationship between district induction policy and the nature and quality of the support experienced by beginning teachers.
Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study:
One purpose of the study was to explore whether variations in district policy seemed to be associated with differences in the nature and quality of instructional assistance experienced by first- and second-year teachers. A second purpose was to investigate how the understandings of induction held by mentors, principals, and other educators seemed to mediate the effects of district policy on new teachers’ experiences.
The research design involved qualitative case studies during 2000–2001 of two urban high-poverty Connecticut districts, Copley and Ashton. Copley and Ashton served similar percentages of students eligible for free and reduced lunch (58.0% and 54.3%, respectively) and had similar policies with regard to mentor training and work conditions. The two districts differed with regard to district policy related to mentor selection and assignment, district policy related to professional development for second-year teachers, and district size (10,216 students and 3,361 students).
The study found that beginning teachers in Copley experienced higher quality assistance than their counterparts in Ashton with regard to acquiring curricular knowledge, planning instruction, and reflecting on practice. These differences seemed related to district policy involving mentor selection, mentor assignment, and professional development. In addition, the understandings of induction held by mentors and others seemed to mediate the effects of district policy on new teachers’ experiences.
Study findings suggest that future research should examine whether there are grade-level and content-area matches between mentors and mentees and how mentors’ and other educators’ knowledge and skills influence beginning teachers’ induction experiences. In addition, scholars should consider how educators’ understandings of induction interact with school and district policies and organizational conditions to shape their work with beginning teachers. Finally, researchers should conceptualize induction as involving multiple individuals in the provision of support for beginning teachers.
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