Column: New teacher induction in District 518WORTHINGTON — Throughout the 2009-2010 school year, 25 southwest Minnesota school districts involved in the Flexible Learning Year (FLY) consortium have been working together to strengthen teacher induction in the area.
By: Tammy Tinko, District 518, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Throughout the 2009-2010 school year, 25 southwest Minnesota school districts involved in the Flexible Learning Year (FLY) consortium have been working together to strengthen teacher induction in the area. Each of the schools involved will move from their current program to a more comprehensive approach. A comprehensive program includes new teacher orientation, workshops and training for beginning educators and mentors, peer observations and a focus on best practices in teaching.
Research shows that a comprehensive teacher induction program increases teacher retention and raises student achievement. Nationally, the teacher turnover rate after the first year of teaching in a district without an induction program is near 40 percent, while districts with a comprehensive teacher induction program are able to cut that percentage in half. This is significant for two reasons — cost and student achievement. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that recruiting, hiring and training costs are equal to approximately 30 percent of the exiting teacher’s salary, making teacher turnover expensive for districts. Studies also show that comprehensive induction programs help improve new teacher practice in a shorter amount of time than those without a comprehensive plan, and effective teachers impact student performance. With the retention of high quality educators, districts not only save money, but they can also increase student achievement.
All 25 FLY school districts are taking steps toward this comprehensive plan for the 2011-12 school year. Each district has designated an Induction Coordinator. Throughout the 2009-2-10 school year, these coordinators have been training, planning and networking. While each district’s plan will be tailored to suit their needs, each will include the components mentioned above. In addition, the consortium districts will share staff and resources to support each other through intra-district mentoring. For instance, if a school district hires a teacher for High School Ag and they do not have another High School Ag teacher to mentor the new teacher, they will be able to use the intra-district system to connect the new teacher with a High School Ag teacher from a surrounding district. Plans are also underway to create an induction resource library to be housed at the SW/WC Service Coop. Induction Coordinators will be able to borrow materials to promote their program and support their workshops and trainings. In addition, some smaller districts with fewer new hires will be working collaboratively to offer mentor and new teacher trainings and orientations.
The consortium will be evaluating the effectiveness of these programs over the next three school years through participant surveys and teacher retention data. This information will be part of the report sent to the Minnesota Department of Education as designated in the Flexible Learning Year application.
Tammy Timko is District 518’s coordinator of teaching and learning.