Teacher Recommendations for Ensuring High-Quality Induction for New Teachers

Teacher Recommendations for Ensuring High-Quality Induction for New Teachers

TO:  Kori Hamner, Director of Support and Professional Development

Division of Talent Management, Shelby County Schools

FR:  Teach Plus Memphis Teaching Policy Fellows

RE:  Teacher Recommendations for Ensuring High-Quality Induction for New Teachers

DA:  January 20, 2015


Thank you for asking for teacher feedback as Shelby County Schools works to enhance both the academic rigor and positive culture of its schools, including the recruitment and retention of high quality teachers. Teacher retention remains one of the most persistent and troubling problems facing educational systems today, and Shelby County is no exception. All students deserve capable, passionate educators who can measurably improve student achievement. But the fact remains that too many new teachers are leaving the teaching profession before they gain expertise needed to perfect their craft.

Here is what the research tells us:

  • The transition to one’s first year of full time teaching is incredibly challenging.[i] [ii] [iii]
  • Many new and beginning teachers cite frustration and discouragement, as well as feeling inefficient or receiving inadequate support, as factors in choosing to abandon the profession. [iv] [v]
  • Induction programs and high-quality mentoring programs have been found to enhance teacher effectiveness, improve satisfaction, increase commitment, improve classroom instruction and student achievement, and promote early-career retention of novice teachers.[vi] [vii] [viii] [ix] [x] [xi]
  • Participation in comprehensive induction programs can cut attrition by up to 50%.[xii]

Dynamic, comprehensive, and continued support for Shelby County’s new teachers is integral to the retention of quality educators.  Even the most thorough teacher preparation programs are challenged to fully prepare new teachers for the classroom. Shelby County Schools has numerous challenges specific to the demographic and cultural climate of the region. After consulting our colleagues from across Memphis and Shelby County, we recommend that the following additions and changes to the Shelby County Schools’ induction procedures to prepare new educators for success, and, consequently, improve teacher retention.

Recommendation One: Redefine the role of Learning Coaches to include providing new teachers with support in implementing Shelby County School’s policies and procedures.

Procedures that Shelby County veteran teachers see as routine, such as properly formatting lesson plans, need to be explicitly taught to teachers who are new to the district. New teachers will not have had fieldwork experience in Shelby County or know district expectations and even veteran teachers new to the county will need specific details about the practical routines and requirements of the district. Additionally, although the district relies heavily on a variety of online resources and programs, as well as several site-based offerings, to support teachers in understanding and implementation of SCS and Tennessee policies, procedures, and standards, most new teachers have little instruction on how to access this information. For example, to be effective, all teachers need a strong command of the Tennessee State Standards, Common Core State Standards, TEM model and content-related instructional maps. Currently this information is dispersed through a website, which can be difficult and time consuming for a new teacher to navigate. Learning Coaches should support new teachers in the use of these resources, as well as the district’s digitized communication systems, including the substitute system, employee portal, and professional development links. Additionally, the Teaching and Learning Academy provides many services that could benefit early career educators, but it is not well discussed as part of the induction experience. E-mail, PowerSchool grading system, and attendance logs are components of all SCS teachers’ daily routines, but are also currently not a part of new teacher induction. Familiarity with existing resources allows new teachers to stay ahead of the technological learning curve, and allows them focus on student growth and performance.

Recommendation Two:  Provide Learning Coaches an extra planning period so that they can be an effective support for new teachers.

Although Shelby County schools assign each new teacher a Learning Coach who is an expert on their grade level and/or subject, Learning Coaches, who have their own classrooms and sometimes several other new teachers to coach, can be stretched thin and unable to provide full, individualized support that will help new teachers improve their practice. With an extra planning period, Learning Coaches would be more effective because they could devote the time to observing, collaborating with new teachers, and developing professional tools that might help promote growth without having to sacrifice the time they spend with their own students. They will also have more time to support new teachers in using digital tools and communication systems that the county has made available to teachers to help them manage student progress and communicate with faculty, staff, and parents.

Recommendation Three: Offer teacher-led professional development to new teachers and differentiate those professional development sessions based on new teacher experience levels.

Incorporating teacher-led professional development would provide new teachers with another resource to improve their practice and differentiating that development based on teacher experience would ensure that new teachers are getting the support they need. Currently, although new Shelby County teachers of different experience levels have different needs, there are not new teacher professional development pathways that differentiate between new teacher graduates, career switchers, and veteran teachers entering the Shelby County school district in the district’s New Teacher Orientation Program. The result is some teachers attending professional development that they don’t need, while others are not getting critical development that would make them more effective earlier in their teaching career.

We recommend that all teachers new to Shelby County receive training on some things, such as the online gradebook and attendance system, creating online assessments, and navigating online learning systems. However, we recommend that teachers new to the field have additional development on classroom management, differentiating instruction, challenging exceptional learners while providing remediation with struggling learners, engaging all learners, and promoting parental engagement in addition to professionalism, time management, stress management, and discipline. Teachers also need training to develop computer and information literacy. All new teachers are likely to need explanations of their grade-level Gifted and/or Resource programs, social and mental development norms, and curriculum and pacing guides.

Small group sessions, varied in size and content area, can address varying needs and real-life situations that arise in the classroom.

It is important that this professional development is created and facilitated by effective, practicing Shelby County teachers. Having teachers who are effective and confident in their practice share their lessons and instructional strategies that apply Tennessee State Standards and have proven effectiveness with Shelby County students will strengthen new teachers’ practice and be consistent with what is expected from the schools and the district. Furthermore, Shelby County teachers have the experience and instructional strategies to be able to modify the level, complexity, and delivery of these sessions to accommodate the needs of each group of teachers.

Recommendation Four: Develop systemic networking tools to connect new teachers.

While a solid, enriching orientation is critical to the success of a new Shelby County educator, a comprehensive induction can last for several years. As significant as the continued support of a Learning Coach can be, continued support of the entire district is also essential. Providing new teachers with a digital platform to post lesson ideas, ask questions, or simply connect with other new teachers could be of immeasurable importance to an early career educator and help new teachers cultivate a rich network that would help them grow in their practice and serve as a catalyst for them to become further invested in Shelby County. Social networking events could also further foster a community of growth and support among teachers.


We believe that our recommended changes and additions would strengthen Shelby County Schools’ new teacher induction model and help ensure more Shelby County students are taught by prepared and effective teachers. A strong foundation in district policy and resources, coupled with ongoing content-specific support, could lead to a new wave of confident, competent, and dedicated educators to take Shelby County to the next level of teacher effectiveness. We look forward to continuing this conversation, and would be happy to meet to further to discuss this important issue.

Fellows who contributed to this memo are:  Daniel DeShon, Amber Ingram, Tanika Johnson, Catina Roberts, Becky Taylor, and Yari Torres.

[i] Halford, J. M. (1998). Easing the way for new teachers. Educational Leadership, 55(5), 33–34.

[ii] Howe, E. R. (2006). Exemplary teacher induction: An international review. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 38, 287–297.

[iii] Kauffman, D., Johnson, S. M., Kardos, S. M., Liu, E., & Peske, H. G. (2002). “Lost at sea”: New teachers’ experiences with curriculum and assessment. Teachers College Record, 104, 273–300.

[iv] Boreen, J., Johnson, M. K., Niday, D., & Potts, J. (2009). Mentoring beginning teachers: Guiding, reflecting, coaching (2nd ed.). Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

[v] Moir, E., Barlin, D., Gless, J., & Miles, J. (2009). New teacher mentoring: Hopes and promise for improving teacher effectiveness. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

[vi] Glazerman, S., Isenberg, E., Dolfin, S., Bleeker, M., Johnson, A., Grider, M., & Jacobus, M. (2010). Impacts of comprehensive teacher induction: Final results from a randomized controlled study. (NCEE 2010-4027). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

[vii] Guarino, C. M., Santibañez, L., & Daley, G. A. (2006). Teacher recruitment and retention: A review of the recent empirical literature. Review of Educational Research, 76, 173–208.

[viii] Henry, G. T., Bastian, K. C., & Fortner, C. K. (2011). Stayers and leavers: Early-career teacher effectiveness and attrition. Educational Researcher, 40, 271–280.

[ix] Ingersoll, R. M., & Strong, M. (2011). The impact of induction and mentoring programs for beginning teachers: A critical review of the research. Review of Education Research, 81, 201–233.

[x] Odell, S. J., & Ferraro, D. P. (1992). Teacher mentoring and teacher retention. Journal of Teacher

                   Education, 43, 200–204.

[1] Richardson, R. C., Glessner, L. L., & Tolson, H. (2010). Stopping the leak: Retaining beginning teachers.

                  Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 32(2), 1–8.

[xii] American Association of State Colleges and Universities. (2006). Teacher Induction Programs: Trends and Opportunities. 3(10), 1-4.