Program Leadership: As a first step in developing this program, District 15 created the position of Teacher Induction Facilitator/Trainer. Carole Einhorn, a district teacher, was named to this position. This step was taken to ensure that the time needed to develop and coordinate the new induction program, and to assist mentors and new teachers would be available. The district also created a Teacher Induction Advisory Committee to assist in setting direction for the program and to monitor and guide improvement of the program.
The Program Structure: A four-year teacher induction "curriculum" was developed in the spring of 1998 that includes a rationale, program standards and annual goals. The four year structure was selected to correspond to the structure for a proposed state-mandated induction program that was under discussion at the state level. This also aligns the Palatine program with the newly legislated "Initial Teaching Certificate" in Illinois.
Mentor Training: During the program's first year (1998-99) District 15 provided formal training for 117 mentor teachers. The training consisted of a one-day workshop conducted in August and one half-day release time follow-up workshop in November. A make-up session was held in September for mentors who were unable to attend the August workshop. A voluntary workshop was also offered to building principals and fifteen out of twenty attended this first year.
Mentor Selection: Mentors are selected by building principals and are assigned to a protégé in their building, who has a similar teaching assignment, if possible. In most cases, mentors have one protégé, but in some unique situations, mentors have two proteges. Mentors are encouraged to schedule regular meetings with their proteges and to support them throughout the school year.
New Teacher Orientation: Our 126 new teachers participated in a four-day Teacher Orientation Program prior to the start of the school year. During this program, the teachers learned about the community, our district's mission and vision, and the curriculum.
Other Methods of Providing Support: Following the orientation program, one additional day was set aside for mentors and proteges to meet and work together before the start of school.
Besides the four-day Teacher Orientation Program, four half-day release time follow-up sessions were scheduled throughout the school year. These programs are designed to meet the needs of the new teachers. Needs are determined from a needs assessment, administered in September and from information gleaned from research on the needs of new teachers.
Support Materials Provided: New Teachers received a District 15 New Teacher Handbook and a copy of The First Days of School by Harry Wong. Mentor teachers were also provided a Mentoring Handbook.
Program Evaluation: Each New Teacher and Mentor Training Workshop was evaluated by participants, and a feedback report was assembled by the Teacher Induction Facilitator/Trainer. A Teacher Induction Advisory Committee is currently analyzing all collected data, so the program can be redesigned for the next school year.
While we know it will take time to create a program that truly meets our needs, we feel we have made an excellent start this year. We are positive about the future of this program. It is still a work in progress and subject to revisions based on feedback from mentors, proteges, and principals.
Note: Carole Einhorn, the article's author, is also a National Board Certified Teacher