Direct Instruction Revisited

Posted on March 03, 2012

Tooele County School District’s New Teacher Induction Program

How do we help new teachers get a good start and feel welcome in their new careers?  In Tooele, treat special education and general education professionals work together in operating the School District’s Coaching/Mentoring program. This unique planning effort has provided all new teachers with the same training as they progress through the Utah State Office of Education’s required Entry Year Enhancement (EYE) Program. For the first three years of  new teachers’ careers, they are carefully mentored and then coached in effective teaching strategies, Praxis exam preparation, and Utah Professional Teaching Standards (UPTS). This induction process assists new teachers in feeling comfortable and successful.

Why Induction?

Tooele County School District promotes teacher retention through new teacher mentoring and instructional coaching. The goal of the program is for each new teacher to successfully complete the EYE Program and obtain a Level 2 License. This goal will accomplish several outcomes for the new teacher. First, they will be licensed, highly qualified teachers which will promote learning in each classroom. Secondly, they will have support from experienced veteran teachers through these first years to help them accomplish their goals. Added to this, they will feel they are a part of a team. Tooele district is involved in a second successful year of implementing Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).  In the future our PLC groups will focus on the implementation of Response to Intervention (RtI). This will also strengthen the partnership of special education and regular education commited to helping students succeed.

Highlights and Bright Spots

Tooele County School District’s New Teacher Induction Program is highlighted by:

• Preparing new teachers to begin the first days of school feeling prepared with materials and strategies to be successful

• Providing a building mentor/coach who will assist new teachers in understanding building logistics and procedures

• Introducing a willing and ready PLC team for support

• Linking with district personnel who caan generate support with services and material

• Online resources and professional training at their fingertips

How to retain the “Newbies” through Mentoring

The New Teacher Induction Program begins with two full days of training before school starts. This training centers on getting new teachers ready for the first week of school. It acquaints them with the district administration and specialists they can access for further aid. We will have presenters/trainers from the Utah Personnel Development Center and other organizations help with this training. Teachers will also be exposed to the requirements of the EYE program. Throughout the year, we will meet with first year teachers in two hour trainings that will be held four times throughout the year. These trainings will focus on the Utah Professional Teaching Standards. They will also be required to complete five online Moodle assignments that correspond with the UPTS.

Second year teachers meet with the induction team two times during the year.  They receive instruction on how to complete the required EYE Portfolio. Instruction is also again available to prepare them to pass the various Praxis exams .

Third year teachers also meet two times a year to receive professional development in different breakout sessions. Teachers may choose to attend sessions on such topics as Praxis exam preparation, educational ethics, lesson design, classroom management, power teaching, data collection, Promethean Board uses, and Utah Education Newtwork (UEN) resources.

Building mentor/coaches participate in mentor training as well. We provide two hour trainings for them three times a year. This training focuses on Dr. Jim Knight’s model of Instructional Coaching. His Partnership Principals provide the foundation for our mentoring program. We have been fortunate to have Dr. Knight come to Tooele County School District to train our mentors. Mentors are also trained in conducting classroom observations to be utilized for effective coaching conversations.

An integral component of our mentoring/coaching program is the support of our district administration. All of our district leadership, building principals, and reading and math instructional coaches have had the opportunity to be trained in the Partnership Principals. This allows the educators working with new teachers to use the same terms and techniques as we help new teachers on their career paths.We meet together monthly to share information and concerns, and get advice to support teachers’ needs.

As district mentors, we have the opportunity to have training with statewide coaching associations such as Utah Coaching Network, Utah Special Education Induction Network, Utah Mentor Teacher Academy and Utah State Office of Education Entry Years Enhancement Program. Retaining and encouraging new teachers to improve their practice is our main responsibility. Ultimately, by providing support and developing caring relationships we seek to empower them to teach our future generations.

 No Separation

One unique and beneficial facet of Tooele County School District’s Induction Program is that we have never separated the new teachers into special and general education categories. Our collaborative approach has proven to be beneficial for the instruction of new teachers. We combine general and special education techniques for the training of new teachers in both groups. With the implementation of PLCs in our district two years ago, it has been a natural step for our new teachers to be included in all PLC grade level or subject area teams. We feel the process of collaboration starts on the first day of new teacher induction.

Full time district mentoring specialists also work hand-in-hand in coaching new teachers. One comes from a regular education background, the other is a special educator; however, both work with regular education and special education teachers. When expertise is needed in either area, the district mentor with that expertise will help the new teacher,

We have twenty-eight building mentors who do not have released time during the school day, but get paid for their mentoring. Each mentor fills out an application and gives it to the principal for the mentor/coach position. The building principal then selects the mentor/coach for that building. District mentors are then notified of the selection. Mentor/coaches must submit monthly logs of their contacts with the new teachers that are in the EYE program, attend mentor/coach trainings and submit online assignments.

Is it Working?

As we strive to keep our new teachers, we anticipate some attrition. The data indicates that most of our teachers in the last three years have elected to stay with TCSD. Out of 207 EYE teachers that have started in our district, we still employ 196 of them–a retention rate of 95%. Of those who left, 3 are teaching in other districts, and 8 were not renewed. In 2010-2011 school year, out of 86 EYE teachers that were eligible to move to a level 2 license after completing the EYE requirements, 79 of them have received their level 2 license. 92% have successfully earned a professional educator license.

Challenges in the Future

Finally, we would like to assert that we have the absolute best jobs in the district. We are helping new teachers discover that teaching is not just a job, it is an adventure. Watching new teachers hone their craft through the first years of their careers is like watching beautiful flower bloom. Initially,  they bud as  first year teachers, second they slightly open to new ideas and strategies, third they blossom to full bloom with excitement and flare in their teaching abilities. It is our honor to watch and help them grow.

Authors: Shiela Hurst & Linda Stalliviere Tooele School District

Carolin Quist, West Elementary School

Jared Broderick – Spanish- Clarke Johnsen Jr. High

Greg Montgomery – American Sign Language- Tooele High School

Teachers and Principal collaborating at Harris Elementary. L-R: Sherry Gibby –Sped. Resource, Lynette Meadows, Sped. Resource, Cleo Riggs – Principal.

Tooele County School District Mentors Linda Stalliviere –regular education., Sheila Hurst- special education.


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