Multi-Faceted Induction Program Improves Teacher Effectiveness

NTC’s partnership with Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) is realizing big benefits in terms of improved teacher effectiveness. After an extensive due diligence process that included attending NTC’s National Symposium on Teacher Induction and visiting NTC’s induction program in Chicago, TPS chose NTC as an induction partner.  Now entering its third year, the program has expanded from teacher induction to include school leadership development, all aligned with the district’s talent development initiatives.

Meeting District Priorities

In the spring of 2011, a TPS leadership team attended NTC’s Induction Institute and began defining a program that integrated NTC’s proven theory of action with district priorities.  NTC consulted with district stakeholders to learn the elements they expected in an induction program and the staffing required. Aligning mentoring with the district’s new evaluation rubric —TLE (Teacher/Leader Effectiveness)—was identified as a requirement. 

Stage 1: High Quality Teacher Induction

Recruiting talented teachers to serve as mentors was the first priority. NTC worked with the district to define mentor qualifications and ensure a rigorous hiring process. The eight teachers selected as mentors attended NTC’s Mentor Academies, a sequenced program of professional development that addressed the importance of building trusting relationships, employing mentoring language, engaging stakeholders, and strategic use of NTC’s Formative Assessment and Support system.

All first and second year teachers in core areas were assigned a mentor who worked with them weekly on key teacher practices such as analyzing student work, lesson planning, assessment, and differentiated instruction. Regular use of the TLE rubric gave both mentor and mentee a common language to discuss effective teaching, insuring mentoring was consistent with district expectations.

Video Supports Teacher Reflection

Mentors regularly videotaped their mentees and then analyzed the video together. This opportunity for teacher reflection included questions that focused on identified lesson objectives. As a result of having a trusted colleague, the new teacher’s understanding of instruction and student learning deepened. Mentors also videotaped experienced teachers. New teachers were able to observe best practices of their veteran colleagues without having to leave their school sites.  This practice helped build community as experienced teachers participated in the induction program.

Stage 2: School Leadership Development

As part of its education reform work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the district was challenged to develop and evaluate their principals. In the second year of the program, our partnership with TPS included the launch of a school leadership development program that provided professional development and coaching for district supervisors and assistant superintendents related to how they could coach new principals. Coaching topics included their role as school instructional leaders and the data-driven analysis of student work.

As a high school teacher, I influenced 140 to 150 kids a year. As a mentor, I influence up to 2500 students annually. This program is making a difference for the teachers and students who need it the most. Claire Robertson New Teacher Mentor

Sharing Resources to Build Capacity

As new teachers and their mentors realized success, awareness of the induction program spread and caught the attention of other district resources. The Curriculum Department asked mentors to provide support on Common Core. Staff development teachers located at school sites attended Mentor Academies so that all district coaches were using common tools and protocols.  School leaders and mentors attended joint data retreats that analyzed teacher strengths and areas for improvement. Supporting educators with common strategies, coaching language, and tools has resulted in improved teacher retention and effectiveness, and built leadership capabilities throughout the district.

Expanding Her Influence: Claire Robertson

Claire Robertson had taught for 26 years and thought she had one of the best jobs in the world teaching advanced placement English at Booker T. Washington High School, ranked among the top 100 high schools in the United States.

Yet when the district’s new mentoring program was announced, she was ready for a new challenge.She researched NTC and liked what she saw.   

NTC’s Mentor Academies provided valuable information and tools just as the mentors were ready for it, according to Claire. One of the first lessons was the importance of building relationships with mentees and establishing the trust and confidence necessary for their work together. It also modeled the relationship teachers need to build with their students.

Videotaping beginning teachers became an important mentoring tool at TPS. When a mentee felt comfortable, Claire videotaped her giving a lesson.  The mentee reviewed the video, and then they discussed it together. “Mentees see their classrooms in ways they hadn’t before,” says Claire. “It’s like scripting on steroids.”

Starting her third year in the program, Claire is glad she made the career change. She’s gained a new understanding of the district and seen her professional expertise broadened. “As a high school teacher, I influenced 140 to 150 kids a year. As a mentor, I influence up to 2500 students annually. This program is making a difference for the teachers and students who need it the most.”

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