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New Teacher Induction: Model Classrooms and Teacher-Coaches

In a previous article about inducting new teachers, I discussed the importance of administrators having a structured approach to support first-year educators. When you devise a year-long, monthly schedule for meeting with new teachers, you’ll be able to offer them timely resources and guidance for first-year experiences.

Of course, being “new” is a three-year process. So what can administrators do to provide ongoing professional development to new teachers to ensure that they continue to build their content knowledge and best instructional practices?

Two words: Master teachers.

Identify Model Classrooms for New Teachers to Observe

As principals, we know who our master teachers are. When we walk into their classrooms, students are highly engaged in instruction, in-depth critical thinking is a priority, and there’s consistent, masterful implementation of best practices. By tapping into the expertise already in your building, you can prioritize ongoing professional development for your newer teachers throughout the school year.

Start by identifying model classrooms in different grade levels and content areas. When reviewing different classrooms, note what instructional practices you deem as hallmark examples (backed by research). Focus on the instructional practices rather than traits specific to certain content areas. The priority is to build a toolbox of best practices for your new teachers. If you can align content areas with best practices too, then great — but it’s not necessary. Best instructional practices, however, are universal.

The goal of identifying master teachers and what they do well is to create a list of classrooms for your new teachers to observe throughout the year. This process gives new teachers expert colleagues (coaches) whom they can seek out, beyond the formal observations, for ongoing support, ideas, and clarification.

Create a Cohort of Coaches

Sending new teachers into classrooms to observe best practices will require someone or a group of people to help facilitate tasks and discussions. Some schools have the advantage of having instructional coaches on staff. Use them! If you don’t have a designated instructional coach, identify teachers or support staff you can assist in spearheading this initiative.

Once you’ve identified two or three classrooms, at different grade levels, that model instructional practices you want new teachers to replicate, approach those teachers and ask them to be part of your cohort of coaches. Most teachers will be flattered and eager to help their newer colleagues.

In your first year of creating this cohort, you should take the lead in organizing and guiding the group. This will help your staff understand your vision and purpose, as well as your expectations for the school.

Here’s an example of a vision and purpose you might share with your coaches to help get them excited and unified about what you’re trying to do:

  • Vision: To give ongoing support for new teachers (under three years’ experience) to observe, learn, and replicate best practices in instruction, regardless of content area.
  • Purpose: Provide firsthand observation of best instructional practices on topics such as:
    • Questioning techniques
    • Inquiry-based learning
    • Facilitating student discussions
    • Interactive learning (rather than passive listening)
    • Use of authentic resources to make real-world connections
    • Integrating best practices in reading and writing in all content areas
    • Active listening techniques
    • Behavior management and positive reinforcement

Once you’ve laid out the vision, then you can move on to logistics such as:

  • Your expectations of teacher-coaches
  • Scheduling concerns for observations
  • Follow-up conversations between coaches and new teachers

The follow-up conversations are a critical component to this process. They give new teachers an opportunity to ask questions, process what they saw, and brainstorm how these techniques might look in their classrooms. Most importantly, it will allow coaches to explain why they took specific actions and the expected outcomes for students.

Consider Budget and Other Details

The primary budget consideration will be the cost of substitute teachers to cover new teachers’ classrooms during the observation and coverage for both classrooms during follow-up conversations. Ideally, post-observation discussions should happen immediately after the observation. If finding substitutes is not possible, think creatively by using personnel within the school to cover classes or by scheduling observations to occur right before the coach’s planning period.

Additional details to work out might include:

  • Coordinating schedules
  • Selecting focus areas
  • Gathering resources (e.g., short, research-based articles that correlate with the planned observation)

Ideally, new teachers should participate in at least three observations. Meeting in early fall, mid-year, and early spring will allow for layers of understanding to build over time. In addition, it gives time for new teachers to put new strategies into practice and for principals to observe and offer additional coaching.

Follow Up

After the first year of using model classrooms, do it again! Remember, new teachers are learning over the course of three years. A teacher’s first year is mainly about surviving, the second year is about fixing what you didn’t know from the first year, and the third year is for refining.

New teachers need a lot of support and coaching in their first three years. It’s the prime time for you as their leader to shape them into a master teacher — one who exemplifies best practices to grow and support students.

Another benefit of using model classrooms, beyond being a training space for new teachers, is having these classrooms identified for other veteran teachers to observe. All growth-minded teachers are eager to gain deeper insights into best practices. You can provide this ongoing professional development by using the experts in your building. They are right at your fingertips.

PD for School Leaders

Helping new teachers succeed means helping students thrive. Advancement Courses is here to help you do that with professional development that will help you become a more impactful leader:

  • The Seven Domains of Teacher Leadership: Becoming a teacher leader is about much more than taking on a new title. Learn how to make a meaningful impact on your school’s improvement efforts and create a more equitable learning environment for your students.
  • A Year in the Life of a School Leader: A Road Map to Success: Create a plan for a stress-free school year, including how to establish a vision and expectations at the beginning of the year, help teachers stay motivated around the holidays and state testing time, and create data-driven improvement plans over the summer.
  • Using Data to Understand Inequities in Schools: Inequities in education are sometimes easy to spot, but more often, inequality is not so apparent. Looking closely at student data points such as demographics, enrollment, attendance, and discipline can often tell a deeper story about inequities that may exist in your school.
  • The Art of Delegation: A School Leader’s Guide: Become a healthier, more successful leader through the power of delegation. Learn when to delegate, what kinds of tasks to delegate, and how to choose and coach the right people to help you lead your school to success.
  • Networking to Strengthen School Leaders: School leadership can be a lonely job. Learn how to surround yourself with mentors and collaborators who will challenge, encourage, and inspire you to build a stronger school and a healthier, more passion-fueled career.

In addition to these, Advancement Courses offers more than 280 online, self-paced PD courses covering both foundational topics and emerging trends in K–12 education. Courses are available for both graduate and continuing education credit for your salary advancement or recertification needs.

Fulfilling Your PD Requirements?

Choose from 280+ online, self-paced continuing education courses for teacher salary advancement and recertification. Available for either CEU/clock hours or in partnership with regionally-accredited universities for graduate credit.

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