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What is comprehensive induction? How is it a lever for continuous instructional improvement?

"If we had only sat down to have a yearlong conversation about a vision of good teaching, Dayenu. If you had only helped us to make our hiring process more rich and deliberate, Dayenu. If you had only helped us to even make that facebook where we introduce everyone thoughtfully, Dayenu. If we had only learned from you how to do a new teacher orientation, Dayenu. And just setting up the mentors and [arranging] to have ongoing learning and a study group, each one of those is a Dayenu. But the whole point of Dayenu is we need all of them. And they're all part of the picture. But they're all also so independently valuable that they're worthy of saying thank you."           

- Rivy Poupko Kletenik, Head of School, Seattle Hebrew Academy

New teacher induction is often defined as structured guidance given to teachers in the early stages of their careers. It bridges the gap between teacher preparation and the day-to-day realities of classroom teaching. Research shows that when well-planned and implemented induction is in place, teachers learn to be effective more quickly and are more likely to stay in their schools.

Induction is more than mentoring. Research also tells us that new teachers benefit from a comprehensive array of supports including mentoring by an experienced colleague but also including early and information-rich hiring, summer preparation, access to complete curricula, supportive leadership and growth-oriented supervision and evaluation. Anyone who has worked in a shcool knows that induction is a process of enculturation as well as a program of supports.  We support school leaders in instituting structural supports for new teachers, such as mentoring programs, but we also facilitate ongoing critical examination of school's professional culture. We know that no amount of strucured support can make up for a lousy professional culture. Few induction programs regard cultural transformation as a condition of their success. We do.

What is good for new teachers is good for all teachers.  New teachers'  successes and failures shine a light on the professional conditions of the school, overall. As leaders attend to the needs of new teachers, building the structures, practices and cultural conditions that nurture their learning, experienced teachers necessarily benefit. For example, a shared vision of good teaching and a common language for discussing good instruction, cornerstones of our approach to comprehensive induction, support all teachers' participation in collaborative exchange. A growth oriented approach to supervision creates the space for new and experienced teachers to take risks, and it is through taking those risks that people learn. For more on the connection between induction and faculty-wide professional learning, read this.