In recent years, we have seen a rapid expansion of policies and resources devoted to new teacher induction. Most of these policies are based on an assumption that induction programs have a positive influence on teacher quality and student learning. Yet there is little evidence to support claims for such policies regarding the distinct components of induction programs or their effectiveness (Wang, Odell & Schwille, 2008). Scholars have argued for targeted mentoring that addresses the learning needs of beginning teachers with regard to instructional practice (Feiman-Nemser, 2001). Some suggest that induction efforts may increase teacher knowledge, student achievement, teacher satisfaction, and retention (Darling-Hammond, 1999; Fletcher, Strong & Villar, 2008; Smith & Ingersoll, 2004).
There is, however, insufficient data to assist educators and policy makers in determining the most effective or critical components of induction programs. There is scant consensus around a number of induction issues, for example: the most effective mentoring condition (full-time or add-on mentoring); the amount of time required to enhance the development of beginning teachers; the amount of professional development mentors need to be effective; and the level of match (subject or grade level) required between mentor and beginning teacher. Furthermore, few studies explore the different components of induction and their effects on teacher and student outcomes.
Given such a dearth of evidence and the current state of induction policy, this study was developed to examine differences in student engagement and teacher instructional practice in two types of induction conditions: comprehensive full-time induction and add-on induction. These two conditions differed in
- the amount of mentor participation in professional development on induction;
- the amount of time mentors could spend on structured observations, reflection, and feedback focused on pedagogy;
- mentors' abilities to prioritize induction efforts;
- mentors' abilities to serve as liaisons between beginning teachers and administrators; and
- the amount of professional development mentors could offer beginning teachers.
The goal of this study was to examine the instructional practice of beginning teachers who were mentored in these two conditions and to explore differences in instructional practice and student engagement.