A Culture of Collaboration – Supporting New Teachers

By John Pearl, IPLI Mentor and Principal at Battle Ground Elementary, Tippecanoe School Corporation

It is much worse to not train your teachers and keep them than to train them and lose them! As the month of August began, these words from Annette Breaux buzzed in my head like a pesky mosquito. Just a short time earlier I was delighted to learn that our enrollment was up and our staff would be increasing. Our new teachers were just hired, and it was almost time to start the school year.  The new staff members would attend a day of training at the corporate level and be invited to a series of best practice seminars throughout the year.  Would that provide the support needed to be successful at Battle Ground Elementary?  The question was rhetorical.

I had heard Annette talk on several occasions and knew our new teachers deserved better.  I perused my old copy of Breaux and Harry Wong’s book New Teacher Induction: How to Train, Support, and Retain New Teachers; a great reference but a bit too district focused for the needs of our newest staff members.  We needed something easy to read, something that would highlight behavioral management, instruction and planning, motivation and rapport, professionalism, and teacher influence.  We needed 101 “Answers” for New Teachers and Their Mentors.

Our mentor team consisted of myself, our Assistant Principal, and our Title 1 Lead Instructor/Coach.  We quickly read or re-read Breaux’s book and ordered a copy for each of our new teachers.  We met with the teachers and provided a schedule of our “book study” meetings, but most importantly, we introduced the expectation for visits to observe each other and other teachers in the building.  An outline of our book study can be found below but is by no means the only way to learn from this book or to support new teachers.  “101” served mainly as a catalyst for authentic conversations with our new colleagues.  The outline forced scheduled check-ins and routine observations of teachers in action.  The script for this teacher induction program was, in a sense, already written in the easy to read tips of Breaux’s text.  We followed meetings with google surveys to assess the effectiveness of our program.  The book study concluded prior to the end of the first semester. So what’s next?  Simple.  We will repeat the facilitation of teachers observing teachers and will soon begin meeting and discussing another Breaux classic- Real Teachers, Real Challenges, Real Solutions.

To view the book study format for 101 Answers for New Teachers and Their Mentors by Annette Breaux, please click HERE