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Teacher collaborative releases guide to support new teachers

from left, director Patricia Brady; outreach coordinator Jeff Kohmstedt; assistant director Nancy Johnson; and student Alexis Jones.
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L. Brian Stauffer

The Illinois New Teacher Collaborative has published a comprehensive online guide to help school districts develop and refine induction and mentoring programs for novice teachers. INTC staff members involved in the project include, from left, director Patricia Brady; outreach coordinator Jeff Kohmstedt; assistant director Nancy Johnson; and student Alexis Jones.

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9/18/2013 | Sharita Forrest, Education and Social Work Editor | 217-244-1072; slforres@illinois.edu

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — When school bells began ringing a few weeks ago to convene a new academic year, thousands of novice teachers embarked upon their first teaching assignments in Illinois. However, statistics show that within five years, about 30 to 40 percent of these new teachers will leave the profession, often as a result of a perceived lack of support from their schools’ administrations.

To help Illinois schools support new teachers during their critical first few years in the classroom, the Illinois New Teacher Collaborative has developed a comprehensive resource, the Illinois Induction Guide.

Released online today (Sept. 18), the guide provides step-by-step advice on planning, designing and implementing induction and mentoring programs for new teachers and provides school districts with the tools for evaluating and refining existing programs.

A team of 25 experts – which included K-12 teachers, mentors, administrators and program coordinators, as well as consultants, researchers and representatives from the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois State Board of Education – collaboratively wrote and vetted the information in the induction guide.

Organized around the nine Induction Program Standards established by the Illinois State Board of Education in 2010 to promote teacher excellence, each of the guide’s standards offers free downloadable resources that administrators can adapt to their programs’ needs and current situations.

“Until this guide, there had not been a comprehensive resource that school districts could follow in improving or setting up their own programs,” said Nancy Johnson, the assistant director of INTC. “There were induction standards that the state had adopted into their rules, but not something as practical as this guide.”

The INTC began developing the guide a year ago, after concerns arose about the state’s decision to eliminate funding for a $14 million program that provided competitive grants to school districts and Regional Offices of Education for professional development of new teachers.

“This is a very difficult time for education in Illinois, given the state’s financial situation and cuts at the state and local levels,” said Patricia Brady, the director of INTC. “We are hoping that this free online resource will assist school districts across the state at a time when they don’t have the money to pay for consultants or other people to come into their districts to help them mentor and provide support for beginning teachers.”

Every teacher that leaves the profession in a mid-sized to large school district costs the district $10,000 to $18,000 in recruitment, hiring and training expenditures. However, intensive new teacher induction programs such as those promoted in the Illinois Induction Guide can mitigate those costs, resulting in a return of up to $1.66 for every $1 invested, according to the INTC.

“Because turnover is expensive for school districts, investing in an induction program actually saves money,” Brady said. “Induction and mentoring makes new teachers more effective faster, makes principals’ jobs easier and distributes leadership so that administrators aren’t the only ones responsible for bringing up new teachers.

“But, ultimately, it’s for the kids. We want what’s best for the children of Illinois, and making sure that every child has a qualified teacher who is being adequately supported and given the resources that he or she needs is the best way to ensure that all children are able to be successful.”

The Illinois Induction Guide is available online.

Based at the University of Illinois, the INTC is a statewide partnership of individuals and groups interested in attracting and retaining new teachers and enhancing their abilities to promote student learning. An executive board that comprises representatives from the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the Illinois Principals Association, the Illinois State Board of Education, Regional Offices of Education and the business and higher education communities guides the INTC’s policies and activities.

The INTC’s work is supported by the College of Education at the university, the Illinois State Board of Education and State Farm Companies Foundation.

Editor's note: To contact Patricia Brady, call 217-244-7376; email pbrady@illinois.edu.
To contact Nancy Johnson, call 217-244-3166; email nljohnsn@illinois.edu.

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