by Frank McIntyre
by Alex Bozikovic
by Melodie McCullough
Transition to Teaching
Help has arrived. In 2006–07, Ontario’s school boards provided new teachers with highly rated professional support from experienced educators, using resources available through the province’s New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP).
The program, which began in 2006, provides orientation, mentoring and professional development in school boards across the province. It was established in recognition of the value of a year of on-the-job support for the growth and development of entrants to a very challenging and stressful profession.
The College’s Transition to Teaching study found that 91 per cent of 2006 graduates hired into regular teaching jobs in publicly funded school boards last year participated in NTIP.
Even the small number who say they were not in a formal induction program report that they had a mentor or a formal orientation program, were evaluated by their principals, or had access to professional development opportunities similar to those funded through NTIP.
The shape and impact of this ground-breaking commitment to a new generation of teachers is clear in the survey responses. Most NTIP participants (88 per cent) receive support from experienced teacher-mentors. Most first-year teachers in regular teaching jobs also receive a grounding in policy, administrative, school community and curricular contexts through formal orientation to their school (57 per cent) and school board (89 per cent).
Virtually all (97 per cent) NTIP-supported teachers had professional development in one or more of the program’s priority areas for new teachers. Literacy and numeracy, planning, assessment and evaluation, and classroom management are the most frequent content areas reported by participants.
First-year teachers in NTIP with PD in priority areas
The support of experienced mentors and other teachers is highly valued by these new teachers.
Four out of five (78 per cent) first-year teachers identify some components of the coaching, information and demonstration of teaching methods they received as very helpful to them. Almost all (94 per cent) say these resources from experienced teachers helped them on the job. Report cards, classroom management and teaching resources top the list of areas where they valued support most highly.
Types of mentoring as valued by NTIP participants
Most first-year teachers in NTIP identify mentoring as a major (35 per cent) or moderate (34 per cent) professional development activity for them over the year.
Mentoring in the initial full year of Ontario’s NTIP program took place mainly outside the classroom. Fewer than one in five first-year teachers say they had as much as one hour per month to observe their mentor or another teacher in the classroom. Fewer than one in six new teachers say they were observed for an hour per month or more in their first teaching year. Almost half (47 per cent) say their teaching was not observed at all.
Whether in the classroom or beyond, regular access is identified as central to making the mentoring relationship work well. Asked what was most helpful as professional development, first-year teachers said:
Where new teachers give negative comments on mentoring, it is most often linked with a lack of access or quality time with their mentors.
Principals and vice-principals play critical roles for new teachers in their initial year. Three out of four first-year teachers in the NTIP program give a positive rating to the support they received from school administrators. Fully 43 per cent give the highest rating – excellent – to the support they had from their principal and vice-principal. Almost all (93 per cent) had been formally evaluated by the principal by the time they completed their survey responses.
Occasional teachers miss out
In today’s glutted teacher market in Ontario, most teachers do not progress beyond occasional teaching in their first year. Only two out of five 2006 teacher education graduates employed by publicly funded Ontario school boards in 2006–07 had regular contracts by year end. Thirty-six per cent held long-term occasional positions and 24 per cent were daily occasionals.
The New Teacher Induction Program focuses on new teachers hired into regular contracts. School boards may extend NTIP to occasional teachers but this is far from common. More than half (57 per cent) of first-year teachers hired by publicly funded school boards in the province in 2006–07 did not have access to the NTIP program.
NTIP participation by Ontario school board contract type
Teachers in their second year of teaching with regular jobs, when surveyed in 2006–07, confirmed that NTIP was available to them as well. Three out of four (76 per cent) second-year teachers with regular contracts say they participated in NTIP. However, more than one in three (37 per cent) 2005 graduates were still in occasional teaching after two years, and only 18 per cent of these were in the induction program.
With a steadily increasing duration of occasional teaching stints as their entry to the profession in Ontario, many new teachers face their early years in a challenging profession without the advantage of highly valued support from experienced mentors.
The Transition to Teaching study is made possible by grants from the Ministry of Education.
Transition to Teaching 2007