Call for induction is a show of leadership
Leadership, partnership and governance. The new College Council will work together to have a positive influence on the profession within these three broad themes. Teacher induction is one example.

By Marilyn Laframboise

In my first address to Council as Chair, I reinforced my belief that the combination of returning and new Council members, all of whom bring a vast wealth of experience, strengths and knowledge to the Council, will allow us to demonstrate innovative leadership, effective partnerships and strong governance that will be meaningfully infused into every facet of our profession – to every member, to every partner, to the public and to every student. You will be hearing more about this over the next three years.

The cues are all around us.

New teachers entering the profession want more help in their first few years. Veteran teachers, retiring in large numbers, are taking the richness of their experience with them. And school boards, strapped for cash, find it difficult to commit scarce resources to help close the knowledge gap by creating and supporting mentoring programs.

In education today, only those programs that are mandatory get their due.

But where does that leave students?

Teacher induction improves learning by improving teaching. Teachers know it. School boards know it. Educational researchers around the world confirm it. That's why the Ontario College of Teachers has taken the lead in calling on the provincial government to fully fund mandatory teacher induction and mentoring programs in every Ontario school board. Further, we have developed a framework based on current research for systematic induction and provided the financial rationale for its creation.

Our interest in this topic is not new. Three years ago, in a report called Maintaining, Ensuring and Demonstrating Competency in the Teaching Profession, the College focused on the challenges of teacher retention and recruitment in this decade. With massive changes already afoot in education and with the projected wave of retirements, the College recommended that school boards establish induction programs to enable beginning teachers "to develop and to refine the knowledge and skills required by members of the teaching profession."

All evidence shows that planned and sustained support for new teachers helps to smooth their transition from faculty classrooms to full-fledged professionals. Induction makes new teachers feel welcomed. It gives them the tools to learn faster and perform better. It makes them feel connected to their colleagues, to the school and to the goals of the system. It gives them a sense of satisfaction and makes them more successful.

It costs roughly $4,400 to recruit a new teacher to the profession. Induction and mentoring helps to keep these new teachers in the profession once they arrive. But only one in four were involved in a formal mentoring program in 2002.

Yet new teachers are subject to some of the toughest assignments and are the first to be considered surplus or to be reassigned when year-end planning occurs. Not only are they learning how to teach, they're often doing it in a variety of settings - all within their first couple of years.

Is it any wonder why more than 60 per cent of Ontario's school boards say that retaining teachers is a problem?

The Ministry of Education must make a commitment to induction now.

To stimulate debate on the issue, the College has written a white paper called New Teacher Induction: Growing Into the Profession. We are consulting with teachers and other education stakeholders across the province on the paper now. Once the feedback has been synthesized, we plan to forward a revised report, reflecting the feedback, to the Minister of Education.

The College, through its promotion of the need for induction programs, is taking a stand on behalf of the profession and the public.

With induction, we want to establish up front what makes sense, why and how the program should be funded and evaluated.

We will do what we can to help teachers become better teachers and improve learning.

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