Transition to Teaching 2008

New Teacher Induction Program a Success

by Frank McIntyre

In 2007-08, the second full year for the province’s New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP), Ontario’s school boards continued to provide comprehensive support to new teachers.

The NTIP includes board and school-level orientation as well as mentoring and professional development in publicly funded schools throughout the province. It was established in 2006 to provide an additional year of support for the early professional growth and development of entrants to a very challenging and often stressful profession.

The College’s Transition to Teaching study found that 92 per cent of the graduates of 2007 hired into regular teaching jobs in publicly funded school boards last year participated in the NTIP. This is similar to the 91 per cent participation rate the previous year.

Graduates of 2006 reported 84 per cent participation in the program in their second year following graduation.

Even the small numbers who say they were not in formal induction 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.

I learned more in one year on the job than I ever could have at the faculty of education. Having supports in place (NTIP, mentor) are key to the success of new first-year teachers.

Full-time long-term occasional teacher, southwest Ontario

This major support program for new teachers is now well established, with high rates of involvement of new teachers in every element of the program.

All of the participants receive a formal orientation to their school board and 98 per cent to their individual school. Mentors support each NTIP teacher and almost all of the participants had been formally evaluated by their school principal by May or June of the school year, when they responded to the College survey.

Most NTIP-supported teachers (96 per cent) received professional development in one or more of the program’s priority areas for new teachers. Literacy and numeracy; planning, assessment and evaluation; classroom management; and student success are the most frequent professional development areas reported.

NTIP professional development in priority areas

PD content Participation rate (%)
Literacy and numeracy 86 (70)*
Planning, assessment and evaluation 79 (70)
Classroom management 68 (56)
Student success 59 (48)
Teaching students with special needs 52 (34)
Safe schools 45 (29)
Parent communication 30 (29)

*spring 2007 comparators in brackets

The support of experienced mentors and other teachers is highly valued by these new teachers.

I was very lucky to have supportive and helpful admin staff and colleagues. This is very important. I was given opportunities to watch experienced teachers and learn about their planning strategies and this was very helpful.

Full-time regular Grade 2/3 teacher, Toronto region

More than four out of five (83 per cent) of these first-year teachers identified some components of their mentor’s coaching, information and demonstration of teaching methods as very helpful to them, choosing the top rating of a five-point scale. Almost all (95 per cent) say support from experienced teachers helped them on the job.

Report cards, advice on helping individual students, classroom management and observing other teachers top their lists of most valuable support.

NTIP participants highly value mentoring support

Type of mentoring Very helpful (%)
Help with report card preparation 47 (44)*
Advice on helping individual students 38 (33)
Coaching on classroom management 38 (41)
Observation of other teachers’ practices 34 (36)
Finding good teaching resources 32 (37)
Coaching on student evaluation 32 (35)
Coaching on instructional methods 31 (36)
Curriculum planning with my mentor 30 (32)
Feedback from my mentor on my teaching 27 (34)
Observation of my mentor’s teaching 26 (29)
Preparation for parent communication 23 (22)
Information on administrative matters 18 (21)

*spring 2007 comparators in brackets

Most of these first-year teachers in the NTIP identified mentoring as a major (36 per cent) or moderate (34 per cent) professional development activity for them over the year.

Mentoring continues to take 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.

Also, fewer than one in five new teachers say they were observed for an hour per month or more in their first teaching year. More than half (51 per cent) say their own teaching was not observed at all by another teacher.

When new teachers give negative comments on mentoring, it is most often linked with lack of access or quality time with mentors.

Principals and vice-principals play critical roles in the initial year for new teachers. Three out of four first-year teachers in the NTIP 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 vice-principal and principal. Almost all (93 per cent) had been formally evaluated by the principal by the time they completed the survey.

Mixed induction experience for occasional teachers

The New Teacher Induction Program in 2007-08 continued to focus mainly on new teachers hired into regular contracts, although beginning in 2007-08 boards were permitted to use NTIP funds to support beginning long-term occasional teachers.

There has been some growth from the preceding year in long-term occasional teacher participation, although only about one in four report formal participation. Daily supply teachers are not eligible to formally participate in the NTIP and most do not.

NTIP participation by ontario school board contract type

Type of employment NTIP participants (%)
Regular or permanent 92 (91)*
Long-term occasional 26 (16)
Daily occasional or supply 3 (4)

*spring 2007 comparators in brackets

First-year support is available to many occasional teachers, whether or not they are officially in the NTIP, through various elements of the program in place at their school boards.

With the increased duration of occasional teaching stints as the entry to the profession in Ontario, many new teachers face their early years in a challenging profession without the advantage of this highly valued support from experienced teachers.

Occasional teacher supports

Type of support Long-term occasional teachers (%) Daily supply teachers (%)
School board orientation 43 44
School orientation 37 7
Mentoring 45 10
Evaluation by prinicpal 26 15
PD – literacy and numeracy 58 21
PD – planning and assessment 39 15
PD – special needs 39 14
PD – safe schools 30 19
PD – student success 30 11
PD – classroom management 27 24
PD – one of priority areas 82 44

Some consider their extended occasional teaching to be an excellent entry to the profession. Others say they are on their own and lack essential support that is available to others.

There needs to be more support for occasional teachers. My first few months left me feeling very isolated. You’re at a new school every day. It takes a long time to get to know people and to develop a support network.

Daily supply teacher, Intermediate-Senior, qualified in music, eastern Ontario

It has been a wonderful experience. Each day I learn so much from the students, just as much as they are learning. It’s a wonderful career, which is never the same each day!

Long-term occasional Grade 4 teacher, northwest Ontario