Exemplary Induction Programs
Framework for Inducting, Retaining, and
Supporting Teachers (FIRST)
Lafourche Parish Public Schools
The Lafourche Parish Public Schools with its central office in
Thibodaux, Louisiana, has instituted the Framework for Inducting,
Retaining, and Supporting Teachers (FIRST) program. The
primary purpose of the program is to improve student achievement.
To accomplish this, the FIRST program has the three main goals:
- Reducing the intensity of the transition into teaching
- Improving teacher effectiveness
- Increasing the retention rate of highly qualified teachers in
the school district
Inception of the FIRST Program
When the program was originally being developed, the Lafourche
Parish schools researched some of the most successful induction
programs and used these programs as models. In doing so, they looked
first to what has been called the "mother of all induction
programs," that of the Flowing Wells School District in Tucson,
Arizona. (See further on in this chapter on page 86.)
A Cooperative Effort
Lafourche attributes much of the success of its FIRST program to
the combined efforts of the following people: teachers, students,
and administrators in all of its 27 schools, central office administrators,
curriculum coordinators, site-based instructional facilitators,
parents, school board members, community members, and the faculty
members of the education department at Nicholls State University,
who work closely and collaboratively with the school system to ensure
top-quality preservice teacher preparation.
Lafourche typically hires between 40 and 60 first-time teachers
in August to fill positions in its 27 schools. The highly acclaimed
success of its induction program has become one of the district's
main attractions for new teachers. The program consists of three
ongoing training and support. It commences with a highly structured
four-day training session for all new teachers in early August,
before school begins. New teachers receive stipends to attend. Even
participation is voluntary, 99 percent of new teachers participate
On the first day, new teachers are greeted and welcomed by the
superintendent, the assistant superintendent, supervisors, principals,
coordinators, school board members, and experienced teachers. Welcome
banners adorn the training arena, and refreshments are served. Each
participant's picture is taken and placed on a map of the district
next to the school where that participant will be teaching. The
new teachers are seated in cooperative groups and they immediately
begin their first "bellwork" assignment, which allows
everyone to get to know one another. The superintendent officially
welcomes everyone, sharing the district's philosophy, goals, and
The three curriculum coordinators are the main presenters throughout
the four days. Other presenters include a Title 1 coordinator, a
education coordinator, a principal, experienced teachers, and a
Chronicle of a New Teacher
I am a new teacher in Thibodaux, Louisiana.
. . . Upon signing my contract, I am invited
to participate in the FIRST program, a three-year
journey toward effective teaching. I attend
a four-day training in early August. On Day
1 we are welcomed by administrators, school
board members, coordinators, principals, and
experienced teachers. There are refreshments,
handshakes, welcome banners, cameras flashing,
and an overall atmosphere of people who are
happy to have us as members of their organization.
We immediately get started with "bellwork,"
an assignment that we will receive each morning
as we arrive. The atmosphere is that of a "model
classroom," where we are the students and
the induction team members are our teachers.
They model exactly what we need to do during
our first days and weeks of school.
The superintendent and the induction team introduce
themselves. Everyone is smiling, everyone is
expressing confidence in our future success
as teachers, everyone shares a common philosophy,
and I begin to understand what is meant by a
"shared culture" of beliefs that must
guide any successful school district. We are
assured that the next four days will help alleviate
our fears, answer many of our questions, and
provide the basic tools we need in order to
become effective classroom teachers. I like
this place already!
The very first things we learn are the classroom
procedures-procedures for securing attention,
working in groups, taking breaks, passing out
materials, and so on. These procedures are modeled
and practiced. They remain consistent throughout
the four days and help our "classroom"
run as smoothly as a well-oiled machine. I learn
that establishing procedures from day one is
crucial to good classroom management and I receive
explicit instructions on how to establish routines,
procedures, and rules for my classroom.
The four days are highly structured; the pace
is steady; the environment is very positive
and work-oriented. We are actively involved
in all lessons. Though classroom management
remains the focus, we also learn about district
policies and procedures, positive discipline,
lesson planning, instructional strategies,
with special needs, and more. On Day 3 a second-year
teacher talks to
us about first-year experiences and the value
of induction. It helps to hear from someone
who was in our shoes just one year ago. On
4 soft music echoes in the distance as we all
stand together listening to a poem titled "I
Am a Teacher."10 There are very few dry
eyes in the room as we receive certificates
of achievement along with hugs and well-wishes
from our "teachers." Next, we are
treated to a luncheon, where we meet mentor
teachers, principals, school board members,
and more of the administrative staff. Following
lunch, we visit demonstration classrooms, where
the district's most successful veteran teachers
show us how they have prepared for the first
day of school.
I head for home, much more confident than I
was just four short days ago. With so many people
helping to ease my transition into teaching,
I am confident that I will become a well trained,
highly effective, and successful classroom teacher.
And the children I teach will be the ultimate
Each participant receives a copy of The First Days of
along with a new teacher binder that includes the following:
- A letter of welcome from the superintendent
- The district's philosophy and mission statements
- Staff and faculty rosters for each school
- A place for posting daily schedules and duty schedules
- A guide for developing a classroom management plan
- A place for posting classroom or schoolwide discipline plans
- Checklists of things that must be in place before school begins
- Sheets for recording individual student data
- Interest inventories for students
- Tips on parent communication and teacherparent relations
- Tips on classroom management
- A "success journal" for teachers' daily classroom
The atmosphere is comfortable, pleasant, and workoriented. The
setting replicates a model classroom. The curriculum coordinators
are the "teachers" and the new teachers become the "students."
Participants remain actively involved in all lessons. Procedures
and routines are immediately established, modeled, and practiced
in order to set the stage for a well-managed classroom.
Day 1 focuses on classroom management and local
policies and procedures.
Days 2 and 3 address the first days of school,
discipline, instructional strategies, assessment techniques, working
with parents, and meeting
individual learner needs. Though a variety of topics are addressed
during the four days, the primary focus remains on classroom
On Day 3 a second-year teacher talks to the new
teachers about the value of the induction process. This teacher
entertains questions from the inductees and shares personal first-year
On Day 4, after a general review, there is an
awards ceremony, where new teachers receive certificates of achievement
for completion of the initial phase of the induction process. A
luncheon follows, where
new teachers meet mentor teachers, principals, school board members,
and administrative staff members. On the afternoon of Day 4, the
new teachers visit demonstration classrooms specific to their grade
levels and receive advice and instruction from some of the district's
most successful veteran teachers.
In January the school district hires between 30 and 40 more first-time
teachers. For those new teachers hired in January, a "streamlined"
two-day initial induction session is conducted
At each school site new teachers are paired with mentor teachers,
who offer guidance and assistance during the first two years of
teaching. Mentor teachers are paid for their services. The mentoring
component is state-funded. The new teacher's particular needs, grade
level, and assignment, as well as the location of the new teacher's
classroom, are all considered in matching mentors with new teachers.
These mentor teachers, selected for their excellence in teaching,
receive three days of intensive training conducted by the curriculum
coordinators and they continue to receive ongoing training throughout
their tenure. They remain classroom teachers but receive release
time to work with the new teachers.
The mentor teachers work collaboratively with the district curriculum
coordinators and site-based instructional facilitators in conducting
informal observations of the newly-hired teachers. These observations
are not used for evaluation; the intent is to provide new teachers
with specific, immediate, nonthreatening feedback on their teaching
performance. Individual improvement plans are developed in order
to enhance each new teacher's present skills
Lafourche has instructional facilitators in each of their K-8 schools.
They hand-select their most effective teachers to spend their days
in classrooms conducting demonstration lessons, observing and
providing feedback, assisting teachers in setting up classroom management
plans, and lending their ears, shoulders, and expertise to new teachers.
It's so much more effective than their mentoring component-not because
the mentors aren't doing excellent jobs, but because they have their
own classrooms and can't always provide immediate assistance and
feedback. These facilitators are in the
classrooms daily, reinforcing all of the things taught to the new
teachers during induction.
The instructional facilitators receive training from the school
system. Lafourche also conducts monthly support group meetings for
them and the facilitators in turn, go back and host monthly meetings
new teachers and provide ongoing training for their entire staffs.
Another component of the induction process involves monthly district-level
new teacher support group meetings. During these meetings new teachers
share their experiences, voice concerns, and cooperatively seek
solutions to problems. The curriculum coordinators facilitate these
New teachers are also required to participate in the Louisiana
Teacher Assistance and Assessment Program, with formal observations
determining certification decisions. All teachers participating
in this program receive two additional days of training in September
on the Louisiana Components of Effective Teaching. The FIRST program
has recently been adopted as a statewide induction model, as induction
has become an integral component of the state's assistance and assessment
program. The new statewide program is now known as "Louisiana
In April new teachers return for a one-day induction review.
On this day new teachers address ongoing concerns, share first-year
teaching experiences, and receive additional training.
During the second and third years of the induction process,
the curriculum coordinators and instructional facilitators continue
to work closely with the new teachers. Classroom observations are
ongoing. In addition, second- and third-year teachers attend four
half-day sessions to receive further training in classroom management,
authentic assessment, the Louisiana Components of Effective Teaching,
high-stakes testing, instructional strategies, positive discipline
techniques, and instructional decision making. During one segment
of each session, participants pose questions, voice concerns, seek
solutions to common classroom problems, and share personal classroom
experiences. Again, participants are paid stipends to attend.
Second- and third-year teachers also have the option of participating
in monthly support group meetings.
Another means of support for the new teachers is the Prescriptive
Inservice Program. The program consists of successful veteran teachers
providing monthly inservice training for participants and conducting
ongoing, informal prescriptive observations with feedback. Participation
is voluntary and any teacher requiring additional support may participate.
Role of the Principal
At each school site the role of the principal in the induction
is an important one. To ensure consistency between what is promoted
during the initial induction training and what will be promoted
in the schools, principals receive awareness training before the
actual induction process begins. At each school the principal provides
orientation, support, encouragement, and guidance for the new teachers,
along with opportunities for ongoing assistance and staff development.
During the initial induction training in early August, one of the
principals provides some of the actual training. New teachers hear-from
a principal's viewpoint-what will be expected of them regarding
professional attire, attitude, responsibilities, and professionalism
Data collected since 1993 indicate a dramatic decrease in the rate
new teacher attrition in the Lafourche Parish school system. Just
few short years ago, the Lafourche Parish school system had a vision.
The goal: to implement an induction program that would ease the
way for new teachers by providing ongoing training and support.
results: overwhelming enthusiasm on the part of
new teachers, mentors, administrators, school board members, and
the community, a drastic decrease in new teacher
attrition rates, and a culture of more confident, competent,
qualified new teachers influencing the lives of thousands
And all within a budget of $50,000 a year. Compare this investment
with "The Costs of Low Retention" in Chapter 1, page 6.
This a small price to pay for an endeavor on which no dollar amount
could possibly be placed: the children, our future. For information
on the Lafourche
Parish Public Schools' FIRST program, contact
Lafourche Parish Public Schools
110 Bowie Road
Thibodaux, LA 70301
Is Lafourche's FIRST Program?
so successful that Louisiana
has adopted it as a statewide model for all school systems.
One can't argue with their success and the Lafourche schools
have made some tremendous strides. Since implementing an induction
program, their attrition rate has dropped an astounding 80
The Louisiana FIRST program is designed to equip school system
teams with knowledge, skills, and dispositions to significantly
improve the assistance opportunities available to new teachers.
Information on Louisiana FIRST is available at