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© 2003 Harry K. Wong Publications, Mountain View, CA
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Exemplary Induction Programs

The Port Huron Program-Typical Yet Elegantly Effective
The New Teacher Induction Program in Port Huron, Michigan, has been in existence for 10 years. It is a basic yet elegantly effective program because it does its job uncommonly well, which is what all new teachers want. New teachers do not want fads; they want solutions. Training new teachers is not brain surgery. It's actually quite "doable." Just do it!

The director of the Port Huron program during all of these years has been Cathy Lozen, and she says,

One-shot staff development meetings do not work. We wanted a sustained program, one where we could keep new teachers close to us for a year, nurture them, and take them step-by-step through the year-and beyond. Then they'd have a really solid foundation about the district, about teaching, and about our expectations. We're kind of a "no-excuses" district; the job of the teacher is to help all students succeed.

The Need for Demonstration Classrooms

Many new teachers receive little more than a quick orientation on school policies and procedures before they begin teaching. And there is often no time in the day-or week, for that matter-allotted for sitting down with colleagues to discuss pedagogical methods, daily dilemmas such as time and classroom management, and coping strategies. Worse yet, new teachers never see another classroom.

"I never sat in anyone else's classroom even once,"
laments first-year teacher Gail A. Saborio of Wakefield,
Rhode Island. "Mine is the only teaching style I know.
I felt that sometimes I was reinventing the wheel."3

Their actions back their philosophy. To start, they have a four-day orientation with the following components:

Day 1
  • New teachers enjoy a welcome breakfast with balloons, flowers, and gifts. This is mostly a day to get acquainted with key staff members.
  • A resource notebook is provided for each teacher.
  • The district hosts a bus tour for the new teachers with a stop at one of the middle schools and tours of three demonstration classrooms.
Day 2
  • The teachers receive The First Days of School4 along with instruction on classroom management and the importance of classroom procedures, rules, and routines.
Day 3
  • Trainers continue the instruction and then lead a "hot topics" discussion of some of the issues that teachers might encounter in the local schools.
Day 4
  • New teachers visit demonstration classrooms. Selected teachers at appropriate grade levels and in appropriate subject areas share their reasoning for certain classroom arrangements.

The four-day training concludes with a discussion of professionalism, professional attire, making a good impression, and the importance of calling parents with positive news. Each teacher is awarded a certificate, a mug, and a "teacher start-up kit" in a tote bag filled with bulletin board borders, letters, a chalk holder, notepads with an apple design, and posters on which classroom procedures can be written. Cathy Lozen reports, "The seminar ends with an emotional 'pep talk,' which really makes you proud of who you are and what career you've chosen."

Port Huron's training and nurturing do not stop after the initial pre-school year four-day training. "Support teachers" are provided and "special-topic seminars" are held monthly during the school year.

A favorable aspect of the Port Huron program is that it was developed in conjunction with the Port Huron Education Association, the area teachers' union. The involvement of the education association with the administration is beneficial for students, colleagues, and administrators. "We model teamwork as a way of achieving mutually desired goals," says Lozen.

At the end of one of the four-day, pre-school year workshops, Lozen returned to her office to find flowers from all the participants and a card thanking those responsible for the workshop. The card read,

"We now feel like welcomed members of the Port Huron family."

Lozen says, "We had become a cohesive and caring group in four days. We all bonded and our district is truly better for it. What a feeling!"

In contrast to the many new teachers who feel helpless and alone, there are no novice teachers working in isolation or unsupported in Port Huron. (See the example of Helga under "She Left as Abruptly as She Came," page 13.) Through its investment in an induction program, Port Huron has reaped unforeseen benefits that have exceeded the expectations of all involved. The district was able to change its culture in about five years. For information contact

Cathy Lozen
Port Huron Area Schools
1925 Lapeer Avenue
Port Huron, MI 48060