Skills of Independence
Sitting in her office just a few miles north of the California-Oregon
border, Kathy McCollum agrees that teacher induction programs
go a long way toward filling the gaps left by university
"We felt we had to give our first-year teachers some
kind of groundwork because we felt they werent getting
exactly what we wanted them to have in the colleges and
universities," says Ms. McCollum, who coordinates staff
development programs for the Medford School District in
"We determined that teachers were teaching these beautiful
lessons, but in many cases, the students were not on task.
The behavior, the interaction wasnt there. So, we
got together and decided we really needed to pursue the
area of classroom management. Once classroom management
was tightened up, then we could transfer over and begin
concentrating on instructional strategies."
Thus, the Medford induction program is a three year program:
- Year 1: Classroom management
- Year 2: Instructional strategies (You cant instruct
until you have management)
- Year 3: Peer group coaching (The new teachers can now
help othersall within three years)
Year 1 of the new teacher induction in Medforda community
of 11,000 students served by 14 elementary schools and four
secondary schoolsstresses "Skills of Independence."
"It is based on procedures: how to sharpen your pencil
without poking people, how to line up productively, how
to hand in your papers, how to come into class and get ready
to learn," Ms. McCollum explains. "All these things
are procedures, or in our district, skills of independence."
The techniques shared with new teachers cover approximately
90 percent prevention of classroom problems and about 10
Each Fall, the Medford Staff Development Program publishes
a manual listing a variety of staff development offerings
on such topics as developing self-reliance and self-control
in students, conflict resolution, and dealing with difficult
Ms. McCollum arranges for a team of approximately 20 peer
coaches to work with new teachers throughout the course
of their first year, capped by a "de-briefing session"
at the end of the year to discuss specific techniques (both
good and bad) seen in the classroom throughout the year.
"Its more or less a dialogue about classroom
management," she says. "And the principals are
telling us they are so impressed. They think the classroom
management is better than its ever been. They feel
the prevention is there and teachers arent just intervening
all the time."
Second-year teachers take their training in instructional
strategies, while third-year teachers are trained in peer
coaching and pair with other third-year teachers to receive
feedback on both classroom management and instructional
Further, teacher training is supplemented by school-wide
discipline plans developed at each school.
For teachers with classroom experience who are new to Medford,
Ms. McCollum takes a different approach.
"The hardest audience we have are teachers new to our
district who have taught in other districts," she says.
"But we still require all new teachersall teachers
new to Medfordto go through this program. Even though
they have some of the same concepts, were sure that
it has not been emphasized as clearly as it is in Medford."
She has tackled veterans reluctance making them peer
coaches as soon as they complete the induction program.
Also as an incentive, new teachers are paid almost $29 per
hour to participate in induction; veteran teachers are given
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