Report From A New Teacher Induction
Conference: Shaping State Policy

by Raymond Dagenais, Illinois Math & Sci. Academy, Auror, IL. USA

Many voices spoke as one this past October (1996). The issue under discussion was the induction of new teachers into the profession, especially for the State of Illinois. Currently Illinois has no state-mandated or state supported program for support of novice teachers. The issue was the focus of discussion by representatives from:

The representatives from these groups worked together for more than a year to focus attention on the challenges of helping people new to the profession cope with the accountabilities and responsibilities of becoming a teacher. The culmination of this work was the "New Teacher Induction: Collaboration for Success" Conference held at Northern Illinois University of October 6, 1995. Nearly 200 participants came to listen and to share their views of this crucial topic.

The day opened with a keynote address by William Ayers, associate professor at the University of Illinois Chicago Campus. Through stories of personal experience and reference to the expanding research base in this area, Dr. Ayers set the stage for the dynamic interactions that took place on this day. Morning and afternoon concurrent sessions covered theoretical and philosophical groundings of new teacher induction and examples of practical applications of these foundational beliefs. A specially designed luncheon session offered table seating arrangements for participants interested in discussing topics related to new teacher induction while finishing their meals.

The conference concluded with an Illinois State Board of Education perspective and status report by Brenda Hefner, Sally Ruth, and Anna Austin on current views of teacher certification and new teacher induction issues.

Participant evaluations rated the importance of the topic of new teacher induction at a 9.63 level and the value of this conference at a 9.13 level on a 1-10 point scale. The anticipation and enthusiasm that conference participants exhibited mirrored the behaviors of individuals new to the teaching role. The combination of the conference topic and the collaborative efforts of the participating organizations have refocused attention on new teacher induction.

In addition, action on the issue of new teacher induction is currently under consideration by the Illinois State Board of Education. In a proactive attempt to inform the decisions of State Board officials and lawmakers on this issue, the Illinois Staff Development Council, along with the other organizational members of this collaborative initiative have drafted guidelines for new teacher induction efforts. These guidelines, based upon the cumulative experience of the collaborating organizations and a focused review of the research in this area, were presented to the Illinois State Board of Education for its consideration.

This event was truly a "not to be missed" professional development opportunity. Such collaboration is an example of the outreach efforts of the Illinois Staff Development Council as it strives to address its mission of providing leadership and support which enhance the professional growth of educators who are responsible for staff development.

Reprinted with permission from "Developments", the Illinois Staff Development Council Newsletter

A note: The "Guidelines for New Teacher Induction" paper described above in fact, became a major focus of discussion when the Illinois State Board of Education convened a New Teacher Induction Advisory Group to develop recommendations for legislation on induction in Illinois. As of the date of this writing, April 3, 1998, that Advisory group has been suspended, due to recent state legislation on certification. The group is meeting with the a representative of the ISBE on April 17, 1998, to discuss its role in further work on induction in Illinois.