Standard 1.1: Role of program leadership
Developing Capacity, Shared Governance, and Commitment
To start a new induction/mentoring program, organizations should create a committee from diverse stakeholders within the community. In a school district, members should ideally include leaders from the district administration, building principals, union officers, and respected teachers. Induction/mentoring programs can also be run by Regional Offices of Education and universities as well as other educational associations in the community. Each organization is unique, and program leaders must be prepared to work within the parameters and constraints of the school culture.
If it is not possible to create such a committee at the beginning of the project, one or two committed people can begin the process. For example, in one Illinois district, two members of the Union Board launched the induction/mentoring program. Once the program was running, these two expanded the leadership team to include administration and teacher leaders. As the committee grew, so did the district’s commitment to the success of the program.
Although the leadership team provides general direction and oversight, day-to-day program operations are typically run by a program coordinator. The coordinator role requires excellent teaching, mentoring, communication, and project management skills, as well as passionate commitment to the induction of beginning teachers. Several districts have found union leaders make good coordinators; others have chosen administrators, retirees, teachers with some (or complete) release time, or aspiring administrators working on their administrative internship. Whether the program is started by one or many, one factor that must be consistent is setting the program’s purpose and putting it in writing. To establish this purpose, programs should answer the following questions both individually and as a leadership team:
- What is the purpose of the induction/mentoring program for the school or district?
- How will team members collaborate to ensure its success and sustainability?
Once these questions have been discussed, the committee can work on goals and set parameters to keep the group focused on their shared purpose. More of this will be discussed in Standard 2, but it is important that the program leadership has a clearly defined vision at the beginning of this process. The Collaborative Leadership Team typically assumes such responsibilities as the following:
- Defining program goals
- Establishing a budget and determining the use of other resources for stipends, release time, substitutes, workshops/trainings, meetings, and professional development
- Identifying and utilizing school strengths
- Conducting a needs assessment when appropriate
- Examining research to substantiate program goals, needs, cost, and effectiveness
- Creating program timelines
- Determining stakeholder roles
- Proposing program decisions to program leadership
- Communicating program information to the superintendent, school board, and other stakeholders
- Conducting an annual self-assessment
- Creating recommendations for program improvement based on the annual self-assessment and other data
- Assisting with the transition of new induction/mentoring program leadership when needed
Alignment to Local Context
Once leadership has been established, the next step for a program is to plan the design of the program, per Standard 2. Successful induction/mentoring programs are best if they are fused with and incorporated within ongoing professional development. Also, the leadership team must be mindful of the context and location of the program.
Whether the school or district is located in an urban, rural, or suburban area may influence design elements. For example, a rural district might have several schools spread out throughout a relatively large geographic area, making it difficult for one mentor leader to run a successful program without site-based assistance. An urban district, on the other hand, might hire as many as fifty beginning teachers every year, making it necessary for them to assure a strong and continuous supply of excellent, trained mentors ready and waiting for assignment. Finally, a mature suburban district might find that the need for beginning teachers varies and calls for variable numbers of mentors. Determining what will best fit with the district or school is an important consideration.