New Teacher Induction

Teacher quality is an important school-level factor in student achievement (Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain, 2005) and the focus of ongoing effort by policy makers and practitioners to ensure that all students have effective teachers throughout their school years. New teacher induction is an essential component in teacher development and retention (Ingersoll & Strong, 2011). Teacher induction, defined as inservice support for beginning teachers, is separate from preservice preparation and ideally serves as a bridge linking preservice and inservice education. Common objectives of teacher induction include teacher development, socialization into the profession, assessment of teaching effectiveness, and support in refining practice (Feiman-Nemser, 2001; Ganser, 2002). Although programs vary between schools and context, they typically include a variety of activities such as orientation, classroom support, workshops, collaboration with colleagues, and mentoring (Ingersoll & Strong, 2011).

Tenets of This We Believe addressed:

  • Educators value young adolescents and are prepared to teach them.
  • Students and teachers are engaged in active, purposeful learning.
  • Leaders are committed to and knowledgeable about this age group, educational research, and best practices.
  • Ongoing professional development reflects best educational practices.
  • Organizational structures foster purposeful learning and meaningful relationships.

Teachers often struggle when inducted to the profession without a sufficient transitional period that allows them to practice their teaching skills prior to undertaking the responsibilities the job requires (Ganser, 2002). As a result, first year teachers are, on average, less effective than their more experienced colleagues (Rockoff, 2008). In analysis of data from the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and the Teacher Follow-up Survey, Ingersoll and Merrill (2010) concluded that the majority of teachers are either beginners or nearing retirement. They asserted that the number of retirements will peak by 2012, which will further increase the need for beginning teachers. More than a quarter of teachers are in their first five years of teaching. Thus, the teacher force is on the verge of being expanded, replaced, and re-made (Ingersoll & Merrill, 2010). Therefore, it is beneficial to examine the existing challenges and successful practices to understand fully our work ahead to improve teacher effectiveness and retention. This research summary reviews the literature on teacher retention and mobility, effective induction practices, and specific implications for beginning teachers being inducted in the middle level grades.

Teacher Retention and Mobility

Teaching involves many complex tasks. New teachers, no matter which route of preparation taken, are not fully prepared for their first day of teaching and have a lot to learn. In recent years due to high attrition as well as retirement, the demand for teachers has increased (Ingersoll & Merrill, 2010). Teacher turnover is substantially higher in high poverty schools than it is in suburban schools with low poverty (Boyd, Lankford, Loeb, Ronfeldt, & Wyckoff, 2011; Ingersoll, 2001). Turnover in low performing schools is further compounded by the challenge of filling the vacancies with highly qualified teachers (Boyd et al., 2011). Research studies have documented that teacher shortages are heavily impacted by numerous teachers leaving the profession within the first five years, also referred to as the revolving door (Ingersoll & May, 2011; Ingersoll & Perda, 2010). As teachers continually leave these schools and the education profession altogether, many new teachers are needed, and as such, induction and mentoring offer an avenue to prepare and retain effective teachers.

Researchers note a movement in recent years to improve new teacher induction programs (Wayne, Youngs, & Fleishman, 2005). Nationally, almost two-thirds of teachers reported participating in an induction program during their first year, and 71% had a mentor (Darling-Hammond, Wei, Andree, Richardson, & Orphanos, 2009). Successful programs help teachers understand their roles and guide them to be effective practitioners, which effects teachers’ decisions to stay in their schools and the profession altogether (Johnson & Birkeland, 2003). In contrast, teachers leave schools where they are not supported, feel ill equipped to meet students’ needs, and ultimately, feel ineffective. These conditions are more widespread in low performing schools with high percentages of minority populations (Loeb, Darling-Hammond & Luczak, 2005) and where induction programs are less common (Darling-Hammond et al., 2009). However, high performing schools with high poverty and minority populations also retain effective teachers, which indicates that teacher turnover is more closely related to the environment and support that teachers receive than socioeconomic and ethnic status of the students (Johnson, Kraft, & Papay, 2012). To support beginning teachers and shape effective patterns in their teaching (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004), comprehensive induction programs including individualized mentoring and professional collaboration within a supportive culture are necessary.

Comprehensive New Teacher Induction

According to the Alliance for Excellent Education (2004), only about one percent of teachers actually receive what they deem as comprehensive induction. Comprehensive induction programs are defined as opportunities to collaborate in small learning communities, observe experienced colleagues’ classrooms, be observed by expert mentors, analyze their own practice, and network with other novice teachers (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). Teachers learn about exemplary teaching by seeing what it looks like, talking about it, and experimenting in their own classrooms. Quality induction must sanction time for teachers to be observed and reflect on their own teaching, as well as on their students’ learning (Darling-Hammond et al., 2009).

Teachers are socialized in various ways including the observation of their previous teachers known as the apprenticeship of observation (Lortie, 1975), their preparation programs, and especially their first on-the-job experiences. Teachers often underestimate the demands that will be placed on them in their first year of teaching. As a result, they struggle when the support system is not strong enough to help them implement the ideas and knowledge that they learn in their preparation years (Villani, 2002). The following sections summarize research on effective components of comprehensive induction programs including mentoring, professional collaboration, and the aspects of school environments that impact beginning teachers.


First year teachers are typically focused on developing their practice and do so by gathering information to improve technical skills (Gabriel, 2010). In this crucial developmental stage, research has shown that teachers who were provided a mentor from the same content area, and received support in their first year of teaching, including planning and collaboration with other teachers, were less likely to leave the profession after their first year (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). The guidance of a mentor can support new teachers to make decisions as part of an experienced team, rather than in isolation. Effective mentors use inquiry-based questioning and support meaningful teaching and learning through an analysis of individual needs and goals based on teacher standards (Feiman-Nemser, 2001). Furthermore, Fletcher, Strong, and Villar (2008) established a mentoring-achievement link, noting that more hours of mentoring yielded higher student achievement gains compared with others teachers who spent less time with a mentor. In sum, instructional mentoring is effective when it is consistent and based on an explicit vision of good teaching as well as an understanding of teacher learning (Feiman-Nemser, 2001).

Professional Collaboration

In addition to mentoring, professional collaboration is a key component of a successful induction program. Learning to teach is a process, not solely a function of a teacher preparation program or induction experiences, and teachers need opportunities to continuously learn and improve their practice. Hord and Sommers (2008) argued the best form of professional development includes providing opportunities for reflection on practice to develop teachers’ understanding of content, pedagogy, and learners. In addition to increasing teacher learning and student achievement, professional collaboration further increases teacher job satisfaction (Berry, Daughtrey, & Wieder, 2010). Quality teachers with experience and content knowledge exist in many schools and are often the most untapped resources.

At a time when many schools and teachers feel pressure from national, state, and district mandates to improve test scores, many successful schools are turning to teachers and tapping into their rich knowledge base via professional learning communities (PLCs). PLCs, or teacher study and support groups, operating within the school day can help new teachers collaboratively look at instructional practices and curriculum (DuFour, 2007). These types of structures on the school campus can be helpful for new teachers to receive continual support in developing their curriculum and repertoire of best teaching practices. Such programs can be structured in ways that provide teachers with consistent and meaningful collaboration with colleagues, afford them opportunities for learning, and allow them to be learners alongside their students (Meier, 2002; Metropolitan Life Insurance, 2010).

School Environment

For teachers to do their jobs well, they need supportive school environments where they are valued, trusted, and empowered to collaborate for the purpose of improving instruction (Ingersoll & May, 2011). Research on organizational cultures indicates that schools based on individuality rather than collaboration leave many teachers to sink or swim (Johnson & Birkeland, 2003). On the other hand, when teachers believe administrators are focused on student and teacher success, they feel more positive about school environment and choose to stay. Further, Angelle (2006) found that when new teachers view their instructional leader’s monitoring as supportive, it positively effects their teaching practices and their decision to stay. When instructional leaders support teachers and promote a culture of continual learning by the school community, teachers enjoy their work and are more successful.

Multiple levels of support are necessary and effective in retaining new teachers by building their self-image as competent professionals. Establishing networks of support for teachers, both novice and veteran, can serve as highly effective professional development. Incorporating mentoring, coaching, and critical dialogue in the teacher’s day can increase students’ understanding and achievement, as well as teacher job satisfaction (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004).

Induction in Middle Level Schools

Comprehensive induction programs have strong implications for middle level schools—grade 5 to grade 9—where teachers often lack the specific preparation and experience for their role as a teacher of young adolescents (Jackson & Davis, 2000). Adolescents are dealing with many changes in their bodies, as well as social and emotional issues that can impede their learning if not dealt with appropriately (Van Hoose, Strahan, & L’Esperance, 2001). Teachers who do not have sufficient preparation to adequately organize their classroom and instruction to meet young adolescents’ unique needs are at a disadvantage as they begin their careers.

Jackson and Davis (2000) maintained that middle level schools should be filled with expert teachers who are prepared to teach and advocate for young adolescents during their emotional, social, and academic development. However, some states do not have middle grades licensure, and too few programs specialize in the preparation of middle grades teachers (National Middle School Association, 2006). The lack of specialized licensure and preparation leaves the majority of educators who teach young adolescents ill prepared when they begin their careers to meet young adolescents’ unique developmental needs (McEwin, Dickinson, & Anfara, 2005).

Beginning teachers’ lack of understanding of how to teach young adolescents amplifies frustrations and learning difficulties in the classroom. To circumvent the lack of preparation, many high performing middle schools have resorted to providing inservice workshops for their teachers (Flowers & Mertens, 2003). Successful schools help teachers understand why young adolescents act the way they do and provide strategies to enable them to address their needs. Given that many new teachers, either certified in secondary or elementary, as well as alternatively certified teachers in hard-to-staff areas, lack pedagogical knowledge and strategies to teach early adolescents (National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Education, 2002), it is necessary to provide support for novice teachers that address their specific needs.

In Turning Points 2000, Jackson and Davis (2000) recommended that professional development should focus on “curriculum, instruction, adolescent development, classroom management, assessment, service learning, interdisciplinary teaming, and parent involvement” (p.114) to facilitate high levels of learning for students. Young adolescents are unique and learn best by varied curriculum and instructional strategies that take into account their social, emotional, and developmental needs. New teachers are at a disadvantage if they are unfamiliar with best practices to meet the needs of adolescents.


Teacher retention is a problem in America’s public schools, especially in low income and high minority population areas (Boyd et al., 2011; Stronge, 2007). Additionally, teachers in the middle level may be ill prepared to meet the needs of young adolescents (Jackson & Davis, 2000; McEwin et al., 2005). The lack of preparation and support affect teachers’ beliefs in their ability to do the job they are hired for—in other words, their teacher efficacy (Wolfolk-Hoy, 2000). The obstacles that teachers deal with in many low performing schools include limited resources, support, experience, and lack of specialized preparation or knowledge (Public Education Network, 2005). These factors affect teachers’ desire to remain in teaching and to reach to their potential as professional educators (Boyd et al., 2011; Loeb et al., 2005; Johnson & Birkeland, 2003). Quality teachers are instrumental to the success of our public education; therefore, induction and mentoring programs that meet the needs of beginning teachers are essential components for schools to improve teacher retention and effectiveness (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004).


Alliance for Excellent Education. (2004). Tapping the potential: Retaining and developing high quality teachers. Washington, DC: Author

Angelle, P. (2006). Instructional leadership and monitoring: Increasing teacher intent to stay through socialization. NASSP Bulletin, 90(4), 318–334.

Berry, B., Daughtrey, A., & Wieder, A. (2010). A better system for schools: Developing, supporting and retaining effective teachers. New York and Hillsborough, NC: Teachers Network and the Center for Teaching Quality. Retrieved from

Boyd, D., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., Ronfeldt, M., & Wyckoff, J. (2011). The role of teacher quality in retention and hiring: Using applications-to-transfer to uncover preferences of teachers and schools. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 30(1), 88–110.

Darling-Hammond, L, Wei, R.C., Andree, A., Richardson, N., & Orphanos, S. (2009). Professional learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the U.S. and abroad: Technical report. Dallas: National Staff Development Council and The School Redesign Network at Stanford University.

DuFour, R. (2007). Professional learning communities: A bandwagon, an idea worth considering, or our best hope for high levels of learning? Middle School Journal, 39(1), 4–8.

Feiman-Nemser, S. (2001). Helping novices learn to teach: The role of an exemplary support teacher. Journal of Teacher Education, 52(1), 17–30.

Fletcher, S. H., Strong, M., & Villar, A. (2008). An investigation of the effects of variations in mentor-based induction on the performance of students in California. Teachers College Record, 110, 2271–2289.

Flowers, N., & Mertens, S. B. (2003). Professional development for middle-grades teachers: Does one size fit all? In P. G. Andrews & V. A. Anfara, Jr. (Eds.), Leaders for a movement: Professional preparation and development of middle level teachers and administrators (pp. 145–160). Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

Gabriel, R. (2010). The case for differentiated professional support: Toward a phase theory of professional development. Journal of Curriculum and Instruction, 4(1), 84–93.

Ganser, T. (2002). The new teacher mentors: Four trends that are changing the look of mentoring programs for new teachers. American School Board Journal, 189(12), 25–27.

Hord, S. M., & Sommers, W. A. (2008). Leading professional learning communities: Voices from research and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Ingersoll, R. M. (2001). Teacher turnover and teacher shortages: An organizational analysis. American Educational Research Journal, 38(3), 499–534.

Ingersoll, R., & May, H. (2011). Recruitment, retention, and the minority teacher shortage. Philadelphia, PA: Consortium for Policy Research in Education, University of Pennsylvania and Center for Educational Research in the Interest of Underserved Students, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Ingersoll, R., & Merrill, L. (2010). Who’s teaching our children? Educational Leadership. 67(8), 14–20.

Ingersoll, R., & Perda, D. (2010). How high is teacher turnover and is it a problem? Philadelphia: Consortium for Policy Research in Education, University of Pennsylvania.

Ingersoll, R., & Strong, M. (2011). The impact of induction and mentoring programs for beginning teachers: A critical review of the research. Review of Education Research. Summer 2011.

Jackson, A.W., & Davis, G. A. (2000). Turning points 2000: Educating adolescents in the 21st century. New York, NY & Westerville, OH: Teachers College Press & National Middle School Association.

Johnson, S. M., & Birkeland, S. (2003). Pursuing a “sense of success”: New teachers explain their career decisions. American Educational Research Journal, 40(3), 581–617

Johnson, S. M., Kraft, M. A., & Papay, J. P. (2012). How context matters in high-need schools: The effects of teachers’ working conditions on their professional satisfaction and their students’ achievement. Teachers College Record, 114(10).

Loeb, S., Darling-Hammond, L., & Luczak, J. (2005). How teaching conditions predict teacher turnover in California schools. Peabody Journal of Education, 80(3), 44–70.

McEwin, C. K., Dickinson, T. S., & Anfara, V. A., Jr. (2005). The professional preparation of middle level teachers and principals. In V. A. Anfara, Jr., G. Andrews, & S. B. Mertens (Eds.), Encyclopedia of middle grades education (pp. 59–67). Greenwich, CT & Westerville, OH: Information Age & National Middle School Association.

Meier, D. (2002). The power of their ideas: Lessons from a small school in Harlem. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Metropolitan Life Insurance. (2010). The MetLife Survey of the American teacher, collaborating for student success, Part 1: Effective teaching and leadership. New York, NY: Author.

National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Education. (2002). Teacher preparation, licensure and recruitment. Newton, MA: Author.

National Middle School Association. (February, 2006). Position statement on the professional preparation of middle level teachers. Retrieved from

Public Education Network. (2005). The voice of the new teacher. Washington, DC: Author.

Rivkin, S. G., Hanushek, E. A., & Kain, J. F. (2005). Teachers, schools, and academic achievement. Econometrica, 73(2), 417–458.

Rockoff, J. E. (2008). Does mentoring reduce turnover and improve skills of new employees? Evidence from teachers in New York City. Working Paper 13868, Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.

Smith, M., & Ingersoll, R. M. (2004). What are the effects of induction and mentoring on beginning teacher turnover? American Education Research Association, 42(3), 681–715.

Stronge, J. H. (2007). Qualities of effective teachers (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Van Hoose, J., Strahan, D., & L’Esperance, M. (2001). Promoting harmony: Young adolescent development and school practices. Columbus, OH: National Middle School Association.

Villani, S. (2002). Mentoring programs for new teachers: Models of induction and support. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Wayne, A. J., Youngs, P., & Fleishman, S. (2005). Research matters: Improving teacher induction. Educational Leadership, 63(8), 76–78.

Wolfolk-Hoy, A. (2000, April). Changes in teacher efficacy during the early years of teaching. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.

Annotated References

Feiman-Nemser, S. (2001). Helping novices learn to teach: The role of an exemplary support teacher. Journal of Teacher Education, 52(1), 17–30.

In this article, Feiman-Nemser provided a model of mentoring termed “educative” mentoring, which is described as a supportive practice for new teachers, based on an explicit vision of good teaching and an understanding of teacher learning. Educative mentoring is an inquiry-based model of questioning and support that is deliberately focused on meaningful teaching and learning based on teachers’ goals. Feiman-Nemser found that the guidance of a veteran can allow new teachers to make decisions as part of an experienced team, rather than in isolation.

Johnson, S. M., & Birkeland, S. (2003). Pursuing a “sense of success”: New teachers explain their career decisions. American Educational Research Journal, 40(3), 581–617.

In their longitudinal study that included interviews with 50 beginning teachers, Johnson and Birkeland investigated factors in teachers’ decisions to stay in their schools, move to new schools, or leave teaching altogether. While career intentions, financial circumstances, and preparation played a role in their decisions, the biggest indicator of whether or not teachers stayed in their schools was the experience in the school. Johnson and Birkeland found that when teachers felt successful with their students and their schools had a positive and collaborative culture, they were more likely to stay in their schools.

Smith, T. M., & Ingersoll, R. M. (2004). What are the effects of induction and mentoring on beginning teacher turnover? American Education Research Association, 42(3), 681–715.

Smith and Ingersoll examined data from the nationally representative 1999-2000 Schools and Staffing Survey to examine the effectiveness of a range of induction activities for new teachers. The results indicated that a range of activities impacted teachers’ decisions to remain teaching. Induction experiences such as engaging with a mentor from the same content area and planning and collaborating with other teachers increased teachers’ likelihood of staying in their school and profession after the first year.

Villani, S. (2002). Mentoring programs for new teachers: Models of induction and support. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

In this book, Villani offered an overview of research on teacher retention and best practices for new teachers. She explored relevant issues including new teacher induction, program design, and funding of programs including grants and district and state resources. The bulk of the book, however, detailed a variety of models developed that reflect the needs of specific districts, universities, and individual schools to support new teachers. Villani supported the use of program developers in designing a mentoring and induction program. The detailed samples provide examples of effective programs to meet diverse needs.

Recommended Resources

Fletcher, S., Watkins, A., Gless, J., & Villarreal-Carmen, T. (2011). Partnerships for new teacher learning: A guide for universities and school districts. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Johnson, S. M. (2004). Finders and keepers: Helping new teachers survive and thrive in our schools. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Johnson, S. M., Kardos, S. M., Kauffman, D., Liu, E. & Donaldson, M. L. (2004). The support gap: New teachers’ early experiences in high-income and low-income schools. Educational Policy Analysis Archives, 12(61). Retrieved from

Portner, H. (2002). Being mentored: A guide for protégés. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Villani, S. (2002). Mentoring programs for new teachers: Models of induction and support. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Wong, H. K. (2005). New teacher induction: The foundation for comprehensive, coherent, and sustained professional development. In H. Portner (Ed.), Teacher mentoring and induction: The state of the art and beyond (pp. 41–59). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.


Kathryn L. Martin is a curriculum coach in the Hawaii Department of Education and an advisor in the Middle Level M.Ed. (MLMED) program at the University of Hawaii Manoa. She is a former middle school language arts teacher and continues to support teachers on the leeward coast of Hawaii in curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The focus of Dr. Martin’s research agenda is the induction and retention of effective teachers in high poverty and ethnically diverse schools.


Martin, K. (2012). Research summary: New teacher induction. Retrieved [date] from

This research summary was approved by the AMLE Board of Trustees, May 2012.