A Design Study to Improve a Teacher Induction Program in a South Texas School District
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High levels of teacher attrition provided one South Texas school district with significant challenges in how to best support new teachers so that they would grow in the profession and want to stay with the district. This dissertation-in-practice (DiP) denotes my experiences as the Director of Curriculum with the development, implementation, and improvement of a teacher induction program in a South Texas school district. The study utilized a developmental research design as a means to improve upon the existing teacher induction program used in the district. The study’s setting was a small school district located in the Coastal Bend region of South Texas. The district had 1,901 students, with 92 percent identified as low socioeconomic, 62 percent identified as at-risk, and had a teacher attrition rate of 33% in 2014-2015. This study was descriptive, aimed at gathering information about pre-existing conditions and the efforts to address teacher attrition through the implementation of a comprehensive teacher induction program. Methods included developmental research design, insider action research, and iterative processes. In addressing the problem of teacher attrition, data revealed that the district in this study had challenges such as frequent leadership turnover, the absence of a guaranteed and viable curriculum, the absence of a comprehensive teacher induction program, and a lack of awareness of profound knowledge as it relates to a comprehensive system of teacher support and development. All of these factors contributed to a higher rate of new teacher attrition than the state average and led to the district facing a revolving door of hiring inexperienced teachers year after year. As a result of the DiP, a structure of practices and processes was identified that resulted in a fundamental shift in teacher induction support. To this end, the study introduces a framework for systemic teacher induction. Additionally, the importance of having a theory of action along with a process for developing one was also discussed as it relates to helping shift mindsets and implement change around comprehensive teacher induction. Further research is warranted in districts that face similar demographics as the South Texas school district in this study to determine if this framework applies to all districts with such demographics or if the practices highlighted in this study are scalable to larger districts.
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