"It is a truism among teachers and especially teacher educators that within the first six months of the first experience of teaching, the teacher will have adopted his or her basic teaching style. Experience indicates that once a teacher's basic teaching style has stabilized, it remains in that form until some other event causes a change, and at the present time, there are not many such events producing change. If the style adapted is a highly effective one and is the source of stimulation and continuous growth, there would be no probem. But if teachers abandon their ideals and become cynical, see management at any price as essential, constrict the range of instruction
alternatives they will try or use; if they become mediocre teachers or minimally competent, then the effect of the transition period on this is a major concern and a problem that needs direct attention."
This quote generates a lot of questions for me. Are there any data to support these "truisms"? Does a strong teacher induction program (i.e. mentoring) really have that strong of an influence on what happens during the first six months? What sorts of "changes" help those who are set in their ways adopt a new style of classroom teaching?
When I think about my time at my current school, there haven't been many brand new teachers. It's been a really long time since I've had any conversations with newbies or thought about what tools teacher education programs are putting in their hands. Are today's teachers any better to prepared the challenges of standards-based education for all students than I was fresh out of college? I really hope the answer is "yes," but I also feel like most of what you learn about teaching happens when you finally have a classroom of your own. It's on-the-job training and somehow, I have to find my own way to support that.
Of course, most of our new teachers these days are not new to adulthood. Many of them have chosen teaching as a second career and will have a wealth of life experience to bring to the table.
I meet with the current coordinator of the mentor program on Tuesday. I know she'll have a lot to share and we'll see what I can do to make things my own. Hopefully, I'll be able to model some flexibility and "continuous growth" in this new role.