The successful transition from probationary teacher to skilled practitioner demands a comprehensive program for the induction of new teachers. Such a program orients the probationary teacher to the school, the district and the community. It goes further by linking professinal development opportunities, school improvement initiatives and appraisal with a mentoring system designed to support the teacher in mastering the art of classroom management, instruction and student assessment.
The induction program also must function within the context of the probationary teacher's working conditions. Successful completion of the probationary period is more likely when the assignment of new teachers considers such factors as the number of preparations, class size, extra-curricular responsibilities and the challenge of the assignment. Successful teachers also count on the sustained support of school administrators, professional colleagues and mentors, resource personnel, professional organizations and the community.
The mentoring program functions within the context of the comprehesive induction system. Its purpose is to pair the probationary teacher with a highly skilled teacher or team of teachers trained in working with peers and providing support. Through the support of a caring, specially trained mentor, the probationary teacher is able to focus on developing his/her instructional skills and utilize the learnings from professional development experiences in improving practice. Mentoring is not an isolated experience, but rather is on-going support, built into the day-to-day activities of the probationary teacher.
Peer assistance is designed to enhance the practice of experienced teachers and aims to help veteran teachers improve their knowledge and skills. A formal peer assistance program links veteran teachers with consulting teachers who provide ongoing support through observing, sharing ideas and skills and recommending materials for further study. Sometimes these consulting teachers assist their collegues in the applicaiton of learnings from professional development opportunities. In other programs, consulting teachers assist those veteran teachers who are experiencing difficulties with their practice. Peer assistance is not considered as a part of teacher evaluation/appraisal and in that way is dfferent from Peer Assistance and Review.