Informing & Inspiring New Teachers a Kappa Delta Pi publication Volume 19, No. 4 KDP Executive Director FAYE SNODGRESS Consulting Editors ADVISORY PANELISTS Managing Editor KAREN L. ALLEN Assistant Editors KATHIE-JO ARNOFF SALLY RUSHMORE LAURIE QUAY Art Director CHUCK JARRELL NSTOY Liaison PEGGY TORDOFF NTA Advisors BERNARD BULL REA KIRK MADELINE KOVARIK JACQUELINE LYDY GINA RILEY STEPHANIE L. SCHAEFER NICHOLAS J. ULIANO MACK WELFORD MICHAEL P. WHITMAN D BY NATHAN BOND CREATING YOUR OWN PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITY During the first year of teaching, the learning curve is steep, and the responsibility level is high. Your duties, in addition to classroom instruction, include implementing the district’s required curriculum and assessments, along with getting acquainted with students, their guardians, and your school colleagues. To assist with these demands, schools often provide an induction program that includes an experienced mentor who can offer emotional support and answer questions. This program also may include ongoing professional development workshops expounding on the school’s specific instructional approaches. Induction programs are important. Research indicates that “beginning teachers who participate in some kind of induction have higher [job] satisfaction, commitment, and retention” (Ingersoll and Strong 2011, 225). Despite these research-backed optimums, formal support systems in some schools may be missing or ineffective. It is up to you, then, to create your own support system. One possibility is a professional learning community (PLC), a network of teachers who “meet regularly for the purpose of increasing their own learning and that of their students” (Lieberman and Miller 2008, 2). When creating your PLC, invite colleagues who want to participate and who will treat others as equals. Though new to the field with busy daily schedules, many educators have successfully implemented PLCs during the induction years (O’Malley 2010). They A Key to First-Year Success: find the flexibility of PLCs suitable to their schedules and preferred communication style. Whatever PLC style you decide to set up, keep in mind the five characteristics of PLCs that Hord and Tobia (2012) found in their studies of practicing teachers: supportive and shared leadership, shared values and vision, intentional collective learning and application of learning, supportive conditions, and shared practice. Supportive, Shared Leadership Before beginning a PLC, share the idea with your principal. Most administrators are excited to have their teachers collaborating, supporting one another, and taking charge of their professional development. This initiative affirms the principal’s decision to hire you and engenders confidence in your abilities as an up-and-coming teacher leader. During the formation stage, work with your colleagues to select a PLC leader. This person does not make all decisions but provides the leadership to ensure well-run meetings. Shared Values, Vision When forming a PLC, it is crucial for joining colleagues to agree that their raison d’être is to improve student learning. Realize that reaching this goal may be difficult at first, because beginning teachers tend to focus on improving their teaching. To expand this focus, challenge yourself to examine student work by administering pre-and post-assessments to determine students’ learning. ISSN 1070-7379 published four times during the school year by Kappa Delta Pi, 3707 Woodview Trace, Indianapolis, IN 46268-1158. Send all subscription orders and editorial correspondence to address above, call 1-800-284-3167, or visit KDP Online at www.kdp.org. Subscription rate: $10.00, members, per year, domestic; $12.00, members, foreign; $12.00, nonmembers, do-mestic; $14.00, nonmembers, foreign. Single copies, $3.50 (+s&h). Third-class bulk permit paid at Columbus, Ohio. Postmaster does not return issue to publisher with address change. Subscriber must send changes to: Kappa Delta Pi, 3707 Woodview Trace, Indianapolis, IN 46268-1158. ©2012 by Kappa Delta Pi. All rights reserved.