Novice Teachers Benefit from Coaching Focused on Lesson Design & Scaffolding Strategies

There is an urgent need to bridge the divide between the knowledge and skill sets of novice and expert teachers. For too long the vast majority of pre-service programs have failed to address the core competencies of the profession, focused as they are upon ivory tower approaches and research rather than the practical skills and tools new teachers need in order to do their work well. Novice teachers are let loose into classrooms across the nation expected to perform the same duties as their more veteran and competent counterparts armed with little more than bright expectations and a desire to improve society. Unfortunately when new teachers arrive at the schoolhouse they seldom find any targeted supports to address their specific needs. In recent years, many states have sought to address the needs of novice teachers through induction programs in which novices are paired with a more expert mentor teacher. This Action Research project is firmly grounded in the Reach PTAR or Plan, Teach, Analyze, Reflect, inquiry cycle induction model in which novice teachers are paired with an expert mentor who supports their growth over a period of two years as they work towards their California Clear Teaching Credential. A review of the literature on how best to improve the capacity of novice teachers as well as observations and discussions at Oakland Triumph Institute (‘OTI’) indicated that the most high leverage area of professional practice that would quickly yield the biggest improvement is in the area of lesson planning. This action research sought to improve the ability of novice teachers to scaffold lessons in order to deepen student engagement with the curriculum and improve learning for all students. The findings of the project detailed in this paper indicate that targeted professional development reinforced by coached Reach PTAR cycles improves the instructional planning capacities, the moment to moment delivery of instruction and the novice teacher’s sense of efficacy and success.

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