Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Integrating new teachers into an experienced staffroom

This was the title of the fifth in a series of monthly CPD webinars hosted by the British Council.  You can read more about the programme here.

This webinar was presented by Fiona Dunlop and what follows is a summary of what she had to say.

What are the reasons for hiring inexperienced teachers?
  • they are generally enthusiastic and dynamic
  • to bring new blood to a stale staffroom
  • they often have new ideas
  • to develop/invest in them
  • they have no bad habits
  • more experienced teachers may not be available
  • they will often accept short-term contracts
  • it's cost effective
  • they are local
  • for emergency cover
Challenges and drawbacks
  • inexperienced teachers often have unrealistic time and preparation management
  • they can be overwhelmed by a full timetable
  • they may be unable to manage admin demands
  • they could have a lack of language awareness
  • you may be limited as to which courses they can teach
  • the pace of their lessons is often too slow - they are thorough, but tend to pitch to the lower end of the group
  • they may have a lack of cultural awareness
  • they may not be comfortable with firm classroom management and have problems dealing with difficult students
  • there may be a desire to be the students' friend
  • they may be compared to previous teachers
  • they may not gain the students' respect
  • they don't have a bank of ideas at their fingertips which allows them to think on their feet
  • they may not be accepted in the staffroom by more experienced teachers
  • they may get stressed and be unwilling to say they are struggling
Things which are important to remember
  • New teachers are clients of the school and first impressions count - from the first contact, the experience should be as positive and stress-free as possible.
  • You should compare the new teacher's experience to the student's journey.
  • Remember your own first day in a new school - remind yourself how it feels to be 'the new kid on the block'.
  • Treat new teachers as 'internal customers'.  If you treat them well, then they will look after the school's 'external customers' - the students.
  • The staffroom will be energised by the input of a new ideas.  This is the time for more experienced teachers to shine.
  • Your students will benefit from having new staff and the school's reputation will be enhanced.
  • Treating new teachers well also enhances the reputation of the industry.  ELT gets a lot of bad press - it is often seen as a 'stop-gap' before people move in to a 'proper' profession.
Induction for new teachers

A good induction process is vital.  It should be ongoing and it should be revisited.  Here are some of the induction ideas used by Fiona in her role as DoS of the Wimbledon School of English:

Before the contract starts:
  • Arrange a meeting time with the new teacher.
  • Prepare or e-mail induction documents and other necessary policies.  Include a copy of the student handbook and/or school brochure.
  • Check all materials and class handover notes are ready.
  • Arrange a mentor for the new teacher.
  • Organise a desk and/or locker for him or her.
First day/week
  • Have a copy of the induction checklist for you to talk through.
  • Talk through each point on the checklist, allowing time for questions as you go.
  • Take the new teacher on a tour of the school, including the classrooms where they will be teaching.  Remember to point out fire exits.
  • Show them around the teachers' room and explain where to find everything.
  • Introduce them to all staff members by name and job.
  • Provide preparation time.
  • Be available to help where needed.
First week or two of teaching
  • Check lesson plans regularly - even experienced teachers take a while to settle into a new house style.
  • Arrange an informal observation of the new teacher.
  • Arrange for the new teacher to observe their peers.
  • Give observation feedback and do post-induction - this might include a quiz about your institution.
  • Go through the induction checklist again to check for any problems.
  • Arrange the first formal observation to be done by the end of the third teaching week.
  • Record stages on induction spreadsheet.
  • Do formal observation and follow-up.
  • Check plans of work and admin.
  • Check with the new teacher's mentor.
Developmental opportunities for new teachers

  • Don't overwhelm new teachers - give them small, practical pieces of information.
  • Development should happen naturally when checking lesson plans and just by being around the office.
  • Give short practical workshops and try to grade the training and development according to the teacher's level.
  • Do observations and give constructive feedback.
  • Use the British Council CPD handbook.
Developmental observation types

These need to be timetabled in to a new teacher's schedule.
  • Unobserved/blind - plan a detailed lesson (time the planning to avoid over-planning), run through it with the manager, teach the lesson, have a follow-up meeting with the manager to encourage reflective practice.
  • Filmed/recorded - these should be structured.  It's useful to record the students, not the teacher.  It gives a great insight into how a lesson is being received.  Recording is also the best way to make new teachers aware of their TTT.
  • Peer
  • 10 minute - these should be incorporated into the induction programme.
  • Mentor feedback
  • Short burst/repeated theme
You can find more detailed descriptions of observation types here.

Quality assurance observations

These are necessary to the successful running of any school/department and there should be clear, practical policies and procedures set out, including the name of the person who is going to carry them out.

It's important not to over-observe!!

What to look for when doing a QA observation:
  • Preparation
  • Presentation
  • Pitch
  • Pace
  • Staging
  • Achievement of aims
  • Subject matter
  • Error correction
  • Variety
  • Rapport
  • Pronunciation work
  • Use of aids
  • Classroom management
  • Flexibility
  • Learner training
British Council CPD Framework

It has:
  • a handbook for managers
  • a handbook for teachers
  • a framework for CPD
  • a portal with advice, suggestions and video clips
Give a copy of the CPD handbook to new teachers during induction.  It can be used by mentors and teachers together.

Hints for the manager
  • Make sure the induction process is ongoing.
  • Induction should be for everyone regardless of why or for how long they are in the school.
  • Use an induction checklist to make sure nothing gets forgotten.
  • Provide clear guidelines for mentors.
  • Compile FAQs and example scenarios to talk through at induction.
  • Give hints on lesson preparation and provide sample plans - provide time limit guidelines and give teachers the opportunity to prepare together.
  • Provide a bank of last minute lessons and ideas in the teachers' room.
  • Run regular ideas swapshops - immediate and practical.
  • Introduce everyone to each other!  Provide a board with teachers' profiles and photos and a 'come to me for.....' section.
  • Don't assume anything!
  • Provide a survival checklist of admin jobs for the first day/week/month.
  • Arrange 10 minute meetings every Friday with the DoS if possible.
  • Clear systems will set the foundations.
  • Notice the positives new teachers can bring.
  • Remember your first experiences.
  • Retention of staff is good for your school!


  1. Thanks for these great tips. I have a sister who just started out her teaching career and I think these tips will be very helpful for her. I'll let her know about them and see what she has to say about them.