Vivian Gunn Morris and Curtis Morris, NATIONAL FORUM JOURNALS, Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Editor-in-Chief, www.nationalforum.com
NATIONAL FORUM OF APPLIED EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH JOURNALVOLUME 26, NUMBERS 1 & 2, 201317Improving the Academic Achievement of African AmericanChildren:The Roles of Principals in Teacher Induction andMentoringVivian Gunn Morris, PhDProfessorUniversity of MemphisCurtis Morris, MSMemphis City Schools-Retired_____________________________________________________________________________AbstractThe purpose of this study was to present the responsibility of K-12 principals in improving theacademic achievement of African American children via the roles that principals must play inhigh quality induction and mentoring programs for novice teachers in their schools. Researchdata were gathered from an induction and mentoring program conducted in a large, urban,predominately African American school district in the southeast. The primary research questionwas: What are some of the teaching and learning conditions new teachers communicated werepresent in their school environments, during their first year of teaching, which could assist inensuring that African American children achieve at high academic levels? To answer thisquestion, the researchers analyzed the responses to two, open-ended questions from a largersurvey that addressed teaching and learning conditions in the 35 schools where 67 first-yearelementary teachers were employed: (a) what are the most valuable features of your supportprogram? and (b) at your site, what are the most challenging working conditions? Results weresummarized and related to findings in the literature relative to the changing roles of principals ininduction and mentoring programs and the connection to improving the academic outcomes ofAfrican American children. Findings indicated the presence of teaching and learning conditionsin the target schools that could assist in promoting positive academic outcomes, while otherconditions may interfere with improving the educational outcomes of students enrolled in K-12classrooms.Keywords: African American children, instructional leadership, induction and mentoring,teaching and learning conditions, achievement gap, roles of principals______________________________________________________________________________The purpose of this article is to present the responsibility of K-12 principals in improvingthe academic achievement of African American children via the roles that principals must play inhigh quality induction and mentoring programs for novice teachers in their schools. This articleis based on research data gathered from an induction and mentoring program conducted in alarge, urban, predominately African American school district in the southeast. The primaryresearch question was: What are some of the teaching and learning conditions new teachers
VIVIAN GUNN MORRIS and CURTIS MORRIS18communicated were present in their school environments, during their first year of teaching,which could assist in ensuring that African American children achieve at high academic levels?To answer this question, the researchers analyzed the responses to two, open-ended questionsfrom a larger survey that addressed teaching and learning conditions in the 35 schools where 67first-year elementary teachers were employed:What are the most valuable features of your support program?At your site, what are the most challenging working conditions?This article is organized into four major sections. First, the related literature includesinformation on the responsibility for the achievement gap between white and African Americanchildren, the promises of NCLB to eliminate the achievement gap, and the roles of principals ininduction and mentoring programs. Second, a description of the study is presented and third, asummary of findings and discussion. The final section of the paper presents conclusions andrecommendations.Related LiteratureThe Achievement Gap between White and African American Children: Who isResponsible?The blame game of responsibility for the achievement gap (based currently onstandardized achievement tests) that exists between white children and African Americanchildren and other children of color in this country has shifted between families, teachers andcolleges of education. First, it was the African American family background that was the primarycause of school failure of their children. This belief had widespread approval (and still does)among policymakers, researchers, administrators and the public following the publication of theEquality of Educational Opportunity study or Coleman Report in 1966. So the conclusion wasthat African American families needed to change in order to improve the educational outcomesof their children. The Coleman study influenced the widespread belief that, ―a student‘s familybackground is far more important than school social composition and school resources forunderstanding student outcomes‖ (Borman& Dowling, 2010, p. 1201). However, researchstudies conducted primarily by African American scholars over the past three decades, revealthat during both the slavery and legal segregation periods in our country, African Americanfamilies sacrificed life and limb to educate their children. And in many cases family andcommunity efforts were very effective in educating their children well (Anderson, 1988; Celeski,1994; Dempsey &Noblit, 1996; Edwards, 1996; Foster, 1997; Morris, 2008; Morris & Morris,2000, 2002, 2005; Sowell, 1976; Walker, 1996, 2000).Using a new model for analyzing the original data from the Coleman study, Borman andDowling (2010) arrived at some different conclusions that refute the findings of the Colemanstudy. Instead, they report that schools do matter in achievement outcomes based on thecharacteristics of the schools attended. Their research suggests that: ―going to a high-povertyschool or a highly segregated African American school has a profound effect on a student‘sachievement outcomes, above and beyond the effect of individual poverty or minority status‖ (p.1202). They also state that:
VIVIAN GUNN MORRIS and CURTIS MORRIS19Rather than the all-too-familiar summary of the Coleman‘s report findings that ―schoolsdon‘t matter,‖ this analysis suggests that both within-school interactions among studentsand educators and racial segregation across schools deny African American childrenequality of educational opportunity. (p. 1242)Research conducted by Konstantopoulos and Borman (2011) underscore these findings. Theyreport that: ―both racial and socioeconomic segregation is associated with poorer academicperformance. High minority and poor schools explain a great deal of the between schoolvariation in achievement‖ (p. 124).While families continue to be blamed for their children‘s failure in schools, a great dealof the blame has shifted to classroom teachers with the once yearly high-stakes, standardized testscore used as the primary tool for making the decision to hire or fire a teacher and/or todetermine whether a teacher is effective. Policymakers, administrators and government officialsare using the findings from reports like those completed by the National Commission onTeachers and American’s Future (Darling-Hammond, 1997; Report, 2003, 1996) and otherresearch studies (Rivkin, Hanushek, &Kain, 2005; Sanders & Rivers, 1996) to justify usingupwards of 50% of teachers‘ annual evaluation based on the standardized test scores of childrenenrolled in their classrooms. While teachers matter very much, principals, superintendents, andcentral office personnel (and teachers who do not teach reading or mathematics) are not presentlysubject to such high-stakes accountability. Wahlstrom, Louis, Leithwood, and Anderson (2010),noted that:Leaders in education—including state-level officials, superintendents and district staff,principals, school board members, teachers and community members enacting variousleadership roles—provide direction for, and exercise influence over, policy and practice.Their contributions are crucial, our evidence shows, to initiatives aimed at improvingstudent learning. (p. 5)Wahlstrom et al. further argue that: ―leadership is second only, to classroom instruction amongall school-related factors that contribute to what students learn at school‖ (p. 6). Support for thisfinding related to principals and academic achievement was also found in a study by Brown,Benkovitz, Muttillo, and Urban (2011). Equitable achievement outcomes arebetter in schools where principals support, model, and monitor a teamwork approach, abalanced approach, a strong sense of purpose, and an insistent disposition to assure thatall students are served well and that all are encouraged to perform at their highest level.(p. 58)Baker et al. (2010) point out that there are multiple sources related to student learning(and tests scores). Education is both a cumulative and complex process, and makes it impossibleto distinguish the influences of students‘ other teachers, school conditions and out-of-schoollearning experiences on their learning at home. They further noted that the types of supports thatare available to children within the school environment can also have significant impact onachievement outcomes. ―A teacher who works in a well-resourced school with specialistssupports may appear to be more effective than one whose students do not receive these supports‖
VIVIAN GUNN MORRIS and CURTIS MORRIS20(p. 9).Because African American children and other children of color are more likely to attendpoorly-resourced schools lacking needed materials, books, equipment and resource people,teachers are less likely to be drawn to these schools initially or to remain in these schools oncethey are hired. These are teaching and learning conditions that serve as disincentives for teacherto work with students who are often in need of the most effective teachers (Baker et al., 2010).Colleges of education across the country are being challenged by individuals outside ofteacher education who state that teacher preparation programs are responsible for the schoolfailures of P-12 children because they are not effective at training teachers (Ballou, &Podgursky,2000; Barnett &Amrein-Beardsley, 2011; Butin, 2004; Darling-Hammond, 2000). In someinstances, the standardized test scores of students enrolled in the classes of their graduates arebeing used by some as the single measure of colleges‘ effectiveness in preparing good teachers,often with little or no consideration of the impact of teaching and learning conditions in theschools where graduates are employed. However, Cherian and Daniel (2008) reported there isevidence to support the fact that ―new teachers are more influenced by the context and support intheir initial school settings than by teacher preparation programs‖ (p. 2).Perhaps, instead of shifting blame from one institution or entity in our community toanother, we should use our efforts to work together to build on what each already doeseffectively. Families and communities, school personnel, teacher preparation programs, local,state and national policymakers and philanthropic organizations have a collective responsibilityto use what we already know--and we know a lot-- and are able to do in creating effectiveschools for all of our children. We have the potential to lose too many children if we do not,especially African American children and other children of color.Currently, many African American children and other children of color attend large,segregated, urban schools where they are in the majority. A recent report (Orfield, Kucsera, &Siegel-Hawley, 2012) indicated that segregation of schools for African Americans and Latinoshas increased dramatically ―since a 1991 Supreme Court decision made it easier for schooldistricts and courts to dismantle desegregation plans‖ (p. 7). The sentiment of some principalsand veteran teachers in these schools create a culture that is antithetical to encouraging academicoptimism within the school community. The remarks that were made by a new teacher, based onmessages communicated by administrators, including principals, and veteran teachers in herschool building, may be more typical than we want to admit.Low turnout for back-to-school night was seen as evidence that families in thiscommunity didn‘t value education. When she spoke with colleagues about calling astudent‘s parent, she was advised that it would be a waste of time and could even causemore trouble—she was told that many parents were drug abusers or alcoholics and werelikely to beat their children. Many African-American parents were described as hostile,disinterested, and unhelpful. She soon picked up the subtext used to describe thecommunity as uneducated, lazy, and dangerous. The media reinforced these perceptions.Teachers were encouraged to drive straight to school, lock away their belongings, andleave immediately after the last bell rang. (Fletcher, Watkins, Gless, & Villarreal-Carman, 2011, p. 58)
VIVIAN GUNN MORRIS and CURTIS MORRIS21The Promises of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) to Close the Achievement GapThe authors of NCLB Act proposed the following actions that have the potential to makea positive impact on the academic achievement of African American children: meeting theeducational needs of low-achieving children in our nation‘s highest-poverty schools; closing theachievement gaps especially between minority and nonminority students; making resourcessufficiently available to local educational agencies and schools where needs are the greatest;making enriched and accelerated educational programs for all children; increasing studentachievement by providing Highly Qualified teachers, principals and assistant principals in everyschool; providing mentoring for teachers, professional development and reduced class schedules(No Child Left Behind, 2001).One of the provisions was to provide ―Highly Qualified‖ teachers, principals andassistant principals in every school. However,African American students are twice as likely as white students to be assigned to the leasteffective teachers, the most inexperienced teachers, and teachers who are likely to beuncertified and teach subjects in which they are not qualified to teach. (Irvine & Irvine,2007, p. 301)In addition, African American children are more likely to be enrolled in schools where there is ahigh rate of teacher turnover. A recent studysuggests that teacher turnover has a significant and negative impact on studentachievement in both math and ELA (English Language Arts) and teacher turnover isparticularly harmful to the achievement of students in schools with large populations oflow-performing and black students. (Ronfeldt, Loeb, &Wyckoff, J., 2012,p. 21)Other promised efforts to improve the improvement of academic achievement of allchildren by 2014 included providing mentoring to teachers, professional development, andreduced class schedules. One of the most significant and powerful strategies for providingeffective professional development for new teachers is via a high-quality induction andmentoring program which encompasses the features noted by Wei, Darling-Hammond, andAdamson (2010). A recent comprehensive longitudinal study (Glazerman et al., 2010) revealedthe significant impact of effective mentoring on student outcomes. Based on findings from thisstudy, Goldrick (2010) stated that ―beginning teachers who received two years of comprehensiveinduction support produced greater student learning gains—equivalent of a student moving fromthe 50th to 58th percentile in math achievement and 50th to 54 percentile in readingachievement‖ (p. 1). Wei et al. (2010) stated that: ―Teachers in suburban schools weresignificantly more likely to participate in an induction program than teachers in urban and ruralschools,‖ and ―teachers in schools with the highest proportions of minority enrollment weresignificantly less likely to participate in induction and mentorship programs than all otherschools‖ (p. 30). Haycock (2012) noted that : ―An awful lot of our teachers—even brand newteachers—are left to figure out on their own what to teach and what constitutes ‗good enough‘work‖ (p. 122 ). In addition to some new teachers not having the benefit of an induction andmentoring program for their first critical years, few induction programs provide data about thequality of the programs that they do have (Darling-Hammond, Wei, Andree, Richardson,
VIVIAN GUNN MORRIS and CURTIS MORRIS22&Orphanos, 2009). The most recent Met Life Survey (2012) indicated that 63% of the teacherssurveyed reported that class sizes have increased in the last year instead of class loads beingreduced, one of the promises of the NCLB Act (Markow&Pieters, 2012).The NCLB Act promised to make resources sufficiently available to local educationalagencies and schools where needs are the greatest. Baker et al. (2010) remind us that becauseAfrican American children and other children of color are more likely to attend poorly-resourcedschools lacking needed materials, books, equipment and resource people, teachers are less likelyto be drawn to these schools initially or to remain in these schools once they are hired. These areteaching and learning conditions that serve as disincentives for teachers to work with studentswho are often in need of the most effective teachers.This discussion included a few of the actions proposed by the NCLB Act in ordertoaccomplish the goal requiring all public school students to be proficient in reading and math by2014. It appears that many of these actions have not taken place in schools inhabited by a largemajority of African American children and other children of color in this nation nor have manyof these students benefitted from these actions, even if they were enrolled in schools where theywere not in the majority. Our public schools are continuing to fail to provide African Americanand other children of color an equal education.While lawmakers, national and state officials, and educators and policy makers raved atthe potential of the NCLB for ensuring a quality education for all students, in 2012, states arestanding in line seeking waivers from the law because they now realize that the United States isnot close to the law‘s original goal of getting children to grade level in reading and math by2014. According to a report of the Center on Education Policy, more schools are failing to meetrequirements under the law with nearly half not doing so in last academic year. By February2012, 37 of the nation‘s 50 states had applied for waivers to be relieved of meeting the mandatesof NCLB by 2014 (Feller &Hefling, 2012; ―26 More States,‖ 2012). It is expected that most ofthe remaining 13 states will follow this same pattern of requesting waivers before the end of theyear. Haycock (2012) reminded us that when compared to the other 33 OECD (Organisation forEconomic Cooperation and Development) countries in education, the only place that we rankhigh is in inequality.The Changing Roles of Principals in Induction and Mentoring ProgramsIn today‘s schools, ―the principal‘s role has changed from ‗bells, buildings, and buses‘ toone of instructional leadership‖ (―Teaching and Leadership,‖ 2012, p. 19). Findings from a twoyear study in Seattle indicate that the ―school principal is critical in ensuring academicachievement, especially for black and low-income students‖ (Andrew &Soder, 1987, p. 8). Theyfurther noted that ―teacher perceptions of the principal as an instructional leader are critical to thereading and mathematics achievement of students‖ (p. 11).In a study of schools with small achievement gaps (SG) between whites and AfricanAmerican students as compared with schools with large achievement gaps (LG), the researchersreported that SG principals ―were directly involved in offering the teachers instructionalfeedback and support‖ (Brown, Benkovitz, Muttilo, & Urban, 2011, p. 13). Brown et al. furthernoted that:These principals viewed teaching as a continuous endeavor and modeled this byparticipating in and/facilitating professional developing opportunities on-site via staff
VIVIAN GUNN MORRIS and CURTIS MORRIS23meetings. One principal explained, ―I think when I attend a workshop, that says to thestaff, that I think learning is important. …I participate, and I sit side-by-side with themand learn with them‖ (SGS2-P). In order for principals to be instructional leaders andprovide teachers with specific feedback, they have to not only know the curriculum butalso understand the instructional methods that teachers use to ensure students arelearning. (p. 13)These actions are very different from what many principals practice in their own buildings. Toooften, they are far removed from the professional development in which their teachers areinvolved whether it‘s on-site or at large impersonal sessions offered for all teachers by the schooldistrict.Induction and mentoring programs are typically professional development programsprovided for beginning teachers for one to three years. The major responsibility for induction andmentoring programs often lies with the principal who in some cases may delegate ongoingactivities within the school building to veteran teachers. What then does high quality professionaldevelopment look like for both new and veteran teachers? Wei et al. (2010) reported that highquality professional development is:focused on specific curriculum content and pedagogies needed to teach that contenteffectively; offered as a coherent part of a whole school reform effort, with assessments,standards, and professional development seamlessly linked; designed to engage teachersin active learning that allows them to make sense of what they learn in meaningful ways;presented in an intensive, sustained, and continuous manner over time; linked to analysisof teaching and student learning, including the formative use of assessment data;supported by coaching, modeling, observation, and feedback; and connected to teachers‘collaborative work in school-based professional learning communities and learningteams. (pp. 1-2)Susan Moore Johnson and her associates at the Harvard Project on the Next Generationof Teachers (Johnson &Birkeland, 2003; Johnson et al., 2007) revealed that there are severalteaching and learning conditions, including mentoring, that must be present in order to retainnew teachers in the profession. School leaders must ensure that new teachers have: anappropriate assignment, a manageable workload, sufficient resources with which to teach,principals and fellow teachers that maintain a stable and orderly work environment, and adviceand support from principals and colleagues (or mentoring). Principals have great influence overmany of the teaching and learning conditions noted by Johnson and Associates. Many of theseteaching and learning conditions were addressed in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001(NCLB).Description of StudyMethods and AnalysisThe study was guided by one major research question: What are some of the teaching andlearning conditions new teachers communicated were present in their school environments,
VIVIAN GUNN MORRIS and CURTIS MORRIS24during their first year of teaching, which could assist in ensuring that African American childrenachieve at high academic levels? To answer this question, the researchers analyzed theresponses to two, open-ended questions from a larger survey that addressed teaching andlearning conditions in the target schools:What are the most valuable features of your support program?At your site, what are the most challenging working conditions?The respondents were 67 first-year, elementary teachers from 35 different schools,employed in a predominately African American school district, who completed an anonymoussurvey near the close of their first year of teaching. Eighty-nine percent were female, 56% wereAfrican American, and 41% were white. These teachers received induction and mentoringsupport through a school district-university partnership located in the southeastern United States.Five exemplary veteran teachers, trained as full-time mentors/coaches, provided on-site supportfor 15 teachers (in the classrooms of the mentored teachers) for approximately two hours perweek. In addition, mentors scheduled a once per month group seminar on topics identified by thenew teachers in the partnership.The findings from this study are discussed within a framework outlined by Johnson andBirkeland (2003) related to the kinds of teaching and learning conditions that must be present inthe school environment in order for new teachers to be successful in increasing the academicachievement of children enrolled in their classrooms. A constant comparative method of dataanalysis was used to analyze the responses from the two opened questions, from the original dataset, to determine the themes that emerged.Findings and DiscussionTeaching and Learning Conditions for First Year TeachersMost valuable aspects of support program.The overwhelming responses made by firstyear teachers about the most valuable aspects of the support program were related to the servicesprovided by the full-time release mentors. The first year teachers reported that the mentors: 1)provided emotional support; 2) were readily accessible to them to meet their needs; 3)encouraged them; 4) and provided professional expertise.Emotional support.It appears that the mentors in this study had built trustingrelationships with the new teachers and had assured them of confidentiality in their relationship.This was evident when new teachers reported that emotional support was one of the mostvaluable aspects of their program. Some teachers made short remarks such as: ―Just havingsomeone to talk to about your problems‖; ―she is the only person that has helped me get settledin Metro Schools,‖ ―Having someone who can help prevent problems before they happen andsomeone who can guide you through your first year‖; and ―Some days I just needed to hear that Iam not the only one that has had a rotten first year.‖Many new teachers expressed having a great deal of stress and anxiety because of theunexpected and overwhelming responsibilities they experienced during their first year. Someteachers in this study made responses that indicated that the work of the mentor was very
VIVIAN GUNN MORRIS and CURTIS MORRIS25important in relieving stress that they were experiencing. One teacher‘s response was simply―Being able to talk to my mentor and distress‖ was the most valuable aspect of the supportprogram.Accessibility.When new teachers (or any teacher) need assistance, they want thatassistance delivered in a timely manner, not weeks or months after requested or even when aprofessional development workshop is already scheduled for six months or next year. Newteachers‘ responses in this study appear to indicate that the mentors were readily accessible tomeet their needs. Several teachers mentioned that the weekly meetings or conferences wereimportant aspects of the support program. Teachers said teacher said: ―She has availed herself tome outside of the classroom should I need assists,‖ and ―when I needed help all I had to do wascall or e-mail.‖Encouragement.During the first few months of teaching, new teachers often feel thatthey are merely surviving from day-to-day and could profit from encouragement from seasonedteachers and administrators. One teacher said that the most valuable aspect of her/his supportprogram was: ―Encouragement, ability to bounce ideas off one another, team collaboration.‖Another teacher was encouraged by: ―Having available a knowledgeable, neutral party at myfingertips to discuss my many concerns.‖Professional expertise.New teacher responses related to the professional expertise thatmentors shared with them included: collaboration; assistance with classroom management andorganization; sharing resources and materials, educational information, and teaching strategies;individualized support; and model instruction. One teacher noted the importance of: ―learningclassroom management skills, instructional strategies, and having someone to vent myfrustrations to who understands my position,‖ ―my mentor saved my job and kept me fromdrowning in problems.‖Most challenging working conditions. The findings from responses of new teachers tothe question: ―At your site, what are the most challenging working conditions‖? The responsesmade by new teachers in this study are primarily related to several teaching and learningconditions noted by Johnson and her associates. They are: (a) student behavior; (b) advice andsupport from principals and colleagues; (b) principals and fellow teachers that maintain a stableand orderly work environment; and (c) sufficient resources with which to teach.Behavior of students.New teachers mentioned most often that the most challengingcondition at their school site was related to discipline or behavior of their students. Teachersreported that the students were unruly and they lacked respect. For example one teacher reported:―having a child in my classroom that was physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive towardsthe teachers and peers,‖Principals and fellow teachers that maintain a stable and orderly work environment.Related to the behavior of students was the inability of principals and fellow teachers to assist inmaintaining an orderly work environment. Teachers in this study reported they received littleadvice or assistance by the school administration and veteran teachers to change this condition.Teachers also communicated a lack of parental involvement and support to assist in improving
VIVIAN GUNN MORRIS and CURTIS MORRIS26the unruly behavior of students, as well. For example, teachers noted that: ―my principal hasbeen absolutely no help to me,‖ and ―there isn‘t much support or help from the parents.‖ In someinstances, new teachers felt that principals actually were instrumental in creating a negativeschool environment.Advice and support from principals and colleagues. The area that received the secondhighest number of responses from the new teachers was related to advice and support fromprincipals and colleagues including both the lack of assistance in improving student behavior andthe lack of sufficient resources with which to teach. New teachers noted that principalscommunicated with them in a negative manner, seasoned teachers in their building and/or gradelevel were unwilling to provide needed advice, and they did not receive critical information onschool procedures.Sufficient resources with which to teach. Many new teachers in this study appeared tolack a number of materials, supplies and equipment with which to teach. Some of the items theymentioned included tables and chairs, teaching manuals, subject-matter kits, books, and overheadprojector. They also mentioned that in some cases the condition of the physical plant was poorand unsanitary and resource people were not available to work with students at the times theywere assigned.Conclusions and RecommendationsThe overarching research question for this study was: What are some of the teaching andlearning conditions new teachers communicated were present in their school environments,during their first year of teaching, which could assist in ensuring that African American childrenachieve at high academic levels?Based on the responses made by first year teachers about themost valuable aspects of their support program, it appears that support provided by the fulltimementors were teaching and learning conditions that could have assisted the new teachers inensuring that African American children in their classrooms to achieve at high levels, i.e., (a)emotional support; (b) accessibility of mentors to meet their needs; (c) encouragement; and (d)the provision of professional expertise.On the other hand, the new teachers reported on the existence of teaching and learningconditions in their buildings that interfered with their ability to provide high quality academicprograms for children in their classrooms, i.e., (a) their students were unruly, disrespectful, andlittle assistance was offered by school administrators and veteran teachers (in their building) tochange this condition, and (b) lack of materials, supplies, and equipment with which to teach,which generally fall under the responsibility of the principal. These findings are consistent withwhat other researchers have reported (Baron, 2006; Fletcher, Watkins, Gless& Villarreal-Carman, 2011; Johnson et al., 2007).Many new teachers who are hired in low-income, urban schools today are only markingtime until they can transfer to a ―good school‖ while many will not last through the first year.Teacher turnover is often great and teachers do not remain in the schools long enough to becomeeffective master teachers, the kind of teachers that children enrolled in such schools desperatelyneed. Cherian and Daniel (2008) agree that ―one of the most frequent reasons given for leavingthe profession is the poor quality of support from the school principal‖ (p.1). They also stated
VIVIAN GUNN MORRIS and CURTIS MORRIS27that ―principals, as instructional leaders, are responsible for ensuring that a culture of inductionas support is embedded within their schools‖ (p. 3). Principals may be more likely to provideeffective support and feedback to teachers when they participate in the same professionaldevelopment activities as their teachers (Brown et al., 2011). Many principals do not.While principals are responsible for conducting high-quality induction and mentoringprograms and evaluation of teachers, they may also share this responsibility with teacher leaders,mentors, and other veteran teachers in their buildings (Feiman-Nemser, 2003a, 2003b; Johnson,S. M., Kraft, &Papay, 2012; Yusko, &Feiman-Nemser, 2008). Most new teachers, as theteachers described in this study, will require some professional development in classroommanagement in order to manage effectively the behavior of students enrolled in their classrooms.Some activities that may be useful in getting teachers off to the right start might be: includingclassroom management as a topic for new teachers in the building as part of their orientation andhaving the mentors work with the new teachers in organizing their classrooms, assisting in thedevelopment of classroom rules, and offering tips for instructional plans for the first weeks ofschool.As part of the orientation for new teachers, principals should communicate both thechallenges and opportunities (not only the negative) for gaining the involvement and support offamilies and community in the life of the school. The principal might plan a bus tour of thecommunity served by the school for the new teachers, provide opportunities for beginningteachers to make visits to the homes of their students prior to the beginning of school, and assistnew teachers in developing a card or letter to send to parents to introduce themselves and solicittheir assistance as partners in working with their children. The principal should work with bothnew and veteran teachers throughout the school year to ensure that they perform within the scopeof the building‘s shared vision, mission, goals, and strategies for sustaining continuousimprovement. Many of these tasks may be shared with the mentor assigned to each teacher.When principals serve as effective instructional leaders in their buildings, along with providingother positive teaching and learning conditions, African American children and other children ofcolor are more likely to experience increased positive academic outcomes.Table 1 provides some additional practical suggestions that may be useful for principalsto consider as they plan valuable support programs for beginning teachers in order to promoteeffective teaching and learning conditions for their new teachers and the students enrolled intheir classrooms. Many of these ideas emerged primarily from research completed by SusanMoore Johnson and her associates at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (Johnson et al,2007) and the New Teacher Center at Santa Cruz (Hirsch, Sioberg, & Dougherty, 2011).Valuable aspects of support programs for new teachers included in the chart are: (a) assigningnew teachers to teach subjects for which they are qualified; (b) providing a well-trained mentorfor each new teacher who is responsible for enhancing the professional practice of the beginningteacher; (c) assigning new teachers an appropriate teaching and non-teaching duties; (d) makingcertain that the classroom of new teachers are filled with sufficient resources and equipmentbefore they arrive at the school building; and (e) allocating school hours for observing, feedback,professional development, and other tasks that are required to accelerate the professional practiceof new teachers.
VIVIAN GUNN MORRIS and CURTIS MORRIS28Table 1Valuable Aspects of Support Programs for New Teachers Compared to Teaching and LearningConditions that May Interfere with Student Achievement OutcomesValuable Aspects of Support Programs Teaching and Learning Conditions that Interferewith Student AchievementAssign new teachers to teach subjectsFor which they are qualified.Require new teachers to teach subjects forwhich they have insufficient training.Provide an exemplary teacher who hasbeen enrolled in a high quality mentortraining program to serve as mentor to eachnew teacher prior to the first day of classeswith students, one who can assist newteachers in improving teacher practice.Assign a ―buddy‖ veteran teacher for eachnew teacher who provides primarilyemotional support and who may look in onthe teacher occasionally to ask ―how areyou doing?‖Limit the number of teaching and non-teaching assignments for which newteachers are responsible; loads that aredifferent from those assigned to veteranteachers.Assign new teachers with excessiveteaching and non-teaching assignments thatinterfere with time required to developinstructional practice.Work with veteran teachers (especiallythose who teach same grade levels andsubjects) in the school building to ensurethat sufficient teacher resources andequipment are available in the classroom ofthe new teacher when he/she arrives at theschool building. This may include itemssuch as sets of classroom text books,curriculum guides, varied curriculummaterials, and equipment that are in goodworking condition.Assign new teachers to classrooms whereveteran teachers have been allowed toremove valuable required instructionalresources when it was learned that a newteacher would be assigned to a specificclassroom in their building. Once the newteacher is assigned he/she is forced toscourge around to find the materials,resources, and equipment that are neededto provide quality instruction for herstudents.Allocate school hours for new teachers to:be observed by their assigned mentor toreceive feedback; observe exemplaryteachers in his/her building; receivefeedback from principal on classroomobservations; attend professionaldevelopment activities that address theneeds identified by beginning teachers;attend grade level meetings that allowopportunities to develop lesson plans,analyze student work; and to review theresults of students‘ assessments.Require that the following activities musttake place during before or after-schoolhours: feedback from mentors andprincipals; additional professionaldevelopment activities; grade levelmeetings and other activities designed toenhance professional practice.
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VIVIAN GUNN MORRIS and CURTIS MORRIS32Sowell, T. (1976).Patterns of black excellence.Public Interest, 43,26-38. Retrievedfromhttp://www.nationalaffairs.com/authors/public_interest/thomas-sowellTeaching and leadership for the twenty-first century: The 2012 international summit on theteaching profession.(2012). Asian Society Partnership for Global Learning. Retrievedfrom http://asiasociety.org/files/2012teachingsummit.pdf26 more states and D. C. seek flexibility from NCLB to drive education reforms in second roundof requests. (2012). Washington DC: U. S. Department of Education. Retrieved fromhttp://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/26-more-states-and-dc-seek-flexibility-nclb-drive-education-reforms-second-roundWahlstrom, K. L., Louis, K. S., Leithwood, K., & Anderson, S. E. (2010).Investigatingthe links to improved Student learning: Executive summary of research findings. NewYork, NY: The Wallace foundation. Retrieved from the Wallace Foundation website:http://www.wallacefoundation.org/KnowledgeCenter/KnowledgeTopics/CurrentAreasofFocus/EducationLeadership/Documents/Learning-from-Leadership-Investigating-Links-Ex-Summary.pdfWalker, V. S. (1996). Their highest potential: African American school community in thesegregated south. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press.Walker, V. S. (2000). Valued segregated schools for African American children in theSouth, 1935-69: A review of common themes and characteristics. Review of EducationalResearch, 70(3), 253-285.Wei, R. C., Darling-Hammond, L., & Adamson, F. (2010).Professional development inthe United States: Trends and challenges. Dallas, TX: National Staff DevelopmentCouncil. Retrieved from the National Staff Development council website:http://www.nsdc.org/news/NSDCstudytechnicalreport2010.pdfAuthorsVivian Gunn Morris holds the Ph.D. degree in Inner City Education, Early ChildhoodEducation Emphasis, from Peabody College, Vanderbilt University. She is Professor ofEducation, Assistant Dean for Faculty and Staff Development, and Director of the New TeacherCenter in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, University of Memphis. Dr.Morris is the recipient of college, university, and national awards in research, scholarship, andservice. Her research interests include educating African American children, family involvementin education and early childhood education.Curtis Morris holds the M. S. in Urban Affairs from Alabama A&M University and the B.S. inBusiness Administration from the University of North Alabama. He served as Director of theHuntsville AL Concentrated Employment Program and Associate Executive V. P. of the UnitedWay of Morris County, NJ. He is a retired Coordinator of School Improvement Planning forMemphis City Schools and is anAdvancEDQuality Review Team Chair. He co-authored twobooks and several articles on educating African American children.