Socialization Circles – Using Site-Based Teacher Leaders to Provide Meaningful Socialization Support to New Staff in Urban Schools
Overall, the evidence consistently paints a bleak picture of the socializing experiences new teachers typically face when entering into urban schools, resulting in higher levels of turnover and lower levels of professional efficacy for teachers new to their urban school settings. The study seeks to improve the socialization experience of new teachers at a large urban high school in Southern California, where norms of isolation, lack of trust, and problematic induction experiences prevail. Consequently, the school has struggled to retain new staff and lift the academic performance of students. The study utilizes a design development methodology that draws on teacher socialization research to inform the design of an intervention that can ameliorate the contextual challenges new teachers are facing at the school. Specifically, the intervention seeks to broker relationships of trust, develop conversational norms focused on instructional practice, and encourage more frequent informal interactions amongst new and experienced teachers. To accomplish this, the intervention engages new and experienced teachers together in bi-weekly instructional support sessions over the course of the first semester of school that use a consultancy model to focus conversations on classroom-based problems of practice. Experienced teachers also participate in a series of reorientation sessions designed to familiarize experienced teachers with the conceptual definitions of supportive professional cultures and high quality informal interactions, and to support participants as they attempt to engage new staff in more informal interactions. While these intervention efforts fell short in some respect, they also registered measurable impact in important ways, including the willingness of new teachers to seek out additional help and engage in conversations about specific challenges they are facing in the classroom.