Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency

Accelerating new teacher practice through collaboration and a research-based model

Districts in Prairie Lakes AEA formed a consortium starting the 2018-19 school year to address challenges the districts were having with recruiting and retaining effective new teachers. The mission is to enhance and accelerate new teacher practices and increase retention through a collaborative and comprehensive system that ensures the success of all learners. The comprehensive system entails a working partnership among the districts, PLAEA, Grantwood AEA, and the New Teacher Center (NTC).

The consortium consisted of four districts the first year and now includes five districts. One of the initial districts paid for 10 first and second year teachers to participate in the launch of the consortium. The superintendent joined because “as an administrator in a rural district I found that we often lacked the
necessary resources to support new teachers with developing habits of mind about learner variability and standards based instruction and assessment. The consortium model makes it financially feasible to provide the support needed and the New Teacher Center model provides the tools and resources for supporting teachers with their consideration of the social, emotional, and academic needs of students.  

"I saw teachers grow in their skills and understandings to the benefit of students in our district!” (Barb Kruthoff, retired Superintendent, East Sac County CSD)

What is an Induction Consortium for New Teachers?
An Induction Consortium for new teachers is a model whereby multiple districts collaborate to hire a full-time Induction Coach to support the acceleration of new teacher practices. Five PLAEA districts are
in their second year of participation in a consortium. Grant Wood AEA, Great Prairie AEA, and Mississippi Bend AEA also have consortiums.

The PLAEA coach has a caseload of 15 teachers and meets with each teacher 180 to 240 minutes per month. Most of the coach support is focused on assisting teachers with 1) knowing their students, 2) planning standards aligned lessons that meet the variable learning needs of their students, and 3) analyzing student learning progress toward grade-level standards and planning next steps. The teacher also chooses lessons he/she would like the coach to observe. The coach observes and provides feedback about students and the classroom learning environment.

Research involving Iowa districts showed that students of new teachers supported by a coach trained in the NTC model had three to five months higher achievement in reading and math than students of new teachers supported by traditional mentoring programs. Research also showed measurable growth in teacher practice.

The growth in practice is, in part, due to the collaboration between the coach and teacher being driven by the teacher’s inquiry into their practices and its impact on student learning. The coach uses the NTC’s
instructional framework and continuum of practice with the new teachers to articulate a description of quality teaching and to respect the diverse ways teachers pursue excellence in teaching and learning.The continuum is used as a tool for self-reflection, goal-setting, and integrating inquiry into practice.

“Having an induction coach has been such a great resource in assisting me during my first year of teaching. It is nice to have professional conversations about teaching where the main focus is improving my own teaching practice, as well as the learning experience for my students. It is also very helpful to receive feedback designed to help mold me into the best teacher possible, rather than the traditional.” (Brady Dicks, South Central Calhoun High School Business Teacher)

Why do districts choose the Induction Consortium Model for New Teachers?
According to Nicole McChesney, South Central Calhoun Elementary Principal, “ new teachers deserve more support and expertise than what I am able to give them.

Having a strong induction coach in our building ensures that they are getting what they need.” Sara Pibal, East Sac County Elementary Principal, finds “an induction coach to be an invaluable resource for our new teachers both to support them in instructional practices -- and emotionally as teaching is such a high demand profession.  Knowing that new teachers are working with an individual trained in New Teacher Center
practices, feeds right into our instructional coaching program here at East Sac County School District as well.”

And, Denny Olhausen, East Sac County Middle School Principal shares that "being a part of the Induction Consortium has provided our new teachers with instructional supports in so many arenas. It hasbeen integral in getting our new teachers off on the right foot and improve their skills for students.

How does an Induction Consortium work?
Initially districts send a team to learn about the benefits of a consortium model and the research that supports a high quality induction program. The districts develop a mission, plan for implementation, and
a budget. All the districts sign an agreement to implement the model with fidelity. The AEA coordinates various actions such as 1) recruiting and hiring the Induction Coach, 2) professional learning for the coach, 3) leading induction board meetings, 4) facilitating principal engagement and learning, 5) problem solving implementation issues, 6) designing program evaluation, and 7) supervising the shared coach.

The coach is hired from one of the consortium districts through a rigorous hiring process. The coach remains an employee of his/her home district on a continuing contract with salary and benefits. Each
district pays an equal fee per teacher to participate in the consortium. The cost is around $6,000 per teacher. PLAEA is the fiscal agent and collects fees from each district and then reimburses the home district for the coach’s salary/benefits, mileage reimbursement, and professional learning. PLAEA provides a Program Lead to coordinate the various components of the consortium using NTC’s induction model in partnership with GWAEA’s Teacher Induction System of Support. PLAEA provides all program support as part of the agency’s service for districts.

Each district continues to provide a mentor to help teachers acclimate to the building culture, learn about district policies and procedures (student management system, parent/teacher conferences, etc.), and ideas for classroom management. The mentor is also a peer and confidant to provide emotional support.

For more information about the consortium, please contact Jaymie Randel, PLAEA Coaching Coordinator,

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