Julia Houston, assistant professor of early childhood education and edTPA coordinator for Shorter University’s School of Education, recently took part in a series of presentations on how universities can better prepare students to meet Georgia’s new requirement for an induction or professional learning plan.
Houston was part of a series of three panel discussions on the topic of “Using edTPA to Inform Induction” during the 2016 edTPA Summit and Georgia’s Professional Sciences Conference. Other panel members were Robin Seabolt, Title 1 coordinator at Pepperell Elementary School; Michele Sherman, associate superintendent for Columbia County Schools; and Judi Wilson, associate dean of the College of Education at Augusta University.
In addition to the panel discussions, Houston presented a breakout session that shared the information from the panel and discussed how Shorter’s School of Education has developed its new induction document, how it is being used, and why the induction plan is important.
“Shorter’s School of Education’s plan is rooted in the edTPA requirements and the Georgia TAPS standards that Georgia teachers are evaluated on,” Houston said. “We’ve taken those standards and created a document in which our candidates take their edTPA scores, the formative evaluations where we evaluate them as candidates using the TAPS requirements, and their GACE scores and put that together to look for strengths and weaknesses while they are still a student. The document becomes the basis for an induction plan to help these new teachers be stronger teachers.
“This (induction plan) is the document they will take out with them when they begin teaching. They can walk into an interview with a principal having already written their professional learning plan. They only thing they may need to add to it would typically be something to address a school-specific goal based on the school’s own strengths and weaknesses.”
Houston said her breakout session focused on explaining the value of induction plans to conference attendees, including other universities’ education faculty, Georgia’s PSC, and individuals at the county-level who are in charge of induction.
“Research shows that forty to fifty percent of new teachers will leave the field within five years. Think about how much they’ve invested in their education and how much is invested by the school systems in them becoming a new teacher,” Houston said. “We need to see how important (the induction plan) is. We don’t just need to think ‘okay, we have to have an induction plan so here’s mine, I’ve done that, check the box.’ A good plan involves looking at the data.
“A good model to think about is new year’s resolutions. People are always making resolutions to lose weight, clean the house, or get healthier, and that’s as far as we get because we make the resolution but we don’t write a plan to follow through. This induction plan has the actual steps that the teacher-candidates will take when they’re teaching. Even though it may change, at least they’ve got a document that outlines a place to get started that has the steps they will take and also how to evaluate how they are doing along the way.”
Houston added that the presentation offered an opportunity for the program participants to provide valuable information for educators serving in school systems across the state. “We see this as a partnership. We at the university level can’t be isolated from the school system; we’ve got to be part of what’s going on. We need them and they need us. We are committed to helping our candidates be prepared; we want them to be successful,” she said.
Founded in 1873, Shorter University is a Christ-centered, four-year liberal arts university committed to excellence in education. The Princeton Review annually includes Shorter University on its list of Best Southeastern Colleges. The university offers traditional bachelor’s degrees in 40 areas of study, online courses and degree programs, undergraduate programs for working adults, and four master’s programs. Learn more about Shorter at www.shorter.edu.