Thursday / April 25

What Our New Staff Need from Us

It is not uncommon to feel a mix of emotions as we get closer to the start of a new year, and this is especially true with new teachers. The educational terrain has been a bit rugged (to say the least) and yet they courageously choose to join our profession, determined to make an impact on their learners, Novice teachers don’t know what they don’t know so what can instructional leaders and coaches do to step in and best support them? How do we ensure that every student deserves a great first-year teacher, not by chance, but by design?

One way to do this is to design a coherent onboarding process. Each campus has a unique set of curricular, instructional, and cultural expectations so an onboarding is a customized experience that integrates new professional members into the site-level organization. This should complement the induction programs offered by the school system. To get your new staff up to speed, ensure that there are: (1) planned activities aligned to the site’s values and structures, (2) regular opportunities to network with other members of the organization, and (3) extended experiences that last up to one year (Frey et al., 2023).

Just as effective classroom teachers do with their student learners, effective instructional leaders and coaches understand who their new teachers are and what they need as adult learners.

Protheroe (2006) found that those who are new to school organizations:

  • Want more information about the expectations of school leaders,
  • Want access to accessible leaders who provide assistance, guidance, and solutions,
  • Appreciate being observed in the classroom and getting direct feedback,
  • Benefit from a support group of teachers with whom they can collaborate, vent, and provide motivation during tough times,
  • Are eager to watch experts and develop their craft under guidance, and
  • Want to be listened to and made to feel successful.

Successful novice teachers engage in an onboarding framework around year-long, fundamental professional learning practices or cycles. Instructional leaders and coaches make learning visible when they:

  • “Get in their (first-year) shoes” – Reconnect with their personal experiences and design meaningful and relevant experiences with appropriate scaffolding.
  • Analyze the current practices – Consider the status of create an action plan, and clearly communicate their expectations for all teachers.
  • Design meaningful learning opportunities – They work collaboratively with expert teachers on campus. new teachers can visit classrooms and debrief what was observed with colleagues.
  • Do regular and personal check-ins – Send an email, chat in the hallway, and visit their class, and give feedback, just to name a few.
  • Assess progress – Check for understanding and refine the previously discussed learning cycles.

Instructional leaders and coaches need to ensure new teachers and new staff feel welcome, successful, and stay in the profession. The RAND Corporation published research that showed that at the end of the 2021-2022 school year, the national teacher turnover rate was 10%, which was 4% above pre-pandemic levels (Diliberti & Schwartz, 2023). Comparatively, urban districts, high-poverty districts, and districts serving predominantly students of color had the highest turnover rate at 12 to 14% (Diliberti & Schwartz, 2023). The data shows that we cannot take a laissez-fair approach if we want to close the opportunity gap. With a coherent onboarding process, nothing is left to chance. Not only is it designed to give students access to the great first-year teachers that they deserve, but that access is sustained over time.


Diliberti, M. K., & Schwartz, H.L.(2023b, February 16). Educator Turnover Has Markedly Increased, but Districts Have Taken Actions to Boost Teacher Ranks: Selected Findings from the Sixth American School District Panel Survey. RAND.

Frey, N., Shin, M., Fisher, D., & Biscocho, E. (2023). Onboarding teachers: A Playbook for Getting New Staff Up to Speed. Corwin Press.

Protheroe, N. (2006). The principal’s role in supporting new teachers. Principal, 86(2), 34–38.



Written by

Michelle Shin, Ed.D., brings over 15 years of experience and research to her role at San Diego State University. She has a proven track record of excellence, transforming schools in the areas of instruction, systems, leadership, and culture. Dr. Shin has experience serving as classroom teacher in mathematics, teacher leader, site administrator, and educational consultant. Her life-long passion is to work with school communities and educators at all levels to ensure that all students and families have access to equitable, high-quality education.

Douglas Fisher, Ph.D., is Professor of Educational Leadership at San Diego State University and a teacher leader at Health Sciences High & Middle College. He is the recipient of an IRA Celebrate Literacy Award, NCTE’s Farmer Award for Excellence in Writing, as well as a Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education. He is also the author of PLC+, The PLC+ Playbook, This is Balanced Literacy, The Teacher Clarity Playbook, Grades K-12, Teaching Literacy in the Visible Learning Classroom for Grades K-5 and 6-12, Visible Learning for Mathematics, Grades K-12The Teacher Credibility and Collective Efficacy Playbook , Teaching Reading, and several other Corwin books. 

Nancy Frey, Ph.D., is Professor of Literacy in the Department of Educational Leadership at San Diego State University. The recipient of the 2008 Early Career Achievement Award from the National Reading Conference, she is also a teacher-leader at Health Sciences High & Middle College and a credentialed special educator, reading specialist, and administrator in California. She has been a prominent Corwin author, publishing numerous books including PLC+The PLC+ PlaybookThis is Balanced LiteracyThe Teacher Clarity Playbook, Grades K-12Engagement by DesignThe Teacher Credibility and Collective Efficacy PlaybookTeaching Reading and many more.  To view Doug and Nancy’s books and services, please visit Fisher and Frey Professional Learning. 

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