Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to induct new staff to your school

I had a great day at my new school yesterday. The purpose of the day was made quite clear, just to get to know each other and learn a bit about the school. If there was time some business could be done. We arrived to coffee in the staff room, in a small cottage a bit away from the school buildings, and then started the day. I came into a room where we were clearly in teams, with different coloured notebooks on the tables with names on each. A bit of mix and match is always good, with some new staff and some continuing staff on each table. As the school is both primary and secondary there was a mix of teachers also on each table. So far, so good. Not very special.

But the specialness came when the principal started to talk about the school: I loved that he emphasised flexibility and adaptability and that at the school we celebrate mistakes as learning opportunities. I have always believed this myself. I hate the students using correction fluid on their work. It is great that the students can see the learning, as they think of a better way to spell that tricky word or a more elegant or accurate way to phrase that sentence. And the students have been known to say “But the crossing out makes it messy” and I say “But learning IS messy”. Anyway, I love that philosophy. Another stance I really like is that expectations are made clear, in order to reduce anxiety in the learners. It is this reasoning that I like so much. I know that better learning can occur when there is less anxiety. So I felt reassured that in these ways at least I would like my new school.

Then the getting to know you part. We were given 45 minutes to put together a presentation of some sort that involved ICT (there are IWBs available in each room and each teacher is given a laptop) and that informed the rest of the staff about the group members. It was hilarious. There were powerpoints, games that involved the response systems, and click and drag quizzes. Not surprisingly each group member got to know quite a lot about each other.

In the afternoon we were able to think of equipment we will need for next year. I would like to order some flip cameras, a few mobile phones (learning from Jess McCulloch) and some headsets (for Voicethread and podcasts etc) to get ourselves set up for some creative learning in English. I also loved the fact that there is an active community program at the school, which I can’t wait to find out more about. One idea I have is to have the Year 7s, when they study poetry in Term 4, to make illustrated anthologies for particular audiences, maybe residents of a senior citizens home for one audience, and students in the lower primary school for another. This would help students consider the importance of audience, the suitability of themes and language, and the impact of illustrations or ways of presenting the poetry. Anyway it’s just an idea and I don’t know if it is even possible but I did get the feeling that it just might be, along with other creative and energising things.


  1. Wow sounds really good Jo! Creativity, ICT and flexibilty and that is only the first day! Hope alll goes well for you! By the way I also am a fan of messy learning!

  2. Is sounds like just your sort of place. I'm glad it's going well for you. I am changing school next year - going back to a school I love. I, too, am really excited about the possibilities for next year.
    One of my big philosophies is that students work be their own - not mine - so I'm with you with the whole mistakes business. Kids need to feel free to take risks and experiment without always getting everything right the first time 'round.
    Look forward to hearing more about your new school.

  3. Thanks for the post, Jo, it does sound like they have a progressive philosophy, I hope you enjoy and thrive in your new position.

    The tips on induction are very useful and I have forwarded the link for this post to the person responsible for induction of new staff at my current school. I particularly like the idea of creating an ICT presentation on fellow group members - sounds like great fun!

  4. Congratulations Jo..sounds to me like the move is going to be fabulous! Year 7 English...now there's a thought. I will be teaching Year 7 English, so keep me in mind for some collaborative fun. What an amazing way to get staff geared into working together in such an exciting environment.

  5. Sounds almost too good to be true! All those IWB's and I bet these kids won't have to keep on topping up their internet credit (like ours do)I've got yr7 English again next year Jo and plan to set up class blogs - would love to interact with your students sometime. In the meantime - Happy holidays!(Hope your daughter's foot is healing)

  6. Hi Jo! Sounds like a positive workplace that cares about its staff.
    I often buy headphones+mics for school and have found them cheapest on ebay (Hong Kong supply). Here's a link to one http://tinyurl.com/5fnm2s
    They seem to have doubled in price since I last bought some in September, but for the quality they beat what you can buy here for the same $.

  7. What a great start to the year! I look forward to reading more as you begin to move through the year. I am really excited for you!

  8. Hi Jo and thanks so much for your great post. What a fabulous induction to your new school! I'm very impressed with the way they included ICT in your "get to know you" activity. Sends a very clear message to staff that ICT is important at your school. What a lovely, positive start for you. All the very best for 2009!
    Lucy :)

  9. Wow, what a lucky school.

    I like the bit where you describe, "Learning is Messy" This could give me some ideas for inspiration at our staff training sessions. Would love to have you talk at our school one day :-)

  10. What a wonderfully inspirational way to welcome and induct staff! Your school obviously values innovative learning programs and learning technologies. You must be excited to be starting there in the New Year.

    I love your idea of an illustrated poetry anthology for diverse audiences. Good luck with that.

    I'm starting at a new school too next year as Learning Technologies Coordinator. We have IWBs in 9 areas so a little way to go yet. Moving form ActivBoard in current classroom to SmartBoard in new room, so hope to transfer skills fairly easily.

  11. Really it is great post for us. Through which we can get that how can we deal with everybody in a school. Thanks for the article.