Each year school districts comb through applicants to find candidates who have the most potential (hopefully using effective selection tools for teachers) and the next step in bringing them on board through orientation and socialization techniques that support your broader school district goals. The process of selection, orientation and socialization is often referred to as onboarding. School districts make every effort to hire the most effective applicants in the selection pool. Newly hired teachers range from seasoned veterans to bright eyed recent college graduates. Regardless of the newly hired teachers’ backgrounds, many school districts bring new members on board in an ineffective format by reviewing district policy, filling out payroll, insurance, and other types of financial forms and handing them keys to their classroom. Some districts have established mentor type programs for teachers with fewer than three years’ experience. Some districts have a two or three day session of “district familiarization,” but many districts don’t have a training period for newly hired teachers where essential criteria for effective teaching, culture, and expectations within a particular district are taught, rehearsed, and evaluated before students ever walk in the classroom. Experienced teachers who are new to a district may take issue with being retrained. They shouldn’t feel insulted or infer a lack of confidence in their abilities, rather they simply need to be made aware the district views orientation and training as critical not only for improving individual teacher effectiveness, but also for enhancing overall district effectiveness.
Few occupations outside of teaching rely on new members in the organization to perform on day one with little or no follow up training to assimilate to organization specific expectations. When police officers graduate a training academy and are hired by a police department they spend months riding with training officers who often inform them of the differences between classroom and real world experience. In this example, new hires have an opportunity to learn under the guidance of someone who the police department trusts in transferring essential criteria for effective performance and the assimilation of the culture within that particular department. If a veteran officer transfers to a new department they aren’t given the keys to a patrol car on their first day, they must still complete a period of onboarding. Even in the fast food industry, employers don’t trust the training of previous experience or a similar employer to be successful in a new environment. McDonald’s managers wouldn’t say, “I see here you’ve flipped burgers at Wendy’s. Well then, let’s forego all this paperwork and training and get you out on the line.” Research has shown that individuals with a stronger understanding of expectations, organizational goals and values, and organizational history indicated strong and significant relationships with outcomes such as career involvement and job satisfaction (Chao, 1994). Successful companies know that in order for the entire organization to be effective, they must hire the best candidates available and ensure they all start with same awareness of the expectations to meet broader organizational goals.
An effective school district onboarding program can result in highly motivated teachers and staff members who are ready to be productive in their classroom. Effective onboarding can begin the process of instilling the values of the district in each new member. An ineffective onboarding program can lead to frustrated new staff members who feel uncommitted, confused, and anxious who aren’t quite sure how they fit in your district.
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k12hrsolutions.com is a human resource consulting team that specializes in human resource needs of k-12 school districts. Members of our team have strong backgrounds in human resources, management and leadership, education, and organizational effectiveness. Our team members specialize in industrial and organizational psychology, a strategic human resource degree, that focuses on individual and team behaviors that result in desired organizational objectives.
Chao, G. T., O’Leary-Kelly, A. M., Wolf, S., Klein, H. J., & Gardner, P. D. (1994). Organizational socialization: Its content and consequences. Journal of Applied Psychology, 79(5), 730-743.