Faculty induction program designed to combat teacher shortage
Posted on 08/25/2021
R-I Superintendent Dr. Scott Dill and Oak Grove Principal Jenifer Richardson lead the final TIPSS session with the 2020/21 cohort of new educators.

In an effort to increase retention among faculty, a job-embedded training program created by a state-wide education mogul has been relinquished to the Poplar Bluff school system so new teachers can find success in their first year.

The district-wide teacher induction program support system (TIPSS) is entering its fourth year under the instruction of co-facilitators R-I Superintendent Dr. Scott Dill and Oak Grove Principal Jenifer Richardson.

Poplar Bluff was the first to model TIPSS with guidance from consultant Dr. Pam Hedgpeth beginning at the Middle School in 2018, where there was a high rate of turnover. The program expanded down to kindergarten the following school year when Richardson initially participated, and finally up to the secondary level.

“We all recognize that the way we have traditionally onboarded new teachers, while well-intended, was not very effective," Dill stated. “We just did not devote enough time and resources ensuring new teachers find the success they deserve, and—most importantly—our students deserve.”

TIPSS consists of a series of all-day trainings with rookie faculty members, as well as several non-evaluative classroom observations followed by a coaching session with facilitators, building principals and veteran teaching mentors, a metacognitive piece designed to promote self-reflection. Previous participants will also visit this year’s cohort, the final checkpoint of Hedgpeth’s three-pronged approach.

The “bedrocks” of the direct instruction sessions, according to Hedgpeth, are to build efficacy for high-quality teachers so they can in turn develop relationships with students and improve classroom management; maintain great communication with parents and collaboration with colleagues; understand the pedagogy of strong instructional strategies to create lesson plans that align with learning standards; and have a deep knowledge base of what the research says.

“With the teacher shortage, we’re hardly going to replace those leaving in Missouri; in fact, we won’t,” Hedgpeth noted. “Since we know over half the new teachers are going to exit the profession after five years, we want these teachers coming in feeling supported so they’re not on an island, and maybe they’ll stay with us.”

The system is based on work Hedgpeth conducted through the National Center on Education and the Economy which identified that countries that have school systems with high student achievement all have strong teacher induction programs with a follow-up piece embedded, she said. TIPSS also parallels research conducted by academic Linda Darling-Hammond over the Learning Policy Institute.

Dill, who called Hedgpeth a “monumental figure in education in Missouri,” credits the lifelong educator for mentoring him to complete his doctoral degree in 2018. The superintendent’s working relationship with Hedgpeth goes back to his graduate degree studies at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, where she is a professor emeritus. Hedgpeth, who in turn referred to Dill as a “great thinker,” additionally managed a 28-year tenure in public education, retiring as superintendent for the Republic School District.

For a superintendent to simultaneously help deliver the training is "really kind of unheard of," according to Hedgpeth. "It reminds me of the passion and enthusiasm with which each of us enters into this profession," Dill commented on the unique experience. "When we become teachers, generally it's because we have a sense of obligation that we can change the world for the better, and our goal for the TIPSS program is to reinforce that belief.”

After introducing TIPSS, Hedgpeth established a similar program in Marshfield followed by leading some regional professional development in the greater St. Charles area, and is presently doing advocacy work with a cooperative of 70 districts. The concept of TIPSS was always to turn over the process to Poplar Bluff, and “work myself out of a job,” explained Hedgpeth. “It’s more from a service heart,” she pointed out. Dill referred to the induction program as a culmination of her life’s work.

“I’ve had a wonderful career as an educator, and I just enjoy giving back,” Hedgpeth continued. “You work 30, 35, 40 years in public education and you just have a lot of background knowing what works, and it seems like such a disservice to not share.”

Richardson, entering her 25th year here, will continue to co-facilitate the program on a voluntary basis, tying in the Professional Learning Community process that R-I has subscribed to since 2010 to help ensure its long-term viability by localizing the structure, Dill said. The Oak Grove principal also had a prior professional relationship with Hedgpeth when she participated in the National Institute for School Leadership under which Hedgpeth served as facilitator almost a decade ago.

“It is overwhelming when new teachers come in so this gives them the framework to help break it down into pieces, and it’s amazing to see that growth mindset from our first to last coaching conversation,” Richardson added. “I feel like the TIPSS program emphasizes the importance of collaboration, action research, classroom management, positive engagement and all those effective practices we expect our teachers to be a part of, but provides that support rather than allowing them to continue to struggle.”


Cutline: R-I Superintendent Dr. Scott Dill and Oak Grove Principal Jenifer Richardson lead the final TIPSS session with the 2020/21 cohort of new educators in April in the Administrative Building.

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