Here is some MORE INFORMATION on Program Purpose

Return to the Model Program Introduction Page

The Three Basic Program Purposes:


© By Barry Sweeny, 1992, 1999

The following are the three major categories for induction and mentoring program purposes. How well programs are designed to accomplish all three of these purposes will determine the degree of impact those programs have on instruction and student learning. That makes purpose extremely critical!

1. ORIENTATION: to the local school, district, community, and curriculum.

Most programs address the orientation purpose, although many do not provide much more than an INITIAL orientation. What is most often ignored (tragically) is the on-going need to orient a new teacher to the curriculum through out the entire year. This includes orientation to the content, instructional strategies, resources, standards, assessments, pacing, and lots more!

This did not used to be as critical because most "curriculum" was really just the textbooks. In today's educational world of standards and engaged learning, textbooks are less the focus of instruction and the need for orientation to the district's intended curriculum is more important. This is one of the best roles for a mentor and it has a huge impact on the quality of instruction in the new teacher's classroom.


This purpose involves addressing the image of the teacher that is often in the mind of the new teacher. new teachers arrive with a conception of teaching shaped by over 14,000 hours of observing teachers at work. How closely do those earlier models match the model of teaching your district is asserting now? Through modeling and conversation the mentor must overcome any outdated images in the new teacher's mind of what a teacher is and does, and help the new teacher to learn how to meet the expectations held for the professional educator today. These expectation go far beyond what a teacher does by themselves in the classroom with students!

Those districts which define the purposes of their induction program as exceeding orientation usually try to address the purpose of induction into the profession and establishing effective teachers. Frequently this additional purpose is addressed by assigning a peer coaching role for mentors and training them to successfully develop these skills in themselves and in new teachers. Naturally, this increased expectation brings increased benefits to students, but comes only at an increased cost of time and resources. It is not any easy step to take effectively or to sustain over time.


The third purpose that is added to the others is that of enlisting new teachers into the on-going search that today's professional educator must undertake. The expectations for success of all learners in the increasingly diverse schools we serve, and the increasing accountability for results, requires that every teacher be constantly growing professionally. Mentors who can model this behavior and accomplish this purpose are not the good teachers who act as if they have "arrived" at a level of satisfactory practice. The best mentor is the teacher who has a high level of instructional practice, a focus on individual student success, is a continual learner and is a contributing member of a learning community, which is focused on realizing their fullest potential together. The mentor believes and lives the concept that we can accomplish more together than we can by acting separately. The task of mentoring then, is to develop new teachers who understand and accept this vision for our profession and who have the disposition and skills needed to contribute to "the search for excellence".

Very few induction programs have figured out how to make their mentoring process effective for this third purpose. Those that have are the model programs we should be visiting. This web site is dedicated to helping all induction programs accomplish this purpose. What programs need to do to attain all of these purposes is actually quite simple, but NOT EASY. If it were easy, most schools would already be learning communities.

You may print out this page as long as...

You do not sell the information.
You use the page as it prints out from the web site, retaining the following citation about the author and the header on each page.
Barry W. Sweeny, 26 W 413 Grand Ave., Wheaton, IL 60187, 630-668-2605, email at
Web site at