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Tom Kerrigan PLC 4 ED 73630-01 Reflection 3: Induction and Development of Employees

In my Unit 2 reflection, I shed some light on my new role as the new and first-year teacher mentoring coordinator this school year at Bishop Connolly High School (Fall River, MA); however, I would like to share some of my more recent thoughts and insights around this mentoring role, specifically as it applies to the induction and development of new employees:

In order to encourage our new and first-year teachers to enter into our school’s Catholic culture, we distributed copies of Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling to all of our new teachers/staff. This gesture was meant to serve as a spiritual invitation/welcome to our school community. My colleagues and I had received this same daily devotional journal a few years back at an opening day retreat with the intention that we would all have a common, unifying resource for our class- room and private prayer practice. Three years later, students and staff are still enjoying the fruits of Jesus Calling.

This same warm welcome has been extended by an invitation to our new faculty/staff to participate more fully in the various ministries of our school-wide liturgies. Some of our new teachers have served as lectors, while another teacher has assisted beautifully with sacristan du- ties (and helped alleviated some of my previous liturgical responsibilities and work-related stress). This seemed to be one of the healthiest ways to induct new employees into the spiritual life of our Catholic school community.

I recently facilitated our second monthly mentoring meeting with our first-year teachers off-site and was able to collect some insightful feedback from each new teacher based on their first couple of months of serving our students at BCHS. Our conversations moved from brain- storming about professional development opportunities to sharing self-care goals from last month’s meeting to empathizing about current graduate school workload (several of our new teachers are PACT students, a post-grad Catholic educator graduate degree program that is comparable to the ACE program). These monthly meetings will continue for the remainder of the school year and it is my goal to utilize our faculty handbook as the platform for these future conversations. It is important to note that each teacher has been assigned their own academic dean based on their academic discipline and that this mentoring relationship is centered more on the instructional and evaluative needs of each new teacher and less on the extra-curricular.

As I consider my own future as a Catholic school leader, I cannot help but consider the ways in which I would hope to induct and develop new employees into our school community. In my young professional career, I have been a new employee/or intern in several different schools —both public and private—and yet there have been very few settings where I have felt fully ini- tiated into the school culture. Even during my first year at Bishop Connolly High School when I was asked to teach four religion classes, coach our freshmen boys’ basketball team and serve as

the director of Campus Ministry, I did not always feel that I knew what was expected of me or where I could turn if I had simple questions whose answers would have alleviated a considerable amount of stress for me. I often learned by what my former internship supervisor would describe as “baptism by fire.” While I have come to appreciate this type of trial-and-error approach to su- pervision, I strongly believe that other veteran teachers/staff need to be involved in the transi- tional support of new employees. My vision is that this sort of shared wrap-around support would happen naturally and there would be multiple mentors with frequent check points who are interacting with each new employee during/after school hours throughout the school year; how- ever, I am not so naive to think that such an induction and development program would happen overnight or even amongst new colleagues in a new school that I am commissioned to lead. In- stead, I believe that I would have to model what it is that I expect from my teachers and staff as the school leader and I believe this begins as early as the hiring process. Just as I overheard our vice principal share with one of our students yesterday, I want everyone in our school communi- ty—including my colleagues—to feel that they are “safe, accepted, heard and loved.”