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George Bradt and Mary Vonnegut, in Onboarding: How to Get Your New Employees Up to Speed in Half the Time, define onboarding as “the process of acquiring, accommodating, assimilating, and accelerating new team members”. They state that onboarding “can be a culture-shaping sustainable competitive advantage” due to the process helping to “build, sustain, and perpetuate high-performing teams”. Without a deliberate and effective onboarding process in place, Mark Stein and Lilith Christensen believe an organization suffers due to increased recruitment expenses, reduced productivity, and a tarnishing of the identified brand.
So, what does this look like in a school?
Effectively onboarding a new teacher requires deliberate actions from the new teacher and the hiring district, school, and grade-level team. What follows is an attempt to clarify the many terms that get used to describe the new teacher onboarding process and who is responsible for what.
This is what the school’s staff does for a new teacher-
Orientate: To show an employee the generalities of a district, school, or grade-level team
Induct: To formally admit a new teacher into the district, school, or grade level team
This is what a new teacher does for the new district, school, or grade-level team –
Acclimate: To become accustomed to the new district, school, or grade-level team
Assimilate: To absorb into the new culture of the new district, school, or grade-level team
Acculturate: To adapt by borrowing traits from members of the new district, school, or grade-level team
When these actions are deliberately considered by members of the new district, school, or grade-level team, and the support is provided to the new teacher to perform their required actions, employee enculturation will occur.
From the new teacher’s perspective, employee enculturation is the process by which they learn the traditional content of the new district, school, or grade-level team’s culture and assimilates the practices and values. The new district, school, or grade-level team should be concerned with the enculturation OF an employee. Meaning, the new district, school, or grade-level team should be deliberately facilitating the process by which the hiring organization can learn the traditional content of an new teacher’s culture and work experiences and assimilate those findings into the existing practices and values of the district, school, or grade-level team.
If authentic enculturation does not occur, and a teacher leaves due to its absence, a district, school, or grade-level team must ask themselves . . .
How much does it cost to recruit a new teacher?
How soon does a new teacher become productive? How does your district, school, or grade-level team define productive?
How accepting of new teachers is your new district, school, or grade-level team?
An enculturation program goes beyond simply filling out human resource forms and showing a new teacher where the staff bathroom is located.
Employee encultration is the process that melds the cultures of the district, school, or grade-level team with that of the new teacher.
Take stock of your current situation by asking, “What is my district, school, or grade-level team do to encultruate our newest team members?”