5 Steps of Transitional Onboarding

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5 Steps of Transitional Onboarding

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We assume, don’t we?

We figure they will be fine, so we don’t bother them.

We decide they probably just want to be left alone to dig into the curriculum, set-up their room, and tape name tags to desks.

And we would be assuming correctly.

It is true that a teacher transitioning to a new district, school, or grade-level will need and want uninterrupted time to attack the logistical side of their new position.

However, that is not all they need or want.

Micheal Atkins, in his book about onboarding, The First 90 Days, wrote,

“Transitions are periods of opportunity, a chance to start afresh and to make needed changes in an organization. But they are alos periods of acute vulnerability, because you lack established working relationships and a detailed understanding of your new role.”

Teachers do not always choose to make a transition. Many involuntary moves are made due to changes in enrollment within a school.

A teacher-in-transition may have taught for many years, but have they worked within this district? at this school? with these grade-level team members?

Transitional onboarding is the process of inducting an experienced teacher into a new teaching environment.

A teacher-in-transition may be:

  • external- coming from outside the district
  • local – coming from within the district
  • internal – coming form within the school

Regardless of where the teacher came from, each scenario carries with it specific needs that must be met to ensure effective onboarding.

Employing the following 5 Steps of Transitional Onboarding helps the teacher-in-transition hit their stride in less time (sooner and smoother).

  1. Elucidate – This step occurs prior to the hiring of a teacher for a given position. In this step the hiring team clarifies and verifies the alignment of the district, school, and grade-level goals with the job description and desired skills/experiences of potential candidates. (Full disclosure: Yes, I used “elucidate” instead of “clarify” to have all the steps begin with an E. Alliterations are awesome!)
  2. Empower – This is when the hiring occurs. Stakeholders need to be empowered to have a voice in the choice of the new hire. Decisions made in this step must be respectful of the legal and political factors within the  school.
  3. Enculturate – This is when the teacher-in-transition gets involved. The new. yet experienced, teacher, when hired, must be guided deliberately  through a process of enculturation. This process melds the transitioning teacher’ personal ideals with those of the existing organizational culture. It is through enculturation that significant grade-level team cohesion can be realized.
  4. Encourage – The teacher-in-transition must be provided opportunity to engage in reflective, purposeful, and supportive professional dialogue. This may be facilitated by an instructional coach, mentor, or within a professional learning community.
  5. Elevate – As the new, experienced teacher finds their way, they should be encouraged to step into leadership roles to become part of the very process that led them to a smooth transition into their new teaching environment.


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