Your New Teacher Onboarding Checklist: Retain Happy K-12 New Hires Before They Even Start 

Caroline Chessia | October 8, 2023

Teacher turnover costs school districts across the USA more than $8.5 billion annually–and turnover rates are higher among new teachers than experienced teachers. School districts & school boards that use digital onboarding as a way to integrate new teachers into the fold are finding this helps retain their teaching candidates.

The key to a successful onboarding process is to use the tools you have (or should have) at your disposal while maintaining a human touch to create a connection with each new employee. A structured onboarding process can help you do both.

interviewstream recently gave an informational session at the American Association for School Personnel Administrators Conference on how school districts can improve their onboarding practices to help with teacher retention. Here are some of the takeaways.


What is Structured Onboarding? 

Structured onboarding means having the right tools and resources to onboard all your candidates quickly and effectively, and that each new teacher knows who to reach out to and where to go for help. It means different orientation programs for just-graduated new teachers, experienced teachers, and educators switching to teaching from another profession (like being a substitute or paraprofessional). 


Why Does Structured Onboarding Matter?

Structured onboarding can help avoid teacher turnover (which in turn, saves school districts and school boards billions of dollars). An onboarding process done right can increase teacher retention rates by as much as 93%. When you develop and guide teachers from the beginning of your relationship, they are much more likely to stick around at your school.

Structured onboarding programs solve these common onboarding issues:

  • Issues that arise from lack of guidance and support in the first months of the school year
  • Lack of understanding of how to onboard new hires (a new hire coming straight from a teaching degree is vastly different from a new hire coming from another school district or career path)
  • Missed opportunities to collect teacher feedback at 30/60/90 days

These are just a few of the many reasons why K-12 school districts and school boards are working to create much more structured onboarding programs today.


Tigard-Tualatin’s Onboarding Best Practices for New Teachers 

“TTSD’s retention plan starts when we post a job description on a job board”, says Brian Bailey, Associate Director of Human Resources at Tigard-Tualatin School District. He looks for teachers that not only have the necessary skills and experience, but who share the same cultural values and align with Tigard-Tualatin’s mission.

Combine Automation And Human Touch In Pre-Employment Paperwork

Tigard-Tualatin is currently trying to automate paperwork so the process can be a bit more streamlined, but at the moment they have pre-employment meetings to collect fingerprints, do W-4’s, and any other paperwork that needs to be completed. 

The key to the pre-employment onboarding process is to automate where you can but not to lose the human touch. Submitting paperwork and scheduling times to meet can be done via a hiring tool. However, Tigard’s advice right now is to make sure your teachers are also getting face-to-face time so that they can ask questions.

Prioritize Professional Development at Orientation Before School Starts

Teachers and educators at TTSD have three professional development/orientation days before the start of the term. They use these days to give teachers resources, train them on what it’s like at their school (from submitting an absence request to figuring out where the staff bathrooms are), and create opportunities for new teachers to make connections with other staff at their school.


Create A Tiered Mentor Program

TTSD has a few levels of mentorship at their school district. This ensures that every new teacher knows where to go for their day-to-day, instructional, and big-picture issues. This is a great way to personalize staff development.

  • Tier A: The big-picture mentor. These are mentors who are compensated for the time they spend meeting with educators after hours throughout the school year. Think of them as a broad spectrum check-in on educators
  • Tier B: Instructional coaches. These coaches are there for any help new teachers need in creating lesson plans, engaging students, or covering their classes in case the teacher wants to watch a colleague run their class.
  • Tier C: Day-to-day mentors. Day-to-day mentors are colleagues that are paired with a new teacher. They might be in the same grade level or teach the same subject that the new employee is teaching. They’ll have the same planning periods, perhaps be co-teachers, and will generally help with all day-to-day issues.


Remote Onboarding Best Practices

Here are some more ways other interviewstream clients have fostered connection while streamlining their onboarding process. 

Use digital onboarding tools to save time

Digital platforms provide a centralized hub for all paperwork, minimizing the risk of error. Collecting documentation through an online onboarding platform saves valuable time that can then be used to create meaningful connections with your new hires.

Collect feedback post-onboarding with on demand video interviews

Using video interviewing software makes it easier for larger school boards & school districts to collect feedback in one centralized location. HR administrators can promptly review all teacher feedback without the need to coordinate visits to individual schools. This makes collecting feedback at the 30/60/90 day mark much easier.

Get new teachers excited to join your school with online videos 

Recorded videos featuring school leaders and students provide newly hired teachers with an immersive introduction to their new school. Sometimes new teachers won’t physically visit the school until the start of school in August/September, so these videos are a great way to showcase your culture and get new teachers excited to join you.

One school district leverages interviewstream’s recorded videos as a means to introduce key individuals to new teachers. They created various “teacher/administrator spotlights” to illustrate to new hires what a typical day at their school looks like.

Automate communication leading up to onboarding

An organized and simple onboarding process is a great onboarding process. Use automated workflows to make sure that tasks, forms, and checklists are completed on time. And, with scheduled due dates and auto-reminders, new teachers will submit all their documentation on time, without administrative nudging.


Digital Onboarding Checklist To Create a Structured Onboarding Process for Your District, School, or School Board

Remote onboarding and new teacher orientation allow you to get the paperwork out of the way before the school year begins. That way when new and experienced teachers are actually in the building, they can focus on building relationships and their professional development. A digital onboarding process could look like:

  • Create structure around your process to foster new hire success: New and returning teachers should submit all their paperwork electronically before the school year starts. This means no wasted time during professional development days filling out paperwork, and more time dedicated to helping new teachers fit in and prepare for their classes.

    Set clear expectations at the beginning of the process, and foster connections between your staff. Gather 30, 60, and 90 day feedback from your new hires to continuously check in on how they’re doing and how to improve your process. And, conduct pre-employment assessments to tailor your onboarding process to your staff’s experience level. 
  • Personalize the process for your staff: Tailoring staff development is essential for empowering your staff (both new and returning). Utilizing reusable content, such as videos and branded PDFs to make your mission, values, and culture an essential part of the process. Not only does this set up your team with a clear mission, vision, and culture, but it streamlines your process even further by eliminating more paper documentation. Additionally, establishing a mentor program plays a pivotal role in staff development and retention, fostering growth and loyalty within the organization. 
  • Boosting Efficiency through Streamlined Processes: Embrace modern solutions. Transition your process to online tools that can collect, store, and help staff complete documentation – as well as automate the communication around those tasks. Finally, create timelines and use task management software to keep your staff on track and monitor their progress so that nothing slips through the cracks. 


Use interviewstream To Onboard New Teachers Successfully

Successful and structured onboarding plays a pivotal role in teacher recruitment and retention. By implementing digital onboarding solutions, you can save time and manual processes associated with onboarding while maintaining the crucial human touch.

interviewstream’s video interviewing platform enhances every step of the onboarding journey, from document collection and storage to collecting and evaluating feedback from your team. See how you can improve onboarding with interviewstream – schedule a chat with us today.

About The Author

Caroline Chessia is the Marketing Operations Specialist at interviewstream. She loves color-coordinated graphs, hiking in the mountains, and every dog she meets—especially the Golden Retrievers.


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