Effective Mentoring Program
In the article, 6 Steps to an Effective Mentoring Program, the authors focus on what superintendents and administrators can do to create an effective mentoring program. This article directly relates to ISLLC Standard Two. An effective mentoring program helps new teachers become more confident and develop their instructional capacity. A district’s mentoring program also monitors the impact of the instructional program.
Veteran teacher are able to share their expertise with mentees and strengthen the instructional program of the school. First year teachers, can become very overwhelmed for many reasons. They often have too much to learn in a very short time. They many fell isolated from fellow educators, spending most of their day as the only adult in the classroom. They are also working hard to develop effective instructional practices and classroom management techniques. At the end of the year, first year teachers may feel frustrated, stressed, and unhappy with their jobs (Alexander & Alexander, 2010).
Developing an effective mentor program should be a high priority for superintendents because 20 percent of first year teachers leave the profession and more than 30 percent leave within the first five years (Alexander & Alexander, 2010). An effective mentor program can build confidence in new teachers and help districts retain teachers for longer. When districts lose teachers it costs them time and money to identify, evaluate, hire, and acclimate new teachers to district protocol and policy (Alexander & Alexander, 2010).
Mentoring programs can range anywhere from highly structured assistance and support activities to informal “buddy” systems. Effective programs should include comprehensive and sustained professional development along with training and support. Superintendents should be aware of what it takes to develop a successful mentor program. The article outlined six steps to a successful program. The first step is that the superintendent should develop a district wide mentoring program.
It should be organized, start at the beginning of the year, and allow for new teachers and veteran teachers to collaborate and set goals and objectives for the year. A second key step is to provide emotional support to the new teacher. The principal can provide formal, official support while the mentor can provide guidance and advice that inexperienced teachers need. A third step is to provide systematic, district-wide professional development training throughout the first three years for new mentors and beginning teachers.
This will help to ensure that all new teachers and even novice teachers that are new to the district will be provided consistent and comprehensive training over three years. There should be training in four distinct areas including: observation techniques, methods to identify classroom issues, establishing expectations for the school year, and communicating these expectations (Alexander & Alexander, 2010). This ongoing professional development will help new teachers to learn what is expected of them within the district.
The fourth step is to allow new teachers to observe in model classrooms and then receive feedback on their own practices. Administrators must help to schedule ongoing opportunities for new teachers to observe master teachers and then collaborate with their mentors on their personal instructional practices. This two-way communication will help new teachers to practice what they observe. The fifth step is to set aside time for new teachers to meet regularly with administrators and mentors.
These regular, weekly meetings will provide opportunities for new teachers to receive feedback about how they are doing and discuss concerns or ask for advice. Administrators must also remember that new teachers need additional time to prepare curriculum, develop grading protocols, become more computer literate, obtain answers to discipline questions, and to acclimate themselves to their new environment (Alexander & Alexander, 2010). This added support will help new teachers feel secure in their new positions.
The last step is to create a support group for new teachers. A support or study group containing new and veteran teachers that meet regularly can provide opportunities for new teachers to openly discuss issues in the classroom. They can problem solve as a group and new teachers will be safer to discuss what is going on in their classroom in a more informal setting. The task of creating a sustainable and effective mentoring program should be a high priority for any superintendent.
Investing in an effective program will help to retain better teachers longer. Teachers will receive comprehensive and consistent training and will be provide the support they need to become master teachers. This in turn will help to turn new teachers into future mentors.