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We have two full time teachers on special assignment as mentor teachers in our district. They work with first year teachers, observe them officially twice a year although they have many, many hours in beyond that and actually do their evaluations for the first year. These mentors make a recommendation to a Mentor Review Panel as to whether a teacher should go on to the second year, during which they work with the building administrator. The administrator is only minimally involved with a teacher in the first year.Our district has received awards for this program; a concern that we have though is that with many, many retirements this year the caseload for next year for the mentors may be too large!
Our school assigns two people to help out each new teacher. Their mentor comes from their own department, and is often someone teaching some or all of the same classes. They also get assigned a "buddy," someone from a different department, who helps them more with the culture of the school, helping them find their way, helps introduce them around, and generally becomes their friend.
All new teachers are assigned mentors for three years at our school. In addition, teachers new to our building are assigned mentors for one year, regardless of work experience.
Teachers are only assigned mentors if they have to pass the teacher assessment to keep their certificate and the purpose of that mentor is only to help them get the work done for the assessment. the assessment. They are not even teachers working in their own certification area.
Good mentoring could help reduce attrition, especially if the mentors were working with the same type of child as the mentee. Every teacher with less than three years of experience should have a mentor. In the case of first year teachers whose have undergraduate degrees in education and no experience and those with alternate certification and less than 3 years the mentor should have a period each day which is to be spent with the new teacher. After that, if the teacher is doing ok and is still positive about staying in the field, the time can be cut to 2-3 times per week in the second and once a week in the third year. The alternate certified will probably need two years of daily mentoring before cutting down and 4 years altogether (if they last that long). A major task of the mentor should be advocacy and attrition prevention so that teachers with potential remain in the field. They should also do hands on training. If their class can be located next door to the mentee's class, that would be best so that if the inexperienced teacher's class gets out of control, the mentor can be there right away to straighten things out and figure out what is going wrong. This can help prevent the teacher "walking" at Thanksgiving.
Experienced teachers who are new to the system have different needs. What they need is a dependable go-to person who knows how to do that systemm's paperwork, teach them the culture of the school and make sure that mandatory things get done correctly. The Go-to, should have one period per day free where she can see all her experienced new teachers. Special education teachers, in particular, need a special ed Go To because of our paperwork. Sometimes this role could be filled by a quality Department Chair or Lead, but there needs to be a specific time during the day when her only role should be looking after her teachers. The go-to should function heavily as an advocate especially for veteran educators who have had bad experiences in other systems, as opposed to those who moved because of their husband's job or to take care of an ailing parent.
Both Go-tos and Mentors need to ensure that those they work with get scheduled for off-campus professional development that meets their unique needs (such as special inservices in assistive technology for special ed. people) and advocate to the administration if the teacher feels that she is being treated unfairly. She should be able to negotiate against evaluations that have political overtones, prevent good teachers from not being recontracted and be free to call on the union for help when necessary.
The mentor in our building is the new "school growth teacher." She had to mentor 15+ new people this year in addition to her many other duties. She is not actively teaching. She is expected to know everything about everything. She conducts staff training on topics selected by administration and acts like a pseudo-administrator.
In past years, teachers mentored teachers either one-on-one or two-on-one. They did away with that system. I was mentored by someone who really could relate to me because she was right there in the trenches with me. That experience really helped me stay in teaching.
I personally mentored four or five other people. No teacher that I mentored has quit to my knowledge. I can't say that for this year's crop of newbies.
I think that many administrators pay lip service to the new ideas and enthusiasm that young teachers bring with them to the work place, but they still want them to perform much as teachers do with 20 years of experience. In other words, they forget that they are still in their 20's and that they will make mistakes as well as try new things that might not be the norm. We who have been around for awhile need to be more open to the freshness and creativity of young teachers or there will not be any of them around to take over for us!