We asked education professionals with varied levels of experience in mentoring about the job and how they approach it. Here's the fourth in a series of responses to four questions:
Where do you find the best resources for mentoring?
Credit: Courtesy of Adam Dementieff
Day-to-day interaction with other mentors and staff through email, on the telephone, and via Skype has been an enormous support for me as a first-year mentor. Both the tools I've gotten through formal training and access to the Web have made it possible for me to find useful materials that will help beginning teachers address the specific abilities and needs of the students in their classrooms.
-- Betty Walters, Alaska Statewide Mentor Project. Walters travels the state to mentor first- and second-year teachers in multiple subjects.
Lupe Ferran Diaz
Credit: Courtesy of J. Alsop
Several Web sites have been extremely helpful: The University of West Florida's Lesson Architect page walks you through the entire process of creating standards-based lesson plans. It is a useful tool that allows you to save lesson plans and edit them later. Quia.com gives you the ability to create customized educational software online, which you can build around a class and make available to students over the Web. Quia offers assessment and analysis tools and classroom-management features such as class pages, calendars, and grade books. All features are intuitive, and you learn as you go.
On Delicious, you use tags to organize and remember your bookmarks. Teachers can use Delicious to keep links to favorite articles, lessons, book reviews, and research-related articles, so even if they save their bookmarks at home, they can still access them at school.
-- Lupe Ferran Diaz, full-time teacher, Miami Beach Senior High School, Miami Beach, Florida. For five years, Diaz has mentored for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, where she supports new teachers, veterans preparing for national board certification, and instructors who need technology training.
The best resources come from being part of a professional learning community with colleagues at the Chicago New Teacher Center. Every week, we gather for staff meetings or forums, opportunities for us to think about our day-to-day coaching practice and solve problems around common issues. Every eight weeks, we delve deep into the processes of coaching and supporting beginning teachers through intensive, three-day professional development programs called mentor academies. All of this gives me a chance to collaborate with people who are doing this actual work every day, which deepens my knowledge of effective coaching practices.
Lately, partner coaching has enhanced my practice by lending another set of eyes and ears to my work in various classroom settings. Two heads are better than one.
-- Sharon Grady, Chicago Public Schools, in partnership with the Chicago New Teacher Center. Over the past six years, she has worked with P-8 teachers in general and special education.
Credit: Courtesy of K. Andrews
Attending the annual symposium at the New Teacher Center, at the University of California at Santa Cruz, has been a great way to learn, refine, and expand the strategies I use with mentees. Washington's Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction also provides the chance to meet monthly with other mentors from the western region of the state. This provides a great opportunity to share ideas for programming and for mentoring beginning teachers.
-- Mylinda Mallon, Lake Washington School District, Redmond, Washington. In her six years of mentoring, she's worked with teachers in all grade levels but now focuses on K-6 teachers in both general and special education.
Credit: Courtesy of Melissa Barkin
I've been fortunate to be the recipient of a lot of Teach for America's excellent resources for new teachers. My most useful resources have come from that program. I have also found helpful some resources that have come from Region I, our local teacher-support center.
-- Melissa Barkin, Roma High School, Rio Grande Valley, Texas. Barkin teaches full time, and she mentors a first-year social studies colleague. She trained new Teach for America instructors last summer.
Credit: Courtesy of Frantz Prospere
My resources come from a variety of places: teacher manuals, my library of professional-development workshop trainings, other teachers, the reading, math, and science coaches assigned to our school, and even our administrators. Both administrators started out as teachers, and they have an outstanding wealth of knowledge and resources.
-- Frantz Prospere, Miami Dade County Public Schools, District 4, Florida. Prospere is a full-time behavior-management teacher who mentors beginning instructors at his site.
Teaching the Teachers: A Guide to Mentoring Categories
Informal: Though the majority of states mandate and sometimes fund formal teacher-mentor programs, many do not. Concerned principals in these states may assign buddy teachers, pairing new teachers with experienced volunteers. Buddy teachers usually focus on psychological support and coping strategies rather than educational development.
Master teachers: Mandatory programs pair beginning teachers with tenured teachers, teachers with master's degrees, or those with three or more years of experience. Districts may pay stipends with local or state funds and often give release time for mentors to observe new teachers in the classroom. In rare cases, mentors provide formal evaluations.
Mentor teams: A portion of state-mandated programs require a team approach in which some mentors fulfill the social-support function; others assess the novice's performance for purposes of employment or certification.
Outside mentors: Some districts partner with nearby universities to bring college faculty on site to mentor new teachers. The universities or state grants usually fund these programs.
Do-it-yourself: In districts with no mandates or a shortage of mentors, new teachers can seek out their own informal mentoring relationships. Teachers can even do mentoring via email through Web sites such as Teaching.com's MightyMentors.