New-Teacher Mentoring: What’s It All About?

Starting any new job is difficult. As a new member of the corporate workforce or a new nurse at a hospital, you are usually paired up with a mentor or work under a 

manager that guides you and shows you the ropes so you can successfully do your job in the long run, so why not do the same for new teachers? Luckily, many first-year teachers do not have to go into the jungle and face real-life workplace problems alone thanks to New-Teacher Mentoring Programs.

What Is New-Teacher Mentoring?

New-teacher mentoring programs are set in place to help new teachers successfully transition into their jobs. New teachers are paired with a veteran teacher who acts as a mentor and teaches the new teachers about classroom management, available resources, and school procedures. Most importantly they offer support throughout the entire transition process and into the future.

Why Do Schools Do It?

According to the most recent statistics provided by Center for American Progress, it is estimated that 70 percent of new teachers would stay for at least five years. Although that is a rather large percentage, what about the other 30 percent that do not? The Washington Post adds to this by explaining that despite results from previous studies on new teacher retention rates, in their longitudinal study only about 17 percent of new teachers left their jobs in the first five years. Overall, we can say that this is an increasingly positive outlook for new-teachers and school systems.

However, statistics are just numbers and it’s easy to see that there are slight inconsistencies between studies. Relevant conclusions in the studies are in fact the same: according to the Washington Post, new teachers who go through the mentoring programare more likely to continue teaching than those who are not assigned mentors. Education Week estimates that 86 percent of new teachers with first-year mentors continued to teachwhile 71 percent continued without mentors. The importance of mentorship is clearly indispensible for new teachers but also school systems.

Higher teacher retention rates means that school districts do not have to spend money on teacher recruitment or teacher training. The process not only costs a lot of money but also takes a lot of time away from policy creation. With this rate of teacher retention, it is project by NPR that school districts are forced to spend about 2.2 billion dollars to find replacements. That is a ton of money! These are funds that can be spent directly on other school resources.

Most of all, stability of teachers in schools directly affects the students. Each teacher has their style and is naturally gets better at teaching the more years under the belt they have. However, with the introduction of new teachers every year because of low teacher retention rates, teachers do no get to further themselves and students are exposed to different and sometimes difficult teaching styles. About 15 million children in the U.S. have to deal with this revolving door of teachers every year, according to New Teacher Center. This is especially hard when high schools offer programs such as an International Baccalaureate program that requires students to take 2-year long classes. Student then would have to learn to adapt to the teacher’s new style and absorb new material from the class.

How Many Schools/What Type of Schools Do it?

All across the United States, more and more school districts are picking up teacher-mentor programs. Many implement these programs through partnerships with nearby colleges or local teacher unions. Others pair with organizations such as the New Teacher Center or the National Foundation for Improvement of Education. Since teacher retention rates are such a national problem, there are teacher mentor programs in not only public schools but also private, BOCES, and charter schools.

New teacher mentor programs are the sustainable change that school districts everywhere should implement. However, whether you are thinking of being a mentor or a mentee, there are considerations to take in mind before you jump in. For prospective mentors, know that each school district is different in their rules and regulations. For example, in New York City, teachers who want to be mentors must apply to the State for an Initial Certification. Then after one year of mentoring with this certificate, they earn their Professional Certificate. However in order to even be considered for a mentor position, the minimum preferred requirement is 5 years of teaching and excellent soft skills such as commitment, communication/interpersonal skills, and subject matter skills. These requirements vary among states. For prospective teachers, find a state or district that you think you’d fit well with. This will make you more comfortable and confident even before you start.

Tips for Teachers Doing the Mentoring (The Mentors)

1. Ask questions

Check in with your mentee and ask them about their concerns, expectations and needs so both of you are on the same page. This helps create good communication and a healthy relationship. It might be hard at first to earn their trust, but worker relationships take time in any scenario. Don’t get discouraged.

2. Be Non-judgemental and Supportive

There are many pathways to success and new teachers may have different teaching styles. Give advice from your expertise but do not constrict or force new teachers into any corners.

3. Co-teach with the new teacher

Co-teaching is a great way for them to see the standards set within a classroom and the teaching strategies that you implement. It also gives you a chance to understand what they are and are not comfortable with which provides the opportunity to see growth and progress in your mentee.

Tips For New Teachers To Get The Most Out Of Their Mentorship

1. Express Your Opinion

Your mentor is your teacher, and as the saying goes “there is no such thing as a stupid question.” Your job is to get to know your environment and how to work in balance with it. Asking questions allows you to understand your position better and reduce any future mistakes.

2. Identify Problems

Finding trouble spots early on can help out in the long run. If you identify any small problems now, you can fix them or adapt to them before they become major issues.

3. Be Confident

Yes, this is a new job, but all new jobs are overwhelming. You do have support whenever you need it. This is why the mentor program is in place, so you are supported along this new journey. You’re teaching generations of children and changing the future, take pride in your work!

–Yesenia Ye