Entering the world of education as a new teacher can often be considered an exciting, yet overwhelming experience. Mentoring new teachers is a crucial step for instructional leaders to support throughout this process. Developing a program requires careful preparation. To assist with this, consider these key elements when creating a mentoring program:
The goal is to develop overall professional confidence in the craft of teaching and engaging others.
Establishing positive relationships to help build a professional community will help new hires feel welcomed and a part of a larger team. Choosing mentors who are able to demonstrate empathy, a sense of understanding and a willingness to help will often help empower those who find themselves questioning.
Clearly outlining expectations for both the mentor and the mentee helps to provide a sense of purpose and direction. For example, setting the expectation of being active listeners will help support any concerns, challenges, and goals that are being sought after. Active listening can help build trust and rapport by acknowledging one another’s feelings and experiences and validating the many emotions involved in education. When a mentor and mentee are able to engage in regular constructive feedback it allows for the opportunity to celebrate successes, no matter how small, and provide guidance on areas where improvement might be needed.
Sometimes the best way to help build confidence is to arrange for the opportunity to observe one another in their teaching practices. Observing and engaging in effective teaching practices can help boost confidence and provide practical examples to build from. Ultimately, the goal is to help build teacher capacity to advance learning through standards-aligned, differentiated, and universally designed learning experiences.
The goal is to help provide a team of support and encourage the sharing of resources.
Opportunities for staff to collaborate and build trusting, caring, respectful, and honest relationships with stakeholders and new colleagues helps to anchor staff to their field. Opportunities for collaboration through the sharing of ideas, strategies, resources, etc. will help new hires understand and organize what is available to them. Reflective dialogue that unfolds during collaborative discussions supports the learning process and regular self-assessment of practices.
When colleagues learn to work together through the instructional planning process it can help share the workload as well as encourage them to explore different concepts. Additionally, collaboration may assist in problem-solving teaching-related challenges such as management and implementation of curricula.
Embrace the notion of a compass where experienced educators assist by providing guidance, serving as a compass, to help navigate the many nuances of the educational field.
The goal is to help provide direction in navigating the many nuances of the educational field. From finding out how to access the technology, to which instructional strategy works best, to which staff bathroom has the least wait time. This includes helping with setting up instructional learning environments inclusive of physical space and lesson plans and helping establish teaching goals and objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
Assistance in accessing resources and materials to help meet the goals is critical. This includes lesson plans, software systems, professional development opportunities, and more. Additionally, assisting new staff with time management can help maximize learning time. This includes coaching through prioritizing tasks, creating schedules, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Adaptability and flexibility in teaching needs to remain paramount as lessons and strategies are modified to best meet the diverse and ever-evolving needs of students.
By incorporating confidence, collaboration, and the compass into your mentoring program, instructional leaders and coaches can provide critical support and mentorship and welcome new professionals to the world of education with open arms and the tools they need to navigate the challenges of their early teaching careers.
Too busy to design and implement a mentorship program yourself? Learn about EQUIP for New Teachers, designed to support new teachers as you build and retain a sustainable teaching force.
About the Author
Dr. Bridget Amory holds a Doctoral Degree in Leadership and Innovation as well as a Master of Education in School Leadership and Instruction. With a background in educational leadership roles, Dr. Amory is currently the interim superintendent of Mildford School District and the Director of Student Learning.
Connect with Dr. Amory on social media, @BridgetAmory.