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School District No. 42 Mentorship Program
School District 42’s Teacher Mentorship Program is available to new teachers and continuing teachers who make a significant change in their teaching assignment. Through the collaborative efforts of teachers, principals and program coordinators, new teachers are connected with a district mentor teacher and / or experienced colleagues who offer support, guidance, encouragement, resources, and time to assist them in the many demands of their new teaching role.
Mentorship Program Goals
- to provide personal and professional supports for beginning teachers in their first year(s) of classroom teaching
- to provide support for teachers experiencing a significant change in assignment
- to provide support for teachers returning from leave
Highlights of Program
- New Teacher Orientation: In late August teachers new to the district are invited to a presentation that provides them with information to assist with start-up activities. The information includes an orientation to district services, ideas for the first days in school, and an introduction to key persons in the district.
- At the elementary level direct one to one mentoring/ assistance is provided by a district mentor teacher. The district mentor teacher provides individual classroom support, observations/ team teaching opportunities, resource and networking information. This can include facilitating the opportunity for the teacher to observe in other classrooms. Guidance and ideas related to classroom management, scheduling, planning and organizing are also available. Additionally, experienced teachers who make a significant change in assignment are assisted with forming a mentor partnership. Release time is offered to all members of the mentorship program to provide the opportunity to meet and plan together.
- At the secondary level, release time is offered to mentorship partners and teams throughout the year. Days are used to assist new teachers in a variety of duties that include long-term planning, evaluation and reporting, and resource-gathering. Partners also use the time for classroom observations and professional growth. Mentoring partnerships are designed to meet the diverse needs of teachers. In most cases this means mentors are chosen from within the school and grade level or subject area of the mentee.
- Professional Growth: District workshops are offered throughout the year for elementary and secondary teachers. They are designed to highlight areas of best practice, and to emphasize those strategies and practices identified by new teachers as being most useful to their first classroom experience. Workshops typically include: Classroom Management, Assessment and Evaluation, Reporting, Communicating with Parents, Curriculum Planning, Integrating Students with Special Needs, and Differentiated Instruction. Attendance at these workshops is optional.
- One-year Commitment: Mentors agree to assist the mentee for the duration of the school year.
Qualities of Mentors
- be empathetic and able to understand the new teacher's perspective
- have well-developed communication skills - active listening, paraphrasing, reflecting
- be a reflective practitioner - reflect on how, what and why they teach - model reflective practice for mentees
- model problem-solving process - not to solve problems for the mentee but to assist the new teacher in the process - self-sufficiency is the key
- be excited about teaching and have an expectation of continued professional growth
- be non-judgmental and able to see positive aspects and help mentee to build on those aspects
- have knowledge of district resources and procedures
- be committed to mentee for at least one year
be able and willing to give time for:
- impromptu discussions
- regular (perhaps scheduled) meetings with their mentee
Comments from Participants
"Mentoring has helped me take a closer look at different things I do in the classroom and more clearly understand the importance of particular systems I have in place. Being a mentor has really helped me examine and better understand my own practices."
"The mentoring program has allowed me to rethink and reconsider how I go about things in my classroom. When I try to answer a question for the new teacher I am working with, I am also asking myself, is my advice really the best way to solve the problem? It gets you thinking about best practices, and that leads to positive change."
"It's helped me to question my teaching practices and philosophies. It has helped me to learn from my various discussions with a new fresh mind."
"This program has helped me to cope with all of the pressure of being a new teacher. I often wonder what I would do without my mentor to support me, especially on those days when I feel overwhelmed! She gives me ideas, feedback and endless support!"
"My mentor has been a tremendous support this year, not only in my queries and concerns, but in my moments of joy. She has pushed my learning and professional development. Instead of just surviving, I am flourishing and learning SO MUCH this year."
"It has been a good way to get to know other beginning teachers. I appreciate the open-endedness of the program so that it can be tailored to fit each individual teacher."
"I feel more at ease about what I am doing knowing someone is there to help."