Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Making Mentoring Matter: Perspectives from Veteran Mentor Teachers

Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Making Mentoring Matter: Perspectives from Veteran Mentor Teachers

Article excerpt

In this article, two veteran mentor teachers discuss the importance of high-quality mentoring for novice teachers and share reflections of what they learned from their mentoring experiences as brief case studies. The need for quality mentoring is apparent; however, the reality is that budget constraints hinder efforts in many districts to provide adequate support for new teachers. Other conditions serve as obstacles to effective mentoring programs as well. Finally, this article abo illuminates the fact that even as mentoring expands the knowledge, skills, and confidence levels of novice teachers, the mentor, too, benefits from the professional growth opportunity as she learns a great deal from the experience.

Imagine beginning a career characterized by low pay, low status, relentless demands, exhausting work, and poor working conditions. You lack the necessary materials to do your job effectively, your building is outdated and dilapidated, and many of the people who work with you seem unmotivated, rude, or unreasonable. Would you stay with this career? Many new teachers do not. In fact, up to half leave the profession within 5 years of beginning their careers in education (Johnson et al,, 2004, p, 12).

A myriad of concerns has befallen the education profession in recent decades. The latter part of the 20th century was beset by the hue and cry of the general public and policymakers regarding the lack of curricular standards and accountability practices, School buildings became violent places and centers of deception in the eyes of industry leaders, who found newly hired graduates sorely lacking in the very workplace skills and attitudes they were expected to possess. The century ended, leaving as its legacy high-stakes testing and assessments, new standards for instruction and graduation requirements, and an increased focus on security and safety in schools. Caught in the middle are America's teachers, historically overworked and underpaid, and under stress in a polemical educational climate with concerns for personal safety, a profound lack of control over curriculum and instruction, and, all too often, little administrative or collégial support,

Not surprisingly, many teachers choose to leave education after just a few years, Statistics indicate that although teaching is a relatively stable occupational category (Henke & Zahn, 2003), 18%-50% of teachers choose to leave their positions after the first 3 to 5 years. Coupled with attrition from retirements and other reasons, rising enrollments, and class size reduction initiatives, their departures leave districts scrambling to get qualified teachers into classrooms - and there to stay. When highly qualified, skilled individuals choose to leave teaching early on, their professional growth is stunted and their potential unrealized. In addition, teacher turnover in schools has a profound effect on the learning community as a whole and disrupts the educational process, thus impacting student learning.

In exposing the organizational and cultural factors that influence teachers' decisions to stay in their positions, migrate to other schools, or leave teaching entirely, we know that mentoring can address some conditions, thereby increasing new teacher retention. We define mentor as an experienced teacher who assists, coaches, consults with, collaborates with, and guides new teachers to support their transition from novices to successful educators committed to the profession. As mentors, we are released from full-time teaching responsibilities to support a caseload of newly hired teachers. Our assignments include mentoring novices in all content areas, prekindergarten through Grade 12, in an economically and ethnically diverse district comprised of more than 12,000 students. As veteran educators with 60 years' experience between us, we recognize and witness common obstacles to new teachers' success. We, too, have experienced the overwhelming demands and challenges that characterize teachers' careers. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.