Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Mentor Matching Does Matter

Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Mentor Matching Does Matter

Article excerpt

Introduction

Teacher induction includes practices that help new teachers on the road to becoming educational professionals. Howe (2006) described the benefits of superior teacher induction as including the ability to attract better candidates, reduce attrition, improve job satisfaction, enhance professional development, and improve teaching and learning. It is well accepted that one aspect of superior teacher induction is a strong mentoring relationship (Ingersoll & Smith, 2011). Mentoring is a component of many state-facilitated teacher certification programs, but the pairing procedures for mentees and mentors are often left to the discretion of personnel in each district.

The study took place in a suburban Connecticut school district that employs more than 500 state-certified, full-time educators in 13 schools. District C historically employs 10-20 new teachers each year. State law requires all new teachers be assigned a mentor as the primary component of the state's teacher-induction program (McQuillan, 2008). The district leaders are responsible for soliciting veteran teachers to be mentors and sending them for state training. The current mentor-pairing procedure in this district is facilitated by the state-required district Teacher Education and Mentoring (TEAM) Coordinating Committee (TCC). The TCC examines the lists of new hires with less than 2 years of experience and of state-trained mentors and creates pairs based on main school assignment. At the time of the study, no criteria existed other than assigned location.

Problem

School District C makes a concerted effort to provide an appropriate level of induction for all new hires. An orientation is planned each year to include background information regarding the district, community, curriculum, benefits, and state requirements for new teachers. A mentor is assigned within the first month of school as required by the state, and training is provided to new teachers on how to use state resources such as sample papers, reflection paper guidelines, and mentor-meeting topic suggestions. Induction program "graduates" are celebrated with balloons and fancy pencils for their students at the conclusion of the state process. This current induction process has been in place since 2010 with minor changes from year to year.

The problem at the research site was that the matching of experienced and beginning teachers was perceived as ineffective by beginning teachers. Wong (2002, 2004, & 2005) and Johnson and Kardos (2002) provided evidence that beginning teachers need a comprehensive induction program that includes a strong mentor relationship. During an initial cycle of action research, new hires shared concerns regarding the effectiveness of their mentoring relationships. Districts struggling with budget constraints and time limitations often need to set priorities that may not allow for the kind of all-inclusive teacher support that has been proven to be the most successful. The matching of mentors and mentees solely based on building assignment proved ineffective in many cases and, in conjunction with other issues, caused some new teachers to leave the school district.

Research Questions

The purpose of this research study was to investigate how use of more detail in the mentor-pairing procedure could improve the perceptions of novice teachers regarding their mentoring relationships. The success of the intervention was evaluated based on new teachers' perceptions of the mentoring relationship. Two research questions (RQ) guided the study:

RQ1: How will utilizing a database of mentor specialties and availability during the pairing process affect the quality of mentoring relationships at District C?

RQ2: To what extent will the development of a mentor-pairing procedure improve the induction process at suburban school District C?

Review of Research Regarding Teacher Induction

To assist in answering the research questions, the researcher did extensive synthesis of the literature-summarized briefly here-in the areas of teacher attrition, comprehensive teacher induction, role of leadership, mentoring in general, and mentor pairing in particular. …

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