Mentoring, training and coaching programs for novice teachers are excellent ways to improve the quality of skills and knowledge of a new teacher, his job satisfaction, and his professional competence. These programs available for the new teacher are also effective means of enhancing the student’s abilities and the mentor’s skills as well. In many US schools, these mentoring programs are mandatory to ensure that the new teacher is fully capable of handing the classes.
In some schools, mentoring programs are instituted not only to prepare the new teacher for the job but also as a way of addressing the problem of teacher shortage. A recent news published on Contra Costa Times reveals that almost 25% of new teachers in California leave their job in their first four years of teaching because of lack of support from the administration and fellow teachers. Also, the mentoring program adds bureaucratic burden both for the novice teachers and their mentors. Apart from the additional responsibilities that are given to the teachers, there’s a lot of paperwork that needs to be accomplished. This includes preparing lesson plans, evaluations, and progress and accomplishment reports.
In order to ensure that mentoring programs are successfully implemented, here are some tips and pointers to remember:
• Eliminate unnecessary paperwork and requirements – this has been recommended by UC Riverside researchers after finding out that a lot of mentors and new teachers engaged in the program are complaining about the repetitive tasks and extra paperwork they need to accomplish. Aside from the fact that neophyte teachers are already overwhelmed by their new responsibilities, they are still burdened with lots of paperwork including preparing lesson plans, which usually consumes so much of their time. It is recommended that programs should focus on mentoring itself. The new and veteran teachers may engage in less taxing activities that would allow them to interact and share knowledge, skills and experiences freely.
• New teachers must be matched with the right mentors – It is important for the new teacher and the mentor to interact without any inhibition. To be able to achieve this, the administrators must strive to match news teachers with mentors who share with them same qualities and interests. This would allow the new teacher to freely ask questions and ask for tips and advices from the mentor.
• Have separate evaluators – In order for the mentor and the new teacher to focus on their main tasks, they must be relieved from doing additional tasks such as evaluation of the program. A separate evaluator who shall meet the veteran and the new teachers to discuss the progress of the mentoring program may be assigned.
• Conduct regular assessment of the whole mentoring program – Campus-level administrators should not only evaluate progress of the newly hired teachers but as well as the whole mentoring, training and coaching program of the school, which includes the mentors capability to coach neophyte teachers, the process of mentoring, the students’ progress vis-à-vis to the new teachers’ progress during the program, and other forms of support and assistance given to the new teacher.
It is also important to determine the thoughts or opinions of other teachers about the program and its impact on their desire to stay or leave the school or the teaching profession. These things are vital to the implementation and improvement not only of the mentoring programs of the particular school but of others as well.