Lead Mentors play a crucial role in the schools. They are instrumental in establishing and maintaining an effective program for supporting new teachers. They work closely with new educators, mentors, school administrators, and school district personnel to support new educators. Because each school provides its own unique set of opportunities, resources, and challenges, the Lead Mentor will tailor the program toward those unique circumstances. This site is meant to provide some tools and resources that might be adapted by Lead Mentors as they design and implement their own new educator support program.
Components of a New Educator Program
There are as many possibilities for meeting schedules as there are schools. So instead of attempting to provide a template, there are some questions that might be considered when building a schedule for new educator meetings.
Who should attend the meetings?
In some schools, provisional educators and mentors attend meetings together. In some schools, they meet separately.
How often should meetings be held?
Again, this is a decision that must be answered at each school. Some schools hold meetings with new teachers weekly. Others hold them monthly. Some hold them weekly during the first term and monthly following that first term. In the end, the answer of the question of how often depends on the need of the new educators and the constraints of the school.
What should be discussed during the meeting?
A wide range of topics might be discussed at meetings. There are some topics that fall under the need-to-know variety that can serve as a starting point. Other topics will be developed to address specific needs which arise in the real-world practice of those involved. In this way, the topics discussed are embedded in the practice of teachers yielding deeper and longer lasting effects.
Resources for making meetings more effective
An increasingly vital component of a new educator support program is that participants participate in observations. As with other components, there are many options available for consideration. In the end, the decision of how to conduct observations is best left to the participants at the school level to make. The following points might help guide the development of a practice of observation,
The type of observation done by educators of each other should be understood as distinct and separate from the type conducted by administrators of educators. The purposes of peer-to-peer observations are meant to be instructive and formative not evaluative.
One method that has found traction in many schools is called walk-through observations. This type of observation is easily adaptable to many different situations. It is intended to be quickly implemented, non threatening, and focused on improving instruction which leads to improved student learning. Feeney (2014) discusses ways to design and implement an effective system. Whatever shape the observations take, it is important to remember to do the following.
Design a Protocol
This ensures that all participants know how to observe and how they will be observed.
Set a purpose
This lets participants know what they are looking for and what they are expected to demonstrate.
Remember to debrief and reflect
Doing this helps to ensure that the discussion will lead to meaningful and lasting change in practice.
Resources for observations
Recent research has pointed to coaching as a powerful method of developing teaching practices and increasing student learning. According to Sailors and Shanklin (2010) "Many in the field have trusted that intuitive feeling that putting a knowledgeable coach in a classroom to work with a teacher will result in improved teacher practices and increased student learning. The jury of these researchers and the peer reviewers of their work has delivered its verdict: while coaching may be new, it is no longer unproven." In short, coaching works. As with any initiative, developing a coaching mindset presents some questions and obstacles. When approaching this, it is good to look at others who have done it successfully and try to replicate their process. Below are a few resources that might help to do this.
Resources for coaching