Teach100 Mentor: First-Year Teacher Mentoring


Though most teachers experience some back-to-school jitters in September, first year teachers undoubtedly have the most anxiety to cope with. From navigating paperwork and logistics to managing classrooms full of students, the learning curve can be steep.

That's why so many schools have adopted first-year teaching mentoring programs--including 60% of our surveyed Teach100 Mentors, who also report having mostly been mentored during their own first year (67%).

So how important is this practice, and how much does it actually help with retention (undoubtedly the desired result)?

We asked our Teach100Mentors and here's what they had to say:

Have you mentored other teachers? What did you learn from the experience? What did you need to provide assistance or guidance with the most?

“As a Special Education teacher, I realized that the perspective is so different than General Education that to transition is very difficult for most teachers. The big challenge: seeing the big picture (the whole classroom) while attending to the student's individual needs. A unique teaching assignment.” Melanie Link Taylor, MsTeachuh

“Yes. I learned to listen and not be quick to judge. Thoughtful sharing of my own experiences was key. I needed time set aside to help mentor my new colleague.” Karen Bolotin, KB Konnected

“I learnt that what I assume is easy or not scary isn't the same for everyone. It was good for me to have to think about my own teaching practice rather than take what I do for granted” Rachel Jones, Create, Innovate, Explore

As a first-year teacher, what would you have appreciated having a mentor to help you with? (And if you DID have a mentor, what were they most helpful with?)

"I would have appreciated more input concerning the ability to not be baited by middleschoolers. The best advice I did receive was to keep in close contact with parents." Melanie Link Taylor, MsTeachuh

"My mentor was instrumental in helping me navigate the waters and minor things that just aren't covered in college classes or textbooks." Christopher J. Nesi, House of #EdTech

"Teaching isn't the sort of profession in which a newly-hired person knows everything that you have to know. It is helpful to have someone their to say that it is OK to still be learning the best way to handle different situations." Peter Cincotta, What's So Good About Public Education In America?

"Yes... I was in multiple buildings." Jeff Bradbury, TeacherCast

"Yes. I was the only special ed. teacher in our building. It was my first teaching job. It would have helped. The Art teacher and two grade level teachers befriended me, but couldn't help with the academics." Marcia, Learning in Bliss

"I think most Helpful was being encouraged to reflect on lessons in a meaningful way. It's easy to rush into the next thing without giving enough thought as to why a lesson did or didn't work." Rachel Jones, Create, Innovate, Explore

Do you think mentors are an effective way to combat new teacher burnout? How might mentors specifically increase the odds of keeping a new teacher in the field?

"Rather than only specified meetings, a spontaneous ‘how are you doing, here's a snack' is also important. Honesty plus caring might just keep teachers teaching." Melanie Link Taylor, MsTeachuh

"Mentors are great sounding boards and serve in the role of role model and also counselor. The best way a mentor can help a new teacher is to coach them--not direct them. Show them the hows and whys." Christopher J. Nesi, House of #EdTech

"New teachers need support. They need to know what "normal" is." Marcia, Learning in Bliss

"Mentors have the potential to help with burn out, but too often the mentor is just selected. I think they need to be paired more effectively and there needs to be time set aside to spend with the mentee. Building relationships always helps make the challenging times easier, so this can be helpful." Starr Sackstein, www.starrsackstein.com

"I think mentors can help with new teacher burnout. Helping new teachers see that they are not alone and that they are experiencing common challenges and frustration make managing those issues easier." Lisa Friedman, Removing the Stumbling Block

"Not they way done in my district. Mentoring is a 1/2 time job and it was treated like something that would take an hour a week. Mentors need to have release time to be most effective." Todd Bloch, Sweat to Inspire

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