Volume XLV No. 2
March/April 2003

"No Teacher Left Behind:
Mentoring Beginning Teachers"
Dr. Greg Thompson

Mentor teachers play a critical role in ensuring that “no (beginning) teacher is left behind.” Mentoring advances the abilities and successes of beginning teachers in this demanding profession. “The greatest attribute a beginning teacher can possess is the ability to ask for ideas or guidance in solving problems or enhancing their program,” according to Dale Crawford NAAE Region I Outstanding Mentor Teacher. The 30 year veteran describes his mentoring experiences as the pleasure of working with beginning teachers who are full of enthusiasm and hold a strong desire to succeed, but are limited in experience. However, suggestions and advice, when not asked for, seldom cause change. A successful mentor asks probing questions in an attempt to initiate dialogue. It is important that the beginning teacher as well as the mentor develop a mutual respect for each other and acknowledge expertise and experiences.

Mentoring provides professional development for the mentor as well as the beginning teacher. A top ten list of strategies for a successful mentoring program and tips for the mentor (M) and beginning teacher (BT) include:

1. Make mentoring a Team AgEd priority – involving teachers, teacher educators, and state supervisors.

M - As a state and district/region, set mentoring as a priority. Develop professional growth opportunities for beginning teachers on the district/region and state level.

BT - You can’t grow if you don’t go. If beginning teachers are truly interested in being their best, they will attend professional development activities, such as beginning teacher conferences, state in-service activities, and district/region meetings.

2. Achieving a mentor relationship is like falling in love – you can’t force it to happen.

M - Sometimes the “most successful” teachers may not be the best mentors. You don’t have to be the "appointed" teacher to mentor beginning teachers. Mentoring is a process requiring a team effort.

BT - The beginning teachers should select their own mentor. They should choose someone they feel comfortable visiting with or someone that they feel has the time to provide assistance. They should observe and research before choosing a mentor.

3. Develop a professional relationship of trust and confidence

M - The mentor teacher must develop a feeling of trust, of confidentiality and professionalism.

BT - The beginning teachers must trust that their mentors are truly interested in helping them become better teachers and is interested in their future.

4. Listen

M - The mentor doesn’t always have to give advice. Listen and many times the beginning teacher will solve their own problems just by talking it out.

BT - Listen to the experience behind the advice. The beginning teacher should process the advice and determine whether it will fit the situation.

5. Open Lines of Communication

M -The mentors must make the first steps to befriend the beginning teachers. Show you care and are truly interested in helping them grow professionally.

BT - The beginning teachers must be open and communicate their challenges to their mentors. Problems can’t be solved unless they are revealed.

6. Making Contact

M -Regular contact is a key ingredient to successful mentoring. The mentor teacher should contact the beginning teacher at least once each week by e-mail, phone, or a personal visit.

BT - Communication is a two-way street. Mentoring doesn’t happen if the communication is one-way. The beginning teacher should make an effort to observe the mentor teacher’s program, activities, and classes.

7. Visit the Beginning Teacher

M -The mentor teacher, the teacher educator, and the state supervisor should visit the beginning teacher throughout the year to provide assistance and support. The teacher should be observed in a teaching situation.


No Teacher Left Behind

Ideas Unlimited

NAAE Convention Speakers

2002-03 NAAE Board and Alt VPs

Teacher Spotlight

2002 Teacher Mentor Awards

Washington Beat

Associated Landscape Contractors

DEPCO AgriScience Basics

Regional Updates

NAAE – A “TEAM” Player

Retiring NAAE Board Members

2002 NAAE Award Recipients

AAVIM; US Army Sponsorship

“Teachers Turn the Key” Program

Pioneer Hi-Bred International

US Ag Ed Listserv

Dates and Events

BT - The beginning teacher must be willing to improve by being observed in the class that is the biggest challenge. We don’t need to see the dog and pony show. We already know you are good; show us your most challenging class.

8. Keep Administrators Informed

M -Let the school administrator know the positive things that are happening with the beginning teacher. A positive letter to the administrator goes a long way in helping the beginning teacher gain confidence and build rapport with the school administrator.

BT - As a courtesy, inform the administrator when the mentor is coming to visit during school hours.

9. Providing Recognition

M - Team AgEd, at the state and national levels, should recognize mentor teachers for their time and effort in providing a valuable service to the profession.

BT - Beginning teachers should show appreciation to their mentors. A simple thank you or a note of appreciation goes a long way.

10. Evaluate the Mentoring Program

M - At the end of the year, mentor teachers should send out an evaluation instrument to their beginning teacher protégés to get feedback on the mentoring program. If the mentoring program is being conducted by an organization, such as the state agricultural educators association, that organization should conduct the evaluation. Mentors can also ask for personal feedback.

BT - Beginning teachers must be honest when participating in the evaluation. Professionalism and confidentiality must be exercised when collecting and analyzing the data. The evaluation can help improve aspects of the program that aren’t working well.

By the end of this decade there will have been an 80 percent turnover of teachers. We are faced with the challenge to redefine our profession. This is an opportunity, a charge, and a mission for the veteran teachers to leave a legacy of positive expectations with new teachers. This is an opportunity, a charge, and a mission for beginning teachers to create a revolutionary change in the teaching profession.

March/April 2003
NAAE News & Views
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