Teacher Left Behind:
Mentoring Beginning Teachers"
Dr. Greg Thompson
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.
- As a state and district/region, set mentoring
as a priority. Develop professional growth opportunities
for beginning teachers on the district/region and
- 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
a mentor relationship is like falling in love
– you can’t force it to happen.
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.
- 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.
a professional relationship of trust and confidence
- The mentor teacher must develop a feeling of trust,
of confidentiality and professionalism.
- The beginning teachers must trust that their mentors
are truly interested in helping them become better
teachers and is interested in their future.
- 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.
- 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
-The mentors must make the first steps to befriend
the beginning teachers. Show you care and are truly
interested in helping them grow professionally.
- 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
-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.
- 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
-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.