New teachers are the future of agricultural education. They begin their teaching careers with high expectations, both for themselves and their students. Sometimes, running an agriculture education program can be a lonely, difficult task. Beginning teachers often need leadership and guidance throughout their induction years. At the same time, they are often so busy with the day-to-day tasks of formulating lesson plans, managing their FFA program, and the million other things that come with being an agriculture educator, they lack the time to seek out help. Sometimes, even if they want help, they are unsure of where to turn. Without a helping hand, new teachers can feel cut off, isolated, and discouraged.
There are also other ways to support early career teachers besides just mentoring. Many states have teacher induction programs, which utilize many tools, including seminars, web pages and other things to help them get into the swing of things.
No one knows better what an early career teacher needs than someone who's been there. If you're an agriculture educator with experience, take some time to help out a new teacher in your area. There are lots of ways you can get involved. Take a look at what your state does to mentor new ag teachers, and contact the person in charge to tell them you'd like to help out. Or contact your state Agricultural Education Association to find out ways to help. Better yet, if your state doesn't have a program, you could start one through your professional association. Even simpler, just pick up the phone or send an e-mail to a first, second, or third year teacher you know. Sometimes just knowing someone out there cares is a big help.
Visit the Teacher Induction and Mentoring Community on NAAE's Communities of Practice to discuss mentoring with other agricultural educators.
List of Mentoring and New Teacher Induction Programs by State
See how different states support their early career teachers, and contact programs that interest you for more information.
Districts spend thousands of dollars to recruit, hire, and train new teachers. Then, after a year or two, they have to repeat the process because those same teachers have left their jobs. How much does this cost? In terms of money, it's been estimated that each teacher who is recruited, trained, and lost can cost districts up to $50,000. Disruptions in teaching and learning and negative effects on morale are among other costs that can be even more devastating, writes Hal Portner in American School Board Journal. One proven way to improve teacher retention as well as the quality of teaching and learning is through the provision and support of a comprehensive, coherent, and sustained induction and mentoring program.
California Center Gauges Novice Teacher With Tools, Mentors
(from Education Week — 5-16-07)
It's growing increasingly common for schools to use formative assessments, classroom measures designed to steer day-to-day instruction based on what students have learned. But a California organization has put its own twist on the trend: It has developed a similar set of tools focused on what beginning teachers themselves are learning.
The New Teacher Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is a national, nonprofit organization that works to provide systematic support to new teachers, and more recently principals, through the use of full-time mentors. Its formative-assessment system includes tools that range from templates for planning individual lessons, to scripts that capture teacher talk and students' reactions during a single class period, to midyear reviews of novice teachers' growth.
Together, the tools are meant to provide a framework for guided conversations between mentors and novices that zero in on student learning and help new teachers reflect on their own practice.
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