Standard 5.2: Matching of beginning teachers and mentors
The matching of mentors with beginning teachers should be done in a thoughtful, protocol-driven manner. Among the very first steps that must be considered are the criteria that will be used to make the mentor-beginning teacher pairing. When possible, matching mentors with beginning teachers should be based upon some combination of the following criteria:
- Common certification and/or endorsements and similar teaching assignment
- Past success of the mentor
- Specific pairing requests made by the beginning teacher, mentor leadership team, building administration, or mentors in the mentoring pool
- Mentor leadership/committee interviewing beginning teachers about specific needs they may have in a mentor match (such as personality, learning styles, pre-existing relationships, gender, location of mentor, one-one pairing or full-time cohort pairing, etc.)
- Physical proximity matching, in the following order:
- in-building, in grade level, and/or in-department
- out-of-building, in grade level, and/or in department
- in-building, out of grade level, and/or out-of-department
- out-of-building, out-of grade level, and/or out-of department
It is best to have an appeal process in place before matching beginning teachers to mentors that can be used in the event of an unsuccessful mentor/beginning teacher pairing.
Matching mentors to beginning teachers should ideally be done as early as possible. When hiring beginning teachers, some principals use the interviews as opportunities to get to know the beginning teacher and consider which mentor might be a good match. Pairing mentors and beginning teachers well before the school year begins allows them to meet over the summer and prepare for the fall semester. If a beginning teacher is hired after the school year begins, he/she should be provided with a mentor immediately in order to smooth the difficult transition.
Matching is often accomplished by the program coordinator or by site administrators. It is typically best for the person doing the matching to be personally acquainted with the mentors (and potentially with the new hires as well) to ensure that matching takes personal characteristics into account. Program leaders must be intentional and thoughtful in all aspects of mentor recruitment and mentor-beginning teacher matching.