Standard 7.4: Mentor/beginning teacher time
Sanctioned time is release time from other professional responsibilities that is designated for engaging in induction and mentoring activities and related to ongoing professional learning. Beginning teachers value and benefit from ongoing feedback about their classroom practice and from one-on-one support. Mentors are encouraged to spend at least 1.5 hours per week with each beginning teacher through a combination of face-to-face meetings, classroom support and co-teaching, classroom observations, and email and phone communication. In additional to regular daily/weekly meetings, mentors are encouraged to conduct three formal observations over two years, along with regular feedback on teaching performance.
When full-time teachers serve as mentors, they often meet with their beginning teachers before and after school and during lunch and planning periods. Programs can try to provide mentors and their beginning teachers with common planning periods. Mentors should receive release time to do classroom observations, and beginning teachers should receive release time to observe their mentors or other experienced teachers.
Mentor/beginning teacher interactions should focus on the beginning teacher’s practice and on student performance. This can include reflection by the beginning teacher about student work, other student data, and their teaching practices (e.g., content knowledge, assessment, instructional delivery, classroom management). These interactions should include reflective conversations related to mentor observations of beginning teachers as well as beginning teacher observations of experienced teachers.
It is important that mentors recognize their dual role: as instructional coach and as a provider of personal support and encouragement. They need to help push their beginning teachers’ practice forward while also being personally and emotionally supportive. Mentors should know when to instruct (provide information to the beginning teacher), collaborate (work with the beginning teacher to plan or solve a problem), or facilitate (guide the beginning teacher through the process of finding his/her own solution). Mentors should develop active listening (to ensure that they understand the beginning teacher’s issues) and their own communication skills.
Mentors help beginning teachers fit into the school culture by providing information on school procedures and cultural norms in the school or district. Mentors should strive for incremental and potentially iterative improvement with beginning teachers and not expect to see radical changes overnight. Sometimes, a beginning teacher may initially seem to ignore some advice only to follow it months later. Through all of this, mentors must maintain confidentiality to ensure that beginning teachers see them as a source for support, not evaluation.
Induction/mentoring programs should monitor and document mentor/beginning teacher interactions, including hours and topics covered. This can be done via paper or online.