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Mentoring Teachers Programs – Improved Professional Competence and Educational Reform

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Many schools in the US have formalized the process of mentoring novice teachers as their way of inducting the new teacher into the teaching profession. They run Mentoring Teachers Programs, which enable a newbie to adjust to the new teaching career through the assistance of a veteran teacher. In these programs, the veteran teacher, the mentor, coaches the new teacher on several areas in teaching such as how to prepare lesson plans and execute them, how to handle students of different ages and characteristics, how to teach more effectively in different kinds of settings, how to resolve classroom conflicts and the like.

Benefits to the New Teacher

The program leads not only to improved teaching skills but also to increased job satisfaction on the part of the new teacher.  According to Evenson in his book on mentoring teachers, the new teacher benefits in three ways. First, the program allows the new teacher to easily adapt with the school environment. Aside from helping the new teacher get acquainted with the school’s staff and facilities, the mentor also teaches him how to observe and cope with the school’s rules and regulations.

Second, the program allows the teacher to establish teaching competence. This is achieved as the mentor provides the new teacher with opportunities to observe, assess, and practice his and other teachers’ teaching. The process encourages feedback from and constant communication with the mentor.

Lastly, the program introduces the teacher to teaching as a continuously developing and a life-long profession. If the new teacher feels that he gets as much support as he can from colleagues and the school administration, he will likely stay in this profession and would gladly make himself available as well for future teachers who would need his assistance.

Other Benefits of the Program

The benefits of mentoring programs are far reaching. It is not only the new teachers that benefit from the program but all the participants in the program including the mentor, the student and the school as a whole as well. Thus, mentoring programs are seen not just as a form of assistance to the new teacher but as a vehicle for the improvement of the school’s whole educational system.

For the mentor, the program serves as another opportunity to share his wealth of experiences, knowledge and skills. Much of these skills and knowledge are not found in books or reference materials. They are accumulated through time through extensive training and professional practice. Without the mentoring programs, these experiences, knowledge and skills gained and acquired through time may gradually fade away.

In a way, the mentor also improves himself as a teacher in the process of mentoring. He does this as he reexamines his professional experiences inside and outside the classroom and as he provides tips and guidelines to the new teacher.

Moreover, the mentoring program provides him with an added source of income as mentors are usually compensated for the extra services they render.

Students are directly and indirectly benefited with this kind of program as their new teachers gain more teaching skills and knowledge, which are imparted to them. Ultimately, the students learn more things and enjoy their classes more when the teacher is prepared and well versed with the topics he or she is discussing.   

A research conducted by Southwest Educational Development Laboratory to study the mentoring programs in Texas reveals that many districts see mentoring teachers programs also as a vital retention strategy.  The study recognizes that the attrition of new teachers is among the cause of shortages of teachers in some schools.

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