On Tuesday I will attend a breakfast for the new teachers and staff joining our school this year. I will be assigned to mentor a new teacher. This will be my second year and I certainly hope I do a a better job of it than I did last year!! Don;t get me wrong, my mentee last year survived, despite having me as a mentor. You see it was my first year as a mentor, and despite having attended a 3 day PD required by our state, I was flying a little blind. I wanted to support this new teacher (who, by the way, had about 10 more years of teaching experience than I did --more on that later) and assure them that despite being overwhelm, it did get better. But there were days when I was so overwhelmed that I was useless to her.
First obstacle- We were on different grade levels but on the same hall. I have taught 4th grade for 4 years and this new (to our district) teacher was in 4th, while I was teaching 5th. Yes, I knew the curriculum, but so did her team mates so they were better suited to hep her in that area. I tried to handle the nuances of dealing with our student population (and their parents), navigating paperwork, what to do when technology fails, etc. I think I handled that pretty well. It was a challenge to try and do observations because we were on different schedules but we made it work.
Second obstacle- this teacher had been teaching longer than me...she could have mentored me! However, our district requires that all teachers new to our district must have a mentor.
We both survived the school year but I knew when my principal asked me to mentor a new teacher again this year, I needed to make some changes. I came across this infographic on Twitter.
Here is what I am going to do differently this year-
1. Sit down the first day we are back at school (just teachers--no students) and give her a chance to tell me what she needs help with (preparing a classroom for the first day of school is more than putting up bulletin boards and making name tags). I will talk to her about spending the supply money we get wisely and give her tips on how to make it last.
2. Help her prepare for Meet the Teacher (room, letters, forms, etc). Sit down the next morning to talk about how it went.
3. Schedule out a weekly meeting (15-30 minutes) to talk about how things are going and see what support she needs. In addition, of course she can come to me whenever she needs.
4. Make plans to visit her classroom this first day (if not the first week). Sit down afterwards and listen to her tell me how the day went, and give her suggestions for some areas that may need addressing.
5. Find ways to support her and encourage her (notes, small gifts, pat on the back).
6. Encourage her to get involved with committees, PTA, etc. as the year goes on. In the beginning, let her focus on herself and her class.
7.Sit in on her first parent-teacher conference/parent meeting. Maybe even do a mock-conference before hand.
I am genuinely hoping to make a difference with this teacher this year. I remember my mentor when I first began teaching and she was supportive, and encouraging and kept me sane that first year. And while I feel like I was helpful tt he teacher I mentored last year, think would prefer getting a brand new teacher this year. I think I can help her so much more.
If you are not following @Edudemic you need to! Lots of great info here and I stated making a list of ways I could support this new teacher! I am very excited about meeting her on Tuesday and I promise to post periodically about how things are going and share new ideas of what is working with us. Heck, I may even convince her to guest blog with me so you all can get if from the new teacher perspective. In the mean time, head over to Edudemic's website and check out this infographic and the accompanying article!!