Saturday, June 11, 2016

Importance of Mentoring

When reading over my evaluation last year one thing stuck out: giving new teacher support. Wow, that hadn't even occurred to me. I guess I assumed they came to my school with all the knowledge. So I thought about it and decided to make that my principal goal for the year. But there was one problem: I didn't know anything about setting up a mentoring program. Our county didn't haven't one so it was going to come from the ground up. I love Twitter and Google. Whatever you need can be found in one or both of those. So after quite a bit of research I put together a Mentoring program for my school.

The first thing I did was decide who needed mentoring. There are several thoughts: first year teachers, first year in the district, and first year in the school. I also considered teachers who were first year the year before (when I didn't provide the right amount of support). Since this was the first time to have a mentoring program I went with teachers in their first three years and those new to my school. 

The second thing I did was decide who would be the mentors. My school is blessed. We are full of amazing teachers so the decision was tough. And remember, I wasn't giving any monetary bonus for being a mentor. The teachers I picked were National Board Certified Teachers and had been teaching in that area for at least 5 years. They also has the test scores to back them up. 

Then came developing what to do next. I found several checklists where teachers could rate themselves on what they needed help on. After looking at several, I developed one appropriate for my school. I asked all my mentees to fill one out. I kept a copy and gave a copy to the mentors. This gave them a starting place. 

Next came giving them a time to meet on a consistent basis. This was not hard for me. We already have PLC's every Wednesday at 7:30. So I asked them to meet on the off weeks. Since I assigned subject area mentors they would be going to the same subject PLC then they would meet when the other subjects met. I didn't have to rearranged anything except duty. No mentor or mentee could have duty on Wednesday. (I forgot this once and asked them why they weren't on duty- oops) 

Then they were off. They met consistently between 2 and 3 times a month. I gave them a mentor log and asked them to keep up when they met and what they discussed. After the first month I let their needs control the discussion. If I saw something going on I would talk with the mentor and let them help with it. For example, one of my teachers was struggling with lesson plans. I asked the mentor to help them understand how to write them, use data, and show me when they were in groups or individual learning. Another example was when we had our Awards Night. The mentor made sure the mentee was dressed appropriately. I had not even thought about making sure they knew we dressed up for that. 

This worked well and I hope it helped those teachers not only in teaching but also in the day to day stuff that goes on in a school. 

This year I have made a few changes. I have come up with a mentoring handbook. This handbook has a month by month checklist for the mentor to discuss with the mentee. I hope this will help them remember what to discuss and tell the mentee about. I plan to continue first year teachers and first year to my school. Those experienced teachers may have what it takes to be a great teacher, but I want them to know how to post grades and what is expected from them in the lunchroom. Sometimes as admin we forgot to talk to those teachers about the day to day stuff. 

Mentoring is such an important part of a successful school year, but seems to be a part that is often forgot about. Mentoring not only helps our new teachers but lets our experienced teachers understand that we value them and their abilities. 


  1. Hi Monica, Thank you for sharing this. I am planning to develop mentor programme. Would you be able to share the resources you have developed? If so my email is

  2. Hi Monica, Thank you for sharing this. I am planning to develop mentor programme. Would you be able to share the resources you have developed? If so my email is

  3. Monica, I applaud you stepping up and taking this initiative with your new teachers. My school. Morristown West High in Morristown, TN, started a formal mentoring program eight years ago. Our system sent teachers from every school to several days of training and challenged us to follow through by establishing our own program. I believe our school is the only one in the system who has continued to grow and modify the program since its inception. I'd be happy to share our latest resources. We are committed to this because we know it has enhanced professional relationships whole also allowing teachers (both mentors AND mentees) to collaborate, which has resulted in greater success for teachers AND students.