Teacher mentoring is an important part of a teacher's first year. New teachers tend to struggle especially in the areas of classroom management and lesson planning. This article outlines the steps involves for giving a new teacher the support s/he needs during the first year of teaching.
Observe the new teacher's lessons. After observing a few lessons, the mentor should begin a weekly schedule for providing feedback whereby mentors share his/her observations, positive notes and areas s/he thinks should be improved. Mentors should take note of what worked particularly well and which areas need improvement without criticizing or judging the teachers. Mentors should be available to help new teachers on a frequent and regular basis.
Sit with the teacher in a room with minimal distractions. Sitting in the teacher's room is not a good idea! Together with the new teacher, try to sum up the lesson. What went well? What needed improvement? Give the new teacher the chance to come up with the answers by him/herself. [see a list of guiding questions below] Provide a few guiding questions if necessary. When were the students most engaged? When were they not focused?It is important for mentors to encourage teachers to stop and think after giving a lesson whether it was a good one or not, and why. This is not in order to indulge in self-congratulation or regrets, but in order to have a basis for their own learning from reflection on experience: this lesson was unsatisfactory, what could I have done to improve it? Or: this lesson was good, what was it exactly that made it?
Following the session, mentors should encourage the new teacher to brainstorm a list of concerns that might be difficult or challenging. By going over them together, the mentor can encourage the new teacher to explore answers to these questions. Encourage new teachers to explore using a dialogue journal where the mentor gives feedback based on his/her reflections. Teacher mentors can also give a checklist (similar to the list below) to serve as a guide for building his/her own self-awareness.
Modeling is an important part of teacher mentorship. Give the new teacher a week to implement the goals with regard to lesson planning and classroom management. As part of the process of learning effective instruction, mentors model different strategies of effective instruction and actives that engage students right away. Mentors shoudl also take the opportunity to prepare some activities or an entire lesson together. they can also work together on planning the rules and procedures of a classroom management plan and discuss effective tactics for how to engage students more effectively. As part of the modelling process, new teachers should be invited to observe lessons by other seasoned teachers. The focus is not to emulate but to but to observe quietly as part of the learning process.
The long journey of adapting to the pressures of the first year isn't over yet. Before new teachers decide to give up after their first year of teaching, mentors should encourage them to teach a second year. There is just so many new and unique experiences that happen in a new teacher's first year. Now that the mentor knows the teacher's capabilities, it is time to come up with a long term plan that will help new teachers develop other strategies for effective instruction. Mentors should help new teachers come up with plan additional ways of mentorship that still continue to support areas of lesson planning and classroom management so that new teachers can eventually find his/her own style of teaching that is comfortable.