Mentoring new teachers is one of the many hats that you may find yourself wearing as an experienced educator. The first time I had a mentee, there were 9 teachers on our Second Grade team, and 6 of the teachers were brand new! YIKES! I was the most experienced teacher on the team and I felt a LOT of responsibility.
Over the years, I have served as a mentor to several new teachers. Mentoring new teachers has become something that I enjoy doing. There is a deep satisfaction that comes from knowing you aren’t just helping your students, bu helping other students as you watch their teacher blossom.
Here are my tips for mentoring new teachers.
Mentoring New Teachers Tip #1: Meet formally and informally!
My districts Beginning Teacher program defines how often mentees and mentors should meet. First year teachers need to meet once a week. Second and third year teachers meet twice a month. I refer to these as our formal meetings. They are documented and we have to fill out a log about what we talked about.
I also try to touch base with my mentee once or twice a week for ‘informal‘ meetings. These are usually room drive-bys or quick conversations after a meeting. These are the “How did the new behavior contract with so and so go?” “Did you see the email about the staff meeting?”.
We also have informal ‘gatherings’ in classrooms about 3 times a week. In these gatherings, we blow off steam, laugh and share about our day. I find that this is the time the real questions get asked. The “What do I do about…?” and “OMG, I just stared because I didn’t know what….” And my favorite– “Do we really have to…?”
I little word of caution about these improptu gatherings- they can become big time sucks! Don’t be afraid to stop by a colleagues room, but don’t unpack your suitcase and stay all day.
Mentoring New Teachers Tip #2: Think Practically!
My school has lots of people in place to help with academic coaching. Admin and coaches do walk throughs and leave feedback on a weekly basis. Our new teachers also have a New Teacher Support person for content help.
I have found that my mentee often does not need me to give more support like that– but practical stuff like how to manage time. How to organize data. The best ways to combine materials. How to set up homework folders. What to do when a student has a fever.
Don’t forget to give support for the real-life, nitty-gritty stuff. The stuff that usually wasn’t in any of the coursework!
Mentoring New Teachers Tip #3: Be a social bridge!
Teaching is a hard job that often leaves people feeling overworked and alone. This is especially true if your mentee has come from out of town. You can really help your mentee make connections within the building to ease that solitary feeling. Introduce them to the people they need to know- janitorial staff, office staff, school counselors, cafeteria staff!
Mentoring New Teachers Tip #4: Take the Initiative!
As soon as I am back in the building, I start looking for my mentee to introduce myself. New teachers are already overwhelmed and overworked- don’t wait for them to find you! Sometimes, new teachers are so overwhelmed, they don’t realize they need help. Take the initiative for helping them instead of waiting for them to come to you!
You can also ease the loneliness by inviting them to lunch on work days or out for a drink if you are comfortable. I also make sure my mentee has my phone number and knows the best ways to find me.
Do you have any tips for mentoring new teachers? Drop them below!