Over the last ten years, a mentor program to support novice teachers in Queen Anne’s County has been developed in Queen Anne’s County. The county has structured a mentor program whereby part-time teachers are hired on an hourly basis to support beginning teachers. These are experienced teachers who meet the criteria established by the state and county, have a firm commitment to the profession of teaching, and who have a strong desire to assist teaches new to the profession. Mentors receive training in areas such as qualities of a mentor, characteristics of the adult learner, and peer coaching.
A key component of the program is the weekly interaction of mentor and mentees so that the novice teacher has timely support from an experienced teacher who has demonstrated proficiency in content knowledge and instructional technique, and who knows the culture of the individual school, the goals of the system, and of the state. The goal of the program is to enhance the skills and knowledge of the novice teacher so that student achievement is increased and the novice teacher experiences the job satisfaction necessary to inspire him/her to continue as a successful teacher in Queen Anne’s County.
The mentor program is an integral component of the beginning teacher support program in Queen Anne’s County. During the week-long orientation for beginning teachers, mentors are involved in both central and school-based meetings with mentees. During the course of the year, mentors participate with mentees in regularly scheduled school-based professional development provided by teacher specialists and academic deans as well as well as periodic staff development sessions planned centrally and delivered by the office of Curriculum and Instruction. Ongoing professional development is provided to mentors to assist them in their critical role. Mentors work primarily with novice teachers; that is, they are assigned to those new teachers who have two or fewer years of experience. Using the foregoing guidelines, together principals and the mentor coordinator assign mentors to mentees.
Mentors support novice teachers in the following areas: effective teaching methods, classroom management, implementing state goals (MSC, CLG, Content Standards), methods of assessing/monitoring student progress, communicating with parents, school policies and procedures. Mentors are generalists for the most part and as such provide guidance about the total program; for information about specific content, the novice teacher is referred to appropriate personnel. Mentors help novice teachers with procurement of resources and with understanding “how we do things around here.” Accountability is ensured through survey and feedback forms from participants as well as logbooks kept by mentors and portfolios developed by new teachers.
In 2013-14, there are twelve part-time mentors serving fifty novice teachers. They help the novice teachers by relating - - establishing a relationship of mutual trust that nurtures the new teacher’s growth, by assisting - - gathering and diagnosing data about the mentees’ styles of teaching and learning to provide counsel and build confidence, by coaching - - to fine-tune mentees’ professional skills, and by guiding - - assisting mentees in becoming independent by stimulating their creative and critical thinking through reflection. (Mentoring New Teachers by Hal Portner)