Four Tips for Mentoring New Teachers

One of the positions that many teachers find themselves in is mentoring a new teacher.  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.  

Here are 4 things I have found that have helped save all of our sanity!

1.  Have formal and informal meetings!

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...?"

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 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. 

The real-life, nitty-gritty, day to day stuff.

3.  Be a social bridge.

Teaching is a hard job that often leaves people feeling overworked and alone.  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!

4.  Take the initiative.

New teachers are already overwhelmed and overworked. Sometimes, new teachers are so overwhelmed, they don't realize they need help. Take responsibility 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 that I am available to help when needed.

These are my tips for mentoring a new teacher!  What tips do you have?

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