According to Elizabeth Heubeck in an article in Education Week titled, Mentors Matter for New Teachers. Advice on What Works and Doesn’t, having a mentor for first year teachers is essential for keeping them in the profession. Not only is having a mentor important, it is the relationship between the mentee and the mentor that is really important. Data has shown that more than 40% of new teachers leave the profession within 5 years. With a shortage of teachers as it is, this loss is staggering for the profession. It has been documented that over 90% of first year teachers that had mentors returned for a second year of teaching. The importance of having a mentor is proven, but the relationship and guidance given by the mentor plays a large role in the new teacher’s development.
One of the items in the article for a successful mentorship is to keep the mentors and mentees in close contact. New teachers need their mentors to observe and train them in all aspects of teaching and how to survive the rigors of the education process. Constant support is critical for the development of a new teacher.
Another idea for a successful mentorship program is to have a full time mentor that is no longer in the classroom. That way they can focus on providing that support needed for new teachers. This full time mentor can build a trusting relationship with their mentees including offering feedback and assistance in teaching to model strategies. Being a full time mentor also allows the mentor to be accessible to their mentees. When a teacher is a mentor, they still have their own classroom responsibilities that will come first to them. They cannot be as supportive to their mentees.
The final advice given in the article is to have the mentees choose their mentor. This can be based on geography, division and subject matter. New teachers need to feel comfortable with their mentors and need to be able to confide in them for the process to be successful.
Mentorship is a very important step in retaining new teachers in the profession. Having someone to talk to and learn from, who have already been in their situations, leads to success for new teachers. Having the right mentor for a new teacher can make a big difference in their career.