Student Well-Being

Mentor Like You Mean It

August 12, 2006 1 min read
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A new school year means a batch of brand-new teachers entering the classroom for the first time, fresh credentials in hand. However, statistics from a 2006 National Education Association study show that nearly half of those new teachers will leave the profession within five years. In an effort to decrease attrition rates, many schools employ mentoring programs that pair new teachers with more experienced colleagues. But not all mentoring programs are created equal. Drawing data from a pilot program conducted in New York City public schools, a report published last May by the New Teacher Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz, identified six distinct features of successful new-teacher induction programs. Based on its findings, here’s a checklist:

What Works What Doesn’t
Selecting mentors based on evidence of superior teaching skills, respect of peers, and knowledge of professional development Selecting mentors based on who is available or has the most seniority
School-sanctioned time for mentors and new teachers to meet—at least an hour each week Scheduling meetings whenever both parties are available; allowing mentor meetings to be pushed to the bottom of the priorities list
Specific guidance and instruction for improving the new teacher’s practice Nonspecific, mostly emotional support (“You’re doing great—keep up the good work!”)
Continuing training and professional development opportunities for mentors No specific training for mentors
Documentation and data-based evidence of new teacher progress Informal, off-the-cuff remarks about new teacher progress, without documentation
Multiyear mentoring—ideally at least two years First-year mentoring only, which can help new teachers survive, but not thrive

SOURCE: The New Teacher Center, University of California, Santa Cruz. For the complete report, visit:

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