To the Editor:
We couldn’t agree more with the article “Student-Teacher Mentoring Targeted” (Dec. 5, 2012). The Stanley Teacher Preparation Program—which was one of the first alternative-licensing programs in Colorado—has been pairing novice “intern” teachers with mentor teachers since 1991.
Interns teach full time alongside carefully selected, skilled mentors for a full school year. Mentors gradually release responsibility to their interns, recognizing that the same process applies to adult learners as applies to children: modeling, guided and shared practice, and the eventual goal of independence. The long-term outcome for these teachers is impressive. Whereas the widely reported national norm suggests that 50 percent of new teachers have left the profession after five years, a recent survey conducted on our interns who graduated five years ago shows that approximately 80 percent are still pursuing careers in education.
Teachers who are prepared with a careful, gradual release of responsibility have efficacy and are more likely to persevere in the face of challenges in the early years of their careers. As a result of their high-quality training, teacher interns leave the Stanley Teacher Prep Program with a powerful mindset that generates stamina, optimism, and resilience. We believe the success that our graduates have experienced in the classroom is due in large part to the mentoring they receive through our residency and apprenticeship model.
Selecting highly qualified teachers to mentor novice teachers entering the profession allows us to create inquiry-based reflection on instruction, developing professional learning communities that stimulate and enrich both the interns and mentor teachers. Our children are direct and obvious benefactors of this reflective approach to teaching and learning.
Teacher preparation, when done right, is the most important aspect of our children’s education and learning.
Teacher Preparation Program
Stanley British Primary School
A version of this article appeared in the January 09, 2013 edition of Education Week as Interning Helps Improve Teacher-Retention Rates