Developing Mentoring Program

Training and Development are terms which are sometimes used interchangeably. Traditionally, development was linked with managers with the future firmly in mind whereas training is related to improving the knowledge level and skill set of non-managerial employees with immediate effects in their present job. There is also the recognition that the human resource is valuable and must be developed if the organization is to hold on to staff and retain their commitment while at work. Through this paper, I want to highlight the importance of implementing development program such as Mentoring programs for Teacher and elementary to High School kids.

Mentoring is a structured and sustained relationship for supporting beginner / learner at the early stage of their career, through a career evolution or when facing a particular problem. It is a term used to describe relationship between a less experienced person called a “mentee” and a more experienced person known as a “Mentor”.

In an organization an individual utilizes his / her expertise and knowledge for the benefit of the organization and in turn is rewarded in monetary terms and also in terms of enhanced knowledge acquired through experience.

Typically, the cycle can be described as follows:

  • The individual gives a greater quality and quantity of work in his / her respective areas of expertise.
  • This leads to higher organizational productivity and profits
  • This in turn leads to greater employee rewards and recognition in appreciation of hard work put in.
  • This leads to higher employee motivation and a new vigor to achieve more for the organization.

Background, Analysis of the problem

With the increase in the number of elementary schools and High School, need for education and good teacher is on rise. In economics terms, the existing demand of highly educated teachers is more than the supply. It is a big challenge in rural districts as it is becoming more difficult to retain new teachers. Hence, organization or educational authorities need to develop new teachers by organizing mentoring or coaching programs.

In a report from National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future on the teacher shortage says, “The conventional wisdom is that we can’t find enough good teachers. The truth is that we can’t keep enough good teachers” (NCTAF, 2003). The report goes on to say that the actual problem is more related to teacher retention. NCTAF report says: According to a report about the nation’s teacher supply crisis, “No Dream Denied: A Pledge to America’s Children,”... Almost a third of all new teachers leave the classroom after three years, and close to 50 percent leave after five years.  (NCTAF, 2003)

The report finds that retirement isn’t the main reason behind such a high attrition rate; teachers who leave the classroom for reasons other than retirement is almost three to one. It is the high non-retirement attrition rates that are fueling the teacher shortage. Over the next 10 years, about 700,000 teachers are projected to retire, accounting for about 28 percent of hiring needs during that period.  (NCTAF, Unraveling the “Teacher Shortage” Problem: Teacher Retention is the key, 2002). More than a quarter of million teachers stop teaching every year; the cumulative effect is that high teacher turnover and attrition are undermining teaching quality.

Researches prove around 14% of the beginning teachers leave after the first year; 24% after two years; 33 % after three years; 40% after four years and 46% after five years.  (NCTAF, No Dream Denied: A Pledge to America's Children, 2003). As per the researches, the number of Teachers by control will reach 4,309 thousand and the number of new teacher hire will reach 476 thousand by 2017.  (NCES)

The nation’s largest school system, New York City School System hired approximately 6,300 new teachers in 2007. Whereas California projects that it will need one hundred thousand new teachers over the next decade.  (Jean Boreen, 2009)

In today’s world, the teachers need to share real life experiences and impart proper education to their students. It can be said in a way that Nation’s future lies in the hands of the teacher. Teachers need to make an impact. Teachers need to mentor, bring out the best from the student and mould their future. The teacher needs to act as a mentor to their students. This can only be done when we hone or develop or polish the skills of the teachers. And one way this can be done is by providing a mentoring program specifically designed for the teachers.

The concept / practice of mentorship exist from ancient times. The Ancient Greeks had the theory of pederasty where teachers could polish young men to greatness. The Hindu and Buddhist religions have the concept of “Guru” where a wise and religious man serves as a spiritual guide to someone who is misguided or needs to be acquainted with the Truth. Similarly, in Judaism and Christianity, the practice of discipleship outlines both history and current practice, as intensely spiritual people guide their respective set of followers.  

Mentoring Programs: Vision, Eligibility, Overview and Content

Mentoring is viewed as a dyadic, face-to-face, long-term relationship between a supervisory adult and a novice student that fosters the mentee’s professional, academic or personal development (Donaldson, 2000). Mentoring can involve a one-on-one relationship or a netwrok of multiple mentors  (Bird, 1992)

Mentoring Program vision is to develop mentoring and coaching skills of the teacher wherein they can improve the standard of education being imparted currently to the students. Each of them needs to become a mentor of their students and get associated with his / her class students or pick a group of student they want to mentor depending on the Institution’s rules and regulation. The mentoring program should be developed for all principals or management team of High School and Elementary Schools, High School teachers and Elementary School Teachers. The mentoring or coaching skill to be developed needs to be identified and can be outlined as Observing practices, asking questions, giving advices, giving feedback, instructing, listening, making suggestions, paraphrasing, reflecting, summarizing and communication skills. The mentoring program should be able to hone their basic skills of teaching, improve understandability of being flexible in attitude and in practices, realization that possessiveness of students and classroom policies are detrimental to mentoring relationship and motivate them to have a professional vision beyond their classroom.

The mentoring program should beginners in Teaching profession establish an appropriate and reachable professional goal. Goal Setting can act as a road map to professional development and bring early success in professional life. The teachers can determine goals by assessing their strength and weaknesses, analyzing their preparedness and classroom management, building confidence; evaluate active learning practices, and analyzing their teaching standards.

The program also needs to encourage peer coaching techniques. With respect to education, Peer coaching techniques can generally involve a relationship between two or more Teachers which allows them to share concerns and experiences and entrench new knowledge or skills in their practice. It should also motivate the teachers to “Think out of the box” and use technology to mentor their students.

The challenge Ahead for Program Participants

The challenges for program participants can be categorized as age and gender, experience levels, communication issues, cultural issues, preparedness and readiness to accept new skills or theories.

Age and Gender: For many teachers, it creates great concerns when a mentor who is older or younger in age or of a different gender is assigned. Many teachers assume that there will be a generation gap in knowledge and attitudes. Gender may also be an issue. Females might not like to have a Male gender while reverse can also be possible. Un-acceptance might create problems in the proceeding of the mentoring program.

Experience level: Because of the high turnover, the teachers might lack necessary classroom experience or the older experienced participants might be reluctant to share their experience.

Communication issues: Communication which is a very important factor in this industry may be found lacking in inexperienced or experienced participants. Both verbal as well as non-verbal skill needs to be important weapon in each of the teachers’ armor. Listening skills and ability to understand is also vital.

Cultural issue: Many new teachers might not be so “Open minded” which is highly required in educational industry. They might not accept other culture concepts or theories. There might be cultural differences between the trainer and the learners.

Preparedness and Readiness to accept new skills or theories: Many teachers might not accept whatever is preached during the mentoring program or they might not be prepared for such kind of training. Sometimes their arrogance might harm the main objective of conduction mentoring programs.

The Conclusion

It is important to reduce attrition rate, retain, showcase the importance of taking up teaching as a profession and encourage new teachers to keep on developing themselves.

Mentoring reduces attrition significantly to an extent of half or more. A pilot induction programs in California reduced teacher attrition rates by two-thirds. Over five years, the attrition rate among new teachers participating in the induction program was 9 percent, compared with an attrition rate of 37 percent among new teachers in California who did not participate in the state pilot or a local induction program. A number of school districts, including Cincinnati, Columbus, and Toledo, Ohio, and Rochester, New York, also have reduced the attrition rates of beginning teachers by more than two-thirds through effective new teacher induction programs.  (Abrahams, 2000)

Sandra Odell (1992) found that the attrition rate for teachers receiving one year of mentoring was only sixteen percent after four years on teaching, about half the national attrition rate. Eighty percent of the teachers who had received mentoring predicted they would still be teaching in ten years.

The program will not only improve the teaching skills but also increase job satisfaction. Besides helping new teachers get acquainted with the school staffs and facilities, the trainer also teaches them how to cope with the school’s rules and regulations. The program also allows teachers to establish teaching competence which is achieved through the mentor program where new teachers learn to observe, assess and practice other teacher’s style or way of teaching. The program introduces teaching as a developing and life-long profession. Teachers are motivated to continue in the profession and seek support from their colleagues and school administration.

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