WASHINGTON — On Capitol Hill today, four teachers shared their experiences as new and veteran educators and the benefits that come from having good teacher mentoring programs for successful student outcomes. Sponsored by the New Teacher Center and the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center, the briefing included two teachers featured in Teachers Are the Center of Education: Mentoring, Teaching and Improving Student Learning, a report released today by the two organizations and Phi Delta Kappa International (PDKI).
“There is an urgent need for high-quality mentoring programs in this country,” said Ellen Moir, founder & CEO of the New Teacher Center. “Many new teachers leave the profession early in their careers because they are not given the instructional support and guidance needed to succeed in the classroom. Research demonstrates that investments in good mentoring programs achieve critical outcomes, including reduced teacher turnover, accelerated new teacher effectiveness and greater student learning.”
According to the U.S. Department of Education, nearly 46 percent of teachers leave the profession after only five years of teaching. The support and professional development that teachers receive in the first two years on the job play a key role in accelerating their effectiveness and improving student learning. It is vital to support them with high-quality, comprehensive mentoring programs.
College Board President Gaston Caperton said, “It’s critically important that new teachers are provided with a support system they can rely on. Teachers have a profound impact on student achievement, therefore we need to not only embrace these new teachers, but also prepare those already -more- in the profession to help the next generation of great educators succeed.”
Teachers Are the Center of Education: Mentoring, Teaching and Improving Student Learning is the fourth in an ongoing series of reports on the role of teachers in the U.S. education system. A collaborative effort of the College Board, the New Teacher Center and PDKI, the report looks at nine teachers who have who have taken time from their classroom practice to contribute their knowledge and experience to their new colleagues.
The report serves to provide educators, administrators and policymakers with a unique view into the long-term benefits of mentoring programs. The report makes five recommendations:
- All first- and second-year teachers must be paired with a full-time mentor.
- Mentors must support teachers through a variety of proven practices including: frequent and regular meetings with new teachers that focus on teaching and learning; classroom observations; tailored pre- and in-service professional development on analysis of student data; support for peer networking; and teaching of leadership development skills.
- The federal government, or a coalition of states, must design common standards for mentoring that include outcomes, professional development and program components.
- Mentoring programs must provide time for mentor preparation and ongoing learning, new teacher peer networking, new teacher pre- and in-service professional development and the development of mentor and new teacher leadership skills.
- All mentoring programs must incorporate research into their work to measure the impact on teacher retention, teacher effectiveness and student achievement.
During the briefing, new teachers shared compelling stories about their initial experiences in the classroom, their hopes and fears, and the impact high-quality mentoring programs had on their professional experiences. Additionally, veteran teachers shared experiences in working with their less experienced colleagues and the guiding principles for being a good mentor. Kentucky’s Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday served as the moderator of the panel and discussion.
Mentoring team Amy Keys, teacher mentor, and María-Elena Valenzuela, mentee, from Pajaro Valley High School in Santa Cruz, Calif., explained that Maria-Elena’s veteran colleagues were reluctant to invest the time and energy into staff who might leave in a year or two.
Clarissa Williams, a mentor from the New Teacher Center in Chicago, said that her previous experience had not prepared her for the first day of work and the challenges presented by her students. “I went home the first day feeling like a complete failure and wondering if I could possibly return the next day.,” Williams said. “I did return the next day and the rest of that week. However, I also continued to feel overwhelmed and started to lack a sense of efficacy. I did not want to be another teacher that came with high hopes and then left the next year, or sooner, disillusioned by the system.”
Tammy Phuong, a National Board Certified Teacher and mentor from Austin Independent School District in Texas recalled the challenges she faced during her early years of teaching. Phuong said, “I was compelled to make a difference for other new teachers, and in 2008 I became a full-time teacher mentor.”
The New Teacher Center
New Teacher Center seeks to reduce the achievement gap in our nation’s schools by accelerating the effectiveness of new teachers through comprehensive mentoring and professional development programs. NTC partners with school districts, policymakers, and leaders in education to implement programs that build leadership capacity, enhance working conditions, improve teacher retention, and transform schools into vibrant learning communities. Founded in 1998, NTC headquarters are in Santa Cruz, California.
The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center
The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center was established to help transform education in America. Guided by the College Board’s principles of excellence and equity in education, the Center works to ensure that students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to succeed in college and beyond. Critical connections between policy, research and real-world practice are made to develop innovative solutions to the most pressing challenges in education today. Drawing from the experience of the College Board’s active membership consisting of education professionals from more than 5,900 institutions, priorities include: College Preparation & Access, College Affordability & Financial Aid, and College Admission & Completion. For more information, visit: advocacy.collegeboard.org.
The College Board, Communications, 212-713-8052, firstname.lastname@example.org