Teacher Mentorship Program Provides Guidance To New Teachers

December 27, 2005

Charleston, W.Va. - New teachers entering the classroom now have someone they can turn to for support and guidance. The West Virginia Teacher Mentorship Program provides teachers who are new to the classroom a mentor to observe the new teacher’s classroom and provide evaluations. The West Virginia Board of Education was updated during its December meeting in Charleston on this program and was provided recommendations to improving the program overall.  

During its September meeting, the State Board requested that a committee be formed to study the effectiveness of the State Teacher Mentorship Program. More than 30 individuals representing classroom teachers, administrators, higher education, professional teacher organizations, the State Board of Education, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE), RESAs, Center for Professional Development, the National Commission for Teaching and America’s Future and the Benedum Foundation participated on the committee.  

According to Dr. Karen Huffman, Executive Director of the WVDE Office of Professional Preparation, the committee recommended amending State Code language so it is more flexible. With more flexibility, a pilot mentorship could be developed incorporating some the best practices identified in research and study groups.  

The group also recommended that the study group should reconvene to discuss mentor selection and training programs. Currently, the criteria for mentorship vary from county to county. Further, some counties do not require the mentor teachers to attend training sessions. The group also would like to meet again to review accountability standards assuring that State Code requirements are being met. It also wants to continue to collect data on mentorship best practices from across the nation and to address the same issues regarding the Principal Mentorship Program.  

The report included a collection of data from the Mentorship Study Group. The data revealed that 94 percent of the teachers who have mentors teach at the same school and that 62 percent of the teachers and their mentors teach the same subject.  

The report also highlighted responses from a focus group including administrators, mentor teachers and beginning teachers. Administrators told the workgroup that they would like to have broader flexibility and allow the principals to participate in a different capacity, such as facilitators. Beginning teachers would like to have training prior to the start of the school year and enough time throughout the week for mentor and beginning teachers to meet. Meanwhile, mentor teachers would like to have more training provided prior to the school year and provide guidance on observing new teachers as colleagues, nurturing professional relationships and supporting broader learning communities.  

The committee plans to meet again to form a pilot study with the Benedum Foundation. For more information about the State Teacher Mentorship Program, contact Dr. Karen Huffman, at (304) 558- 7826.  

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