I’m a 12th year math teacher. I see first-hand how critical it is for America to recruit 100 thousand new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers. As astronaut Bernard Harris so clearly said, we need more “STEM” rock stars. But getting more STEM teachers into schools is only half the battle. How do we make sure they become effective teachers who are motivated to remain in the profession? I think the answer is pairing teachers with mentors and making sure they have opportunities to collaborate with and learn from their peers. I didn’t always think this way.
In fact, during my first two years teaching, I often questioned why I had to attend so many "rookie camp" meetings. At the time, meeting with other rookie teachers on a monthly basis and meeting with my mentor frequently seemed like such a drag.
But when moved districts and had no fellow STEM teachers to collaborate with, I realized how much I missed the mentoring. I found that I was calling upon the lesson planning. classroom management and specific content questions taught to me at my previous school. Thanks to an eight day induction program, classroom demonstrations, mentors, coaching follow ups, and monthly support seminars I had a safety net that allowed me survive that first year in my new district, my toughest teaching.
Participating in e-mentoring is powerful, not just for the new teachers, but for also for mentors like me.
When I heard about the New Teacher Center’s e-Mentoring for Student Success (eMSS), I knew I wanted to be a part of this to support and mold new math teachers. I was so excited when I was accepted as a mentor. I finally had an opportunity to collaborate with other math teachers, talk math with them, and become part of a math community.
Over the last 4 years I worked with nearly 50 new math teachers. I have shared my experiences while providing encouragement and instructional support. I’ve worked with my mentees on context and classroom specific challenges. One teacher was challenged by how to deliver content while still providing quality activities in a large classroom setting of over 36 students. We brainstormed ideas, discussed pros and cons of different instructional delivery methods and developed plans to help students learn content in small groups. Such dialogues allow for teachers to reflect on their practices and grow as teachers.
Participating in e-mentoring is powerful, not just for the new teachers, but for also for mentors like me. By the end each year, I always have new ideas I can use in the classroom.
As a full time teacher, working in an asynchronous online learning environment was a perfect fit for me. I can fulfill my commitment to supporting new teachers while having the flexibility to do this on my time. I am able to check in before school, after school, and during lunch or prep if need be. I can also read and contribute to posts at home once my kids have been put to bed.
My experience has convinced me new teacher mentoring provides both mentors and mentees with the chance to share wisdom from the classroom and learn together to constantly develop our craft. We must work to make sure new STEM recruits get this kind of mentoring support.