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ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Mentors give new teachers a sense of belonging

By Andrea Thomas-Reynolds
August 2022
Being new in a job can be one of the loneliest times in a new teacher’s life. Research shows that feelings of isolation and a lack of ​​collaborative relationships can push teachers to leave the profession altogether (Wheary et al., 2012; Brill & McCartney, 2008). This fact is accentuated by the realities of today’s educational landscape. The COVID-19 pandemic, remote learning, learning acceleration, parental activism, burnout, polarization around curriculum, staffing shortages, and exodus from the teaching profession are only a few examples of weight bearing down on an educator’s shoulders. In fact, a recent National Education Association study found that over half of teachers plan to leave education sooner than they had originally planned (Jotkoff, 2022). While districts usually provide avenues of support, including coaching,

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What new teachers are saying about the Jackson Public Schools mentorship program

“Having a mentor has been positive for me because I have someone who is there to assist me in every way. My mentor has provided necessary supplies for me when seeing that I was in need of basic items. She has given me advice on different methods to use when teaching certain skills and has also researched information to help students in centers.”

“Having a mentor has been beyond a positive experience for me because this is my first year teaching in a classroom setting. Therefore, there are so many things that I have had to adjust to, and having [a mentor] for support and advice has enabled me to continuously think outside the box. I will continue to grow knowing that I have [my mentor’s] support.”

References

Jotkoff, E. (2022). NEA survey: Massive staff shortages in schools leading to educator burnout; alarming number of educators indicating they plan to leave profession. National Education Association. www.nea.org/about-nea/media-center/press-releases/nea-survey-massive-staff-shortages-schools-leading-educator

Prenger, R., Poortman, C.L., & Handelzalts, A. (2017). Factors influencing teachers’ professional development in networked professional learning communities. Teaching and Teacher Education, 68, 77-90. DOI: 10.1016/j.tate.2017.08.014.

Wheary, J.W., Groome, M., & Rankin, J. (2012). Support. Collaborate. Retain: Strategies For improving the STEM teaching crisis. Dēmos; The New York Academy of Sciences. www.demos.org/research/support-collaborate-retain-strategies-improving-stem-teaching-crisis.


Andrea Thomas-Reynolds (thomasreynolds@insighteducationgroup.com) is senior vice president of Insight Education Group.


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