Support, Support:
An Informal Mentoring Program Model

by Ami Hicks

"Where have all the teachers gone." This is a fictitious quotation that school administrators, community members, and parents should not hear or ask. It could become a reality.

A teacher new to the profession enters the school work force struggling. The struggle concerns personal and professional competency. This includes subject matter mastery, discipline, and impression. An experienced teacher who relocates to a new district experiences the same struggles but to a different degree. Without the needed support, the teacher will leave the profession.

Whether a teacher is new to the profession or new to the district and/or position, there are similar concerns:

 

The question that administrators, community members, parents, and teachers should ask is "what can I do to support new members of the staff."

During the 1980's and early ë90s many articles written on new teacher induction established mentoring programs around the country. Some programs were formal and others informal. Whatever their structure, there was interest in supporting new teachers. The following is an example of informal mentoring.

Streamwood High School, a large suburban high school in Streamwood, Illinois has an informal program called A Buddy Teacher Program. Roger Smith, the principal, provides each division chairperson with a list of guidelines and asks that a member of the staff be selected to provide assistance with each new teacher. Each school setting would have its own unique list.

Below is a sample of what is covered with the new staff at Streamwood High School.

This informal program provides structure and support. Whether there is a formal program or an informal "Buddy System" support is critical. Mentoring is not a passing fad in education but a necessary component for teacher retention and teacher growth.

Teachers are a crucial investment in the future of "quality education." It is important to spend time and resources on supporting their efforts through modeling, collaboration, and commitment to excellence by initiating, developing, and nurturing a mentoring program.