Mentors and Mentoring

As I was working in my office at home today, I came across some mentoring books from my time at University at Buffalo, where I finished the Advanced Certificate in Teacher mentoring program. We read and discussed a wide range of articles and books on mentoring. We explored why teachers become mentors. More importantly, we looked at what an effective mentoring program should look like.In recent weeks, SUNY and SED have announced in NYS a teacher shortage will happen. We will have difficulty recruiting teachers into the field. But we need to remember one of the key features of teacher recruitment is retention.

The induction process starts with recruitment. Miller, in JRRE, found in NYS a number of teachers wish to remain as close to home as possible. This especially effects rural schools where recruitment is difficult. Lankford, Boyd, and others have researched on the quality of teacher candidates recruited into the field. They found that teachers who are high quality have a greater impact on student achievement thank those who are of poorer quality. Other research, including TNTP, have found many teachers only stay in the profession for 5 years. Five years. One extra year than a high school class takes to graduate. Five years. The length of time many students take to complete a Bachelors Degree. In those five years, districts invest significant resources in providing teachers professional development. They may provide a mentor to the teachers, for one year. I don’t know about you, but I still need mentors, almost 20+ years after I graduated from high school and went to work in my professional field.

Education needs mentors to work with new teachers. We need the retirees who still have something to give to help ease the burden off of the practicing professionals in the trenches themselves. In a Chronicle of Higher Ed article, emeritus professors are hoping to give back to their institutions. Maybe its time for education K-12 to name emeritus teachers and administrators in an effort to gather their energy, knowledge, experience, and resources for use in our resource poor districts in the rural and urban areas.

On a personal note, one of my first mentors, Mr. Larry Wrobelewski, the Associate Editor of the Polish American Journal, passed away last night from Cancer. Larry was a great friend, mentor, and for 24 years served as one of my constant sources of inspiration. Rest in Peace, Mr. W. We have the trail from here.

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