After the intensive week of orientation, new teachers are supported on a regular basis at the school level by the teacher specialist (at elementary and middle school levels) and academic deans at high school who conduct monthly meetings with them on topics such as conferencing with parents, giving feedback to students, and needs identified at the school level. During the school year one evening county-wide meeting is held led by the supervisor of the induction program; the main topic is the portfolio which all new teachers must compile and share with their principal at the end of the first semester of their third year of employment.
In Queen Anne’s County, novice teachers are assigned a mentor; that means that all teachers hired with 0-3 years of teaching experience receive mentor support of two hours per week. In addition, mentors arrange for and escort novice teachers on observations of exemplary teachers up to twice a year. All novice teachers receive at least two years of mentor support and many of them, at principal request, receive a third year as well. Those who for special reason need additional support also are served.
Mentors are all experienced Queen Anne’s County teachers, some retired and some who wish to work only part-time. All of them are part-time employees and work according to the number of hours they are available. Some work 4-6 hours a week; while others may work 12-14 hours, so they each serve a different number of novice teachers. But all novice teachers receive 2 hours of support weekly.
Retired teachers and part-time teachers who are interested in mentoring contact the Mentor Program Manager, a Supervisor of Instruction, who meets with the individual, reviews credentials, consults with the candidate’s principal and/or supervisor. Since Queen Anne’s is a small system, the Program Manager usually knows the mentor candidates and has the wherewithal to secure recommendations from those who have worked with the candidate. Mentors are selected based on the needs of the novice teacher; every effort is made to match content and/or level of mentor-mentee. For example, we try to place a mentor who is a math teacher with a novice math teacher whenever possible.
Ongoing professional development is provided to mentors monthly. Training for the school year begins in July; at that session, the goals for the year are set and topics such as working with the adult learner, and the role of the mentor are handled. Information from a needs assessment is used to structure the professional development for the year, but certain topics such as Supervisor/curriculum expectations, meeting with school-based staff developers – the teacher specialists – and working in a co-teaching environment are explored yearly. Other topics which are part of each year’s training include helping mentees with classroom management, county and school procedures, expectations regarding instruction and assessment. Mentors meet 3 hours monthly for professional development with the Program Manager. Frequently, a book is used as a basis for the year’s training.
Twice yearly, the Program Manager collects feedback from all stakeholders - - mentees, mentors, principals. The feedback is used to make modification or improvement to the program.
Additionally, new teachers engage in professional development through a new course which focuses on the implementation of the Framework for Teaching by Charlotte Danielson. The course is comprised of both face-to-face and online portions and integrates modules which enable the participant to practice the principles of effective planning, instruction, and assessment.