Research suggests young people develop career choices as early as fourth grade. Waiting until a prospective teacher is college age may be too late because they have had years to cultivate a mindset of career ambitions that may not include teaching.
Kellery Divilbiss wasn’t sure what to expect of her student-teaching experience. All she knew before starting her first day was that she was “definitely nervous.”
Fortunately for her, Divilbiss was placed in Kelsey Harris’s classroom at Salem’s Cesar Chavez Elementary School. Harris put her at ease right away, getting Divilbiss to help set up the second-grade room before the student even arrived to start the school year. “It’s all about having that trust,” Harris says.
Sue Dickman rarely used to volunteer to host teacher candidates (also known as student teachers) assigned to her classroom. A veteran teacher who has taught sixth grade for 20 years at Agnes Stewart Middle School in Springfield, she felt the setup shortchanged the teacher candidate as well as her own students.
Research shows that beginning teachers who have a mentor are more likely to believe their instructional practices have improved and they are more satisfied with their jobs, leading to higher teacher retention rates. If we wish to recruit, retain, and raise high-quality, effective beginning teachers, mentor programs are vital to the educational system.
“When we identify a problem of practice, when we take the time to analyze why there is a problem in the first place, when we engage in a process where everyone feels like their voice has been heard, where everyone is engaged, this is where true change can take place.” — Design Team Member