Beginning Teacher Mentor Program in the West Des Moines, Iowa Community School District

By: Mary Brooks - Mentor Program Coordinator (October 1, 2001)

Index of submissions documenting the program development:
The Program as of 1999
The Program as of October, 2001


The Program as of 1999

ISSUES ADDRESSED:
Development of the WDMCSD Beginning Teacher Mentor Program
• Structure of the WDMCSD Beginning Teacher Mentor Program
• Beginning Teacher Mentor Program Site Coordinator Job Description
• How to Find Out More Information about the WDMCSD Program
• Request for Information

Development of the WDMCSD Beginning Teacher Mentor ProgramIn 1996, I became Site Coordinator for the West Des Moines Community School District Beginning Teacher Mentor Program - a position that grew out of a two-year pilot project which I wrote a grant for and implemented at Indian Hills Junior High. Funded as a teacher mentor through staff development in 1994-1996, I had release time to research mentoring programs and mentor first and second-year teachers in my building.Currently, I serve half time as the Site Coordinator; in the other half, I teach three junior high language arts classes. I have 25 years of experience as a teacher.

Structure of the WDMCSD Beginning Teacher Mentor ProgramCurrently, there are 44 first-year teachers in our district and 15 second-year teachers. A total of 57 mentors are involved actively in the program. In August, before school starts, first-year mentors receive a half-day of training and spend a half-day with their new teacher.During the school year, first-year mentors attend four New Teacher Support Group meetings for additional training. Second-year mentors meet as a large group once during the second semester. During their training, mentors discuss such topics as:
  • the role of a mentor
  • the needs, problems, and phases of beginning teachers
  • classroom visitation and feedback strategies; and
  • effective teaching strategies.
Mentors use a record-keeping/reflectionhandbook, The Mentor Manual, that I've created/compiled. It contains activities and ideas, training topics, and cognitive coaching strategies and techniques.

Beginning Teacher Mentor Site Coordinator Job DescriptionMy job description includes the following:
  • Provide leadership, expertise, and ongoing support to administrators, mentors, and beginning teachers
  • Develop and facilitate mentor training
  • Develop and assist Human Resources with beginning formal and ongoing teacher induction
  • Develop base of administrative understanding and support
  • Evaluate and revise beginning teacher mentor program
  • Analyze cost/benefits
  • Provide leadership in knowledge, methods, and materials
  • Provide support to mentors in assuming their roles and responsibilities
  • Provide and promote classroom visits among mentors and beginning teachers
  • Maintain confidentiality
  • Maintain professional growth through graduate and/or staff development courses, professional organizations, seminars, and/or professional literature
  • Attend and/or present at relevant professional conferences
  • Schedule time willingly with mentors, beginning teachers, and administrators
  • Get involved in solving specific problems with curriculum, instruction, persons
  • Monitor program components throughout the year
  • Solicit feedback from beginning teachers, mentors, and building administrators
  • Visit every first and second year teacher's classroom and provide feedback


Find Out More About the WDMCSD Beginning Teacher Mentor Program You may read more about my program in an article I wrote entitled, "Mentors Matter". It is published in A Better Beginning Supporting and Mentoring New Teachers, a 1999 ASCD book edited by Marge Scherer. The book is an outgrowth of the theme issue of Educational Leadership ("Supporting New Teachers", May 1999). My article is in Part III, "Making Mentoring Meaningful", which give readers a sampling of the multitude of mentoring programs being instituted in schools across the country.


A Request for Information From YouThe 1998 Iowa General Assembly made a change in the law regarding the probationary status of licensed employees. The new law extends from two to three years the length of the probationary period for new teachers. Therefore, during the 2000-2001 school year it is the WDMCSD's intention to continue to provide support to third year probationary teachers through the Beginning Teacher Mentor Program.The third year component needs your help! If you currently provide a support program for third year teachers, I would love to hear about it. What kinds of personal and professional growth-promoting processes would you recommend?Our goals are to:
  • Continue to induct competent and caring teachers toward professional expertise
  • Engage them in ongoing inquiry and experimentation, and
  • Mentor them to assume leadership within the learning community.
We would like the design of the third year project to use Staff Development training in any of all of the following:
  • Personal Effectiveness and Leadership
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Effective Teaching Strategies.
  • In addition to training in any or all of these, we are considering training third year probationary teachers in Peer Cognitive Coaching.
Our desire is that they will participate in Peer Cognitive Coaching triads as well as meet in a Study Group to enrich, enhance, and empower their teaching and learning.Five Mentor-Coaches might be selected to participate in the third year probationary teachers' training and to facilitate these groups. I welcome your input and reaction!Mary BrooksProgram CoordinatorBeginning Teacher Mentor Program in the West Des Moines, Iowa, Community School District (IA).February 2000.Email: brooksm@wdm.k12.ia.us

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The Program as of October, 2001

THE PROGRAM AS OF OCTOBER 2001Hi, Barry!It's time to update my web page on the MLRN site which describes the WDMCSD program! I need to make it current!By the way, the Iowa Legislature finally came through with funding for Beginning Teacher Mentoring and Induction Programs, so this year mentors of first-year teachers will be paid $1,000! (Each first-year teacher nets our district $1,300. One thousand goes to the mentor; the other $300 is for administrative costs.) We had to apply for the funding, and I haven't received official word yet that our application was accepted - but I've been told that we are funded! That stipend is long overdue!Thanks!Mary Brooks, Site Coordinator

ISSUES ADDRESSED:
  • Development of the WDMCSD Beginning Teacher Mentor Program
  • Structure of the WDMCSD Beginning Teacher Mentor Program
  • Beginning Teacher Mentor Program Site Coordinator Job Description
  • How to Find Out More Information about the WDMCSD Program
Development of the WDMCSD Beginning Teacher Mentor ProgramCurrently, I serve half time as the Site Coordinator; in the other half, I teach three junior high drama classes. I have 27 years of experience as a teacher.Structure of the WDMCSD Beginning Teacher Mentor ProgramCurrently, there are 18 first-year teachers in our district, 13 second-year teachers, and 36 third-year teachers.Program Components in Year 1 include the following:
  • Participate in August New Teacher Workshop day
  • Participate in quarterly New Teacher Support Group meetings
  • Participate in ongoing building level induction
  • Receive assistance and support from a mentor
  • Receive feedback from District Site Coordinator's classroom visitation
  • Participate in visitations of mentor's and other teachers' classrooms
Program Components in Year 2 include the following:
  • Receive ongoing assistance and support from a mentor
  • Receive feedback from District Site Coordinator's classroom visitation
  • Participate in visitations of mentor's and other teachers' classrooms
  • Continue to participate in on-going induction (i.e., Staff Development, building level activities)
Program Components in Year 3 include the following:
  • Receive support for professional growth through collaborative design and Site Coordinator/collegial
  • assistance
  • Select standard, individualized and other components of professional development which enrich,
  • enhance and empower teaching and learning
  • Continue to participate in ongoing induction which develops competent and caring teachers toward
  • professional expertise
  • Complete a minimum of five (5) staff development credits (effective with the new teachers hired for
  • the 2000-2001 school year)
A total of 27 mentors are involved actively in the program. (Over 100 veteran teachers have gone through mentor training and have served as mentors.)In August, before school starts, first-year mentors receive a half-day of training and spend a half-day with their new teacher. During the school year, first-year mentors attend four New Teacher Support Group meetings for additional training.Second-year mentors meet as a large group once during the second semester. During their training, mentors discuss such topics as:
  • the role of a mentor
  • the needs, problems, and phases of beginning teachers
  • classroom visitation and feedback strategies; and
  • effective teaching strategies.
Mentors use a record-keeping/reflection handbook, The Mentor Manual, that I've created/compiled. It contains activities and ideas, training topics, and cognitive coaching strategies and techniques.

Beginning Teacher Mentor Site Coordinator Job Description My job description includes the following:
  • Provide leadership, expertise, and ongoing support to administrators, mentors, and beginning teachers
  • Develop and facilitate mentor training
  • Develop and assist Human Resources with beginning formal and ongoing teacher induction
  • Develop base of administrative understanding and support
  • Evaluate and revise beginning teacher mentor program
  • Analyze cost/benefits
  • Provide leadership in knowledge, methods, and materials
  • Provide support to mentors in assuming their roles and responsibilities
  • Provide and promote classroom visits among mentors and beginning teachers
  • Maintain confidentiality
  • Maintain professional growth through graduate and/or staff development courses, professional organizations, seminars, and/or professional literature
  • Attend and/or present at relevant professional conferences
  • Schedule time willingly with mentors, beginning teachers, and administrators
  • Get involved in solving specific problems with curriculum, instruction, persons
  • Monitor program components throughout the year
  • Solicit feedback from beginning teachers, mentors, and building administrators
  • Visit all first and second year teachers' classrooms and provide feedback; assist all third year teachers through an Expanding Professional Development Plan
Find Out More About the WDMCSD Beginning Teacher Mentor ProgramYou may read more about my program in an article I wrote entitled, "Mentors Matter". It is published in "A Better Beginning Supporting and Mentoring New Teachers", a 1999 ASCD book edited by Marge Scherer. The book is an outgrowth of the theme issue of Educational Leadership ("Supporting New Teachers", May 1999). My article is in Part III, "Making Mentoring Meaningful", which give readers a sampling of the multitude of mentoring programs being instituted in schools across the country.

Mary BrooksProgram CoordinatorBeginning Teacher Mentor Program in the West Des Moines, Iowa, Community School District (IA).September 2001Email: brooksm@wdm.k12.ia.us

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