Why mentoring matters
GISD mentors help first-year teachers navigate the critical first year
The first year of any new career is daunting. Imagine being a brand-new teacher and starting work in the middle of a pandemic.
That’s why Greenville ISD provides mentors and professional development for teachers who are beginning their first year with the district.
"Education is the only profession I can think of where a first-year novice and a thirty-year veteran have the same roles and responsibilities. That is why mentorship is so important," said GISD Mentor Coordinator Justin Anderton. “Our New Lions also form a family, and they are lifelines for one another.”
No one likes being the new kid, and the same thing goes for new teachers. It’s both exciting and daunting. Having an experienced teacher to turn to can make all the difference.
“Mentors matter because they get it. They have been there. They can look at situations from multiple perspectives and give valuable advice,” said New Horizons High School teacher Pauline O’Brien, who is mentoring four teachers.
O’Brien says being a mentor takes her back to her first year in the classroom.
“I was teaching third grade in an inner-city school. I was the third teacher they hired in the first semester,” she said. “Needless to say, I had a lot of work to do. I felt lost, but I gained my strength through the kids. They needed someone to believe in them, and I did.”
Teaching requires a vast skill set, said STEM @ Crockett teacher Connie Ruiz.
“With the added online requirements due to the pandemic, I am so glad GISD has the mentor program for its new teachers,” she said. “Although, I have years of experience, they are teaching me just as much. We are able to share what is happening in our rooms and work to find answers to all the regular questions, as well as the "pandemic" questions. It is a benefit to all involved. They have great futures in education. I am glad I can be a part of their beginning years.”
Mentoring is cited as one of the key factors in predicting teacher success and retention, which leads to student achievement, according to an article recently published on Waterford.org.
“Teacher turnover, often due to high rates of burnout, is one of the most pressing challenges facing the educational field. But mentoring programs can act as a buffer against burnout and improve teacher retention. In one study, 96% of teachers who had mentors stayed at their job and cited the emotional support their mentors provided as particularly helpful,” according to the article.
“Teaming up with our mentees to make them feel valued is crucial for building confidence in first year teachers,” O’Brien said. “My motto is, ‘We Got This!’ "