Question and answer about mentoring new teachers

Mentoring both new pastors and new teachers is becoming an increasingly important focus in WELS. The program for new pastors is called Pastor Partners; the one for new teachers is New Teacher Induction.

New Teacher Induction began as a pilot program in the Milwaukee area under the direction of the Commission on Lutheran Schools. It was approved for use synodwide by the 2011 synod convention and has slowly expanded to other districts. The goal is that by 2014 New Teacher Induction will include all 12 districts under the direction of a coordinator at Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn. Schools calling beginning teachers will invest $1,000 per year for two years toward the cost of the mentoring program, which includes mentor training, mentor observations and visits, and program coordination.

Right now 24 veteran teachers mentor 43 beginning teachers. Hear more about the program from Kathie Horn, interim coordinator of New Teacher Induction as well as a mentor, and Prof. John Meyer, MLC director of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education.

Q: What is New Teacher Induction?

A: Meyer: New Teacher Induction guides beginning WELS teachers through their first two years of teaching. A trained mentor is assigned to each teacher receiving his/her first call to a school. The trained mentor closely guides the development of the new teacher, helping him/her to connect practice to undergraduate preparation, reflect on practice according to teacher standards, and grow both spiritually and professionally.

A: Horn: WELS New Teacher Induction is a process of continuous professional development, based upon Christian teaching principles and standards, to enhance the teaching ministry.  In other words, a new teacher receives ongoing development by working with a trained instructional mentor to continue growing professionally and spiritually in ministry and in the craft of teaching.

Q: What is are the benefits for the beginning teacher?

A: Horn: New teachers who are mentored by a trained instructional mentor continue to grow professionally by becoming grounded in the model of being a lifelong learner.  When a new teacher meets with an instructional mentor, time is given to reflect on teaching, identify goals and areas of growth, develop a plan of action in achieving those goals, and intentionally document growth.

To see the light in the eyes of a new teacher when growth is identified, when concerns become plans of action, is indescribable. Students in these classrooms reap the benefits by having confident, prepared, and supported teachers.

Q: How does mentoring help the school?