Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the world is undergoing a tremendous change.
Most schools and universities have been shut; only the necessary activities are running. Literally, it took months to accept this “new normal” as no one has imagined a change in such a novel way. Every institute had to sit back and review their strategies to make them adaptable in the current situation. Fortunately, most of them, have dealt with it satisfactorily but it was a significant challenge to adapt to this work from the home strategy. None has imagined teaching in such a way where there was no interaction but screens. Becoming a virtual teacher is even more challenging for new teachers. They’re often excited, apprehensive, uncertain, prepared and unprepared too, at times. In traditional-setting they can seek help from seniors if they’ve any question about their role, teaching process to follow to help students learn better, accessing information etc; but in online teaching they don’t get the required help on their own. In such circumstances, school administration have to assign a teacher, who is, knowledgeable about the content required to teach, have participated in a course or workshop about teaching online, have strong technology skills and an interest in using new technology to teach and learn. All these qualities in a senior teacher would clearly; bring much strength to a newly appointed teacher.
If you’re an experienced online teacher and have got the job of mentoring a new teacher then this post is for you.
What Support Do New Teachers Need?
Novice teachers are expected to perform like a seasoned veteran on the very first day of school. The hours spent in student teaching preparation programs are rarely sufficient to teach them all they need to know when they start teaching. Novices need to:
- Understand and implement the curriculum
- Meet state standards
- Manage and organize classrooms
- Develop and follow a student discipline plan with rewards and consequences
- Apply various teaching strategies to accommodate various student learning styles
- Evaluate student progress and providing frequent feedback
- Conduct parent conferences and communicate with them on a regular basis
- Plan and prepare lessons meeting short-term and long-term goals and objectives
- Participate in extracurricular activities and serve on school committees
Why Should Teachers Mentor Newly Appointed Teachers?
New teachers require training to:
- Improve the retention of new teachers
- Improve student achievement
- Increase the effectiveness of new teachers
- Reduce district recruiting costs
- Increase collaboration and teamwork among the faculty
- Expand teacher leadership opportunities
How to Mentor New Teachers During Distance Learning?
- Communicate with them
Whether you are training in-person in a school set up or online to your novice teachers, it is essential to have a regular communication with them. New teachers often have low self-esteem, which to some extent, affects their self-efficacy to perform better. As a mentor, you can schedule weekly online and real-time meetings with your mentees using live video/audio capabilities like Zoom or Skype that allows the pair to see and hear each other, maintaining continuity of typical face-to-face interactions and help re-create their school-based planning and reflecting conversations by using active video to provide a deeper, more relatable conversation between both educators. Not only this, you can better interpret nuances in voice and posture when both participants are engaged in visible, live discussions answer their queries, refer to resource material, and take feedback on teaching practices.
- Have planned interactions
Planned interactions are great at providing opportunities to our mentors to offer timely support as well as meaningful, open-ended, reflective questions to their mentees. By allowing mentees to move beyond crisis support, the meetings give opportunities to explore future possibilities and synthesize new understandings. Thanks to technology and accessible communication, you can talk to your colleagues and teachers at any time of day. In a school set up, there are weekly coordination meetings for every subject. You can do the same in the present scenario, but on a digital platform. Do not leave your session to one-time interaction only, have multiple. Plan them every week and be consistent. Timing may differ based on your location and time zone, but always try to keep up with the weekly sessions. These interactions allow you to provide timely support, give reflective feedback, and meaningful advices.
Even if you do not have in-person interactions with your mentees, you can still teach and guide them. You can plan virtual lessons to utilize the opportunity to model lessons for new teachers, teach them skills, etc. ,Additionally, you can organize a question and answers session online where you can ask about problems faced by them during the lesson, or what were the outcomes of their planned strategies and observe their learning and way of teaching.
- Speed up your mentees
The day to day teaching and learning methodologies are different now; you cannot fully utilize those 45 minutes of a lesson on a secluded building. With online education, there are multiple distractions around, both for students and teachers. Guide your teachers about digital resources that are applicable in their institution. Allow them to run the virtual classroom with you as students before reaching out to students. Provide them a clear picture of what assessments and assignments will look on digital platform. You can also refer them to some online communities that share useful tips and techniques for distance learning.
- Plan beforehand
Since you are shouldering the responsibility of training your teachers, you need to plan proactively and ahead. Do not burden yourself and use helping hands. You can reach out to your experienced teachers who have years of experience to guide new teachers. Schedule training sessions with librarians, math, reading, and science teachers to share tips with the young teachers to assist them in distance teaching.
- Be available
New teachers are often scared or confused to ask a question about what is bothering them. They often anticipate a senior’s guidance. If you give them the impression that you are not willing to help as a mentor, they will instead make more mistakes than working as per your requirements. Be open to help for them and ensure that you are always available to guide them whenever they need it. Offering help will build their self-esteem and improve their work performance.
- Empower them
Making novices dependent on you can limit their growth. So, instead of letting them depend on you all the time; empower them by having enough trust in their strategies. Let them be the masters of their domain and guide when required. Once a teacher feels that he or she has the confidence of their leaders, they are more likely to perform enthusiastically and will adopt new techniques as per the situation.
- Share important documents and video
When they were teaching in their school buildings, mentors often co-taught a lesson or visited their mentees’ classrooms. Co-teaching opportunities still exist with remote teaching, and they can be powerful.
- Take advantage of the mentor-mentee reciprocal relationship
Since you got an opportunity to establish a relationship with your mentee, take this opportunity as an advantage and encourage teachers to tap into each other’s strengths. For instance, if a new teacher integrates Flipgrid or Nearpod into lessons, the other one can learn firsthand about the tools, and then, incorporate them into their own remote lessons. When both educators focus on professional growth, both teachers’ students would reap the benefits.
Distance teaching and learning is a completely, new practice. Every teacher, whether old or new, will have difficulties, but with time they will overcome barriers by training fellow teachers and being there to guide them simultaneously and appreciating their efforts. Encouragement, support and collaboration are all that are majorly required.
Are you mentoring new teachers? If yes! Please feel free to share your experiences and tips with us.