Support your novice teachers in times of uncertainty
Audio version read by the author
There is no lesson plan or script for moving us forward in these uncertain times. As we learn how to connect with our students and families in new ways, we also need to pay attention to our most vulnerable colleagues.
As a mentor you are needed now more than ever. If you are not a formal mentor, you can still be of service to any beginning teacher in your school. This is the time to step up and offer your expertise, your positive comments, and your hope for a better future.
Some technology platforms can be intimidating because we are not familiar with them. Don’t let your learning curve stand in the way of communicating with your mentees. Choose a tool you are most comfortable with at this time. The point is to connect with a novice teacher and provide support. A simple phone call is easy and it allows the novice to hear your voice.
1. One – One Mentoring Conversations
Assess the novice’s basic needs right now
Health issues? Emotional support? Understanding of content to be delivered to the students? Ways to communicate with families? or some other area that the teacher needs at this time.
Respond with your best advice for providing some support right now.
SCHEDULE a Virtual Conversation
This will give the novice something to look forward to in the future.
Choose a meeting option together; phone call, Face-Time, or another option. Don’t forget to set a time limit for the conversation!
Use these questions as a guide to focus your conversation. Feel free to share the questions ahead of time so the novice can be thinking about them.
- Q:1 What’s working for you right now? LISTEN ~ Give the teacher time to respond and ask the question more than once if you need to do that. The goal is to help the teacher see something that is going well right now.
- Q:2 What are some challenges you are facing? LISTEN ~ Don’t try to solve the problems or tell the teacher what to do at this time. Just make a list of them for now.
- Q:3 Based on the challenges you just shared, which one would you like to focus on today? How do you think you might resolve this issue? LISTEN ~ perhaps the teacher resolves it! If further discussion is needed continue to brainstorm ideas.
Decide when you will talk again and how you would like to stay in touch with each other.
2. Group Mentoring Just for Novice Teachers
Reach out to your Lead Mentors and Administrators to see how a “Just for Novice Teachers” event could be organized. Novice teachers like to be connected. It makes them feel better to know that others have the same feelings and that they can support each other as a cohort. Take the lead and bring your mentor colleagues on board as speakers who can share ideas for teaching differently. Use this moment in time to network your novices and mentors in a virtual community of learners.
We are all in this together. This is an opportunity for us to think creatively while we support and retain our next generation of teachers.
Reach out from your heart. Your novice teachers will be so glad you did.
More ideas for virtual mentoring conversations can be modified from the newly published On Your Feet Guide to Mentoring Conversations available from Corwin Press.