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Professional Growth

Webinar Recap: Cultivating Exceptional Mentor Programs in K-12

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In one of our recent power-packed webinars, the Professional Development team from Brevard County Public Schools joined us to discuss the importance of mentorship in K-12 and its impact on teacher retention and effectiveness. 

This post gives you a quick summary of the session, a closer look on Brevard County mentor programs, and best practices for HR and C&I teams to take back to their school districts. 

Interested in a preview? Check out this snippet! 

Webinar Speakers:

  • Susan Walters, Solutions Director, Frontline Education  
  • Bridget Reed, Learning & Development, Brevard Public Schools 
  • Lisa Stanley, Professional Learning & Development, Brevard Public Schools 
  • Lynnette Thorstensen, PD Specialist, Brevard Public Schools 

Webinar Topics: 

  • Identifying and developing core mentor qualities 
  • The blueprint to becoming a mentor 
  • Strategies for a conducive mentorship dynamic 
  • Setting your mentor program apart

Brevard County: Enhancing Teacher Induction and Mentoring  

Brevard County Public Schools is one of the top 50 largest districts in the United States, with 8 schools, over 73,000 students, and 5,000 teachers. They’ve seen a dramatic increase in the hiring of teachers on temporary certificates—from 50 to 300 over four years. This created an urgent need for the C&I team to create and establish a robust support system for their educators without formal teaching credentials. 

Brevard County: A Closer Look 

  1. Mentoring for New Teachers on Temporary Certificates: 

Approximately 52% of Brevard’s new teachers are on temporary certificates. This high percentage underlines their strategic focus on mentoring as a critical support structure to help these educators transition successfully into their teaching roles. 

  1. Evolution and Data-Driven Adjustment of the Mentoring Program: 

The team at Brevard continuously refines their mentoring program based on ongoing data analysis. This approach allows the district to adjust its strategies to better meet the needs of new teachers and ensure that the program remains effective and responsive. 

  1. “College of Education” Approach: 

The team adopted what they refer to as a “College of Education” approach, where new teachers are provided with the necessary training from day one, akin to handing them the keys to their new profession. This method involves intense initial training and ongoing support to mimic the structured learning environment of a traditional college of education. 

  1. Characteristics of Effective Mentors: 

Not all excellent teachers are effective mentors. The Brevard team emphasized the importance of selecting mentors who are not only skilled teachers but also empathetic, supportive, and capable of acting as advocates and role models for new teachers. Effective mentors should also be well-versed in the systemic and cultural aspects of the school and district, to better guide new teachers through their early years. 

Strengthening Educational Support through Innovative Mentoring 

Throughout the duration of the webinar, Bridget, Lisa, and Lynnette take a deeper dive into mentoring, and discuss strategies and best practices. From training modules and mentoring meetings to the use of technology to manage and improve the mentoring process, this team covers it all. 

The main takeaways: 

  1. Adaptive Training Methods: 

Educational organizations should offer flexible training delivery methods, including nighttime and virtual sessions. This flexibility accommodates diverse schedules and learning preferences of new teachers, helping them integrate more effectively into their roles without compromising their existing commitments. 

  1. Monthly Mentoring Meetings: 

It’s beneficial for lead mentors to organize monthly mentoring meetings that cover a variety of educational topics. These sessions should be tailored to address current educational needs and challenges, providing continuous support to mentors. This structure ensures that mentors are equipped to guide new teachers through the dynamic landscape of modern education. 

  1. Comprehensive Communication: 

Implementing a monthly newsletter that reaches all stakeholders involved in the mentoring process, from principals to administrative staff, can significantly enhance the visibility and effectiveness of mentoring programs. Such communications not only inform but also engage and rally support across the organization, fostering a collaborative environment. 

  1. Feedback and Continuous Improvement: 

Regularly collecting and analyzing feedback from mentoring program participants is crucial. This process helps identify areas for improvement and ensures that the program adapts to meet the evolving needs of mentors and mentees. Effective feedback mechanisms can lead to timely and significant enhancements in the mentoring process. 

  1. Cultural and Personal Integration: 

Addressing the personal and cultural integration needs of new teachers, especially those relocating from different areas, is essential. Providing information and support regarding local amenities, housing, and community engagement can ease the transition for new teachers, enhancing their satisfaction and overall well-being, which contributes to better job performance and retention rates. 

Cultivating Exceptional Mentorship in K-12 Education 

The key takeaway: Effective mentor programs not only facilitate ongoing professional development through tailored training sessions and mentoring meetings, but they also address the personalized needs of new educators. This holistic strategy ensures that new teachers receive the necessary support to succeed professionally and adapt personally, significantly enhancing their ability to thrive in their new roles and environments. 

Watch the full on-demand webinar here. 

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