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Mentors make a difference for new teachers

By Kate Garlock

MAY 4, 2007--The importance of mentors for children is well publicized by public service announcements and celebrities on television, however, mentoring is also important for new teachers.

The Wisconsin New Teacher Project is designed to provide mentors for new teachers. Mary Manke, associate dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, recently wrote a column on the topic for Teaching Today, a trade newspaper distributed to about 50,000 K-12 teachers in Wisconsin.

In her monthly column, Manke discussed the new mentoring program in place in Wisconsin. In "Effective Mentoring for New Teachers," Manke pointed out that there is a nationwide trend for teachers to leave the field before their sixth year and that new teachers often need five yearas to reach a strong level of skills.

The loss is costly, Manke said. Taxpayers are investing to train teachers who then leave the workforce, while schools are paying to hire, orient and train teachers who leave before they are fully developed.

"Mentoring alone can not solve this problem, but some studies show that high quality mentoring can improve retention," Manke said.

The Wisconsin New Teacher Project brings guidance, training and support to school districts as they develop and implement new teacher induction programs. The Wisconsin New Teacher Project builds on the expertise of the New Teaching Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz, which has provided exceptional training and support programs that have dramatically improved retention rates while accelerating the competency of new teachers.

Through the Wisconsin New Teacher Project, mentors are trained through a series of programs that are offered statewide through educational organizations, including UWRF. UWRF has eight school districts that are participating in its workshops.

There are eight topical workshops for the training program: Foundations in Mentoring; Coaching and Observation Strategies for Working with Beginning Teachers; Designing and Presenting Professional Development for Beginning Teachers; Analyzing Student Work to Guide Instruction; Using Wisconsin's Professional Development Plan: A Guide for Mentors; Coaching in Complex Situations; Mentoring for Equity; and Creating and Facilitating Meetings that Promote Mentor Development.

Ongoing workshops are available to new teachers and mentors with an upcoming presentation, "Designing and Presenting Professional Development," on May 2 and 3, at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. For more information contact Manke at 715-425-3774 or



Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:08:17 Central Daylight Time


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