Making New Teachers Better, Faster, Stronger

I was just down in Springfield at the Illinois New Teacher Collaborative annual conference to moderate a "town hall" session for them and I learned a lot of interesting things while I was there: There are 30 new state funded pilots that just got approved to provide

high-intensity induction mentoring, including a bunch in Chicago, to go along with the original slate.

Legislative support for funding has helped the program grown to $14

million a year in a very short time. Pretty much everyone there said that the "buddy" system (assigning a new teacher an informal buddy) doesn't work very well at helping retain new teachers (or put them in a position to ratchet up student learning). Convincing principals and districts to create and fund strong mentoring programs is a challenge given other distractions, but it seems like a lot of folks feel like it's the right way to go.

Have you had any experiences, good or bad, with mentoring programs in CPS? Given the turnover and effectiveness problems, do you think it's worth it to have full-time mentors working with new teachers? How can you avoid mentors (or anyone else not assigned a classroom) turning into extra administrators or classroom substitutes?

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