red Supported Site Western Michigan University: Induction & Mentoring

Successes

  • Developed an atmosphere of mentoring among pre-service teachers so they are prepared to be mentored once they begin teaching.
  • Provided support to graduates of our program who stayed close by. Provided some e-mentoring to graduates who found teaching jobs out of our immediate area.
  • Built a community of physics teachers composed of preservice teachers, novice teachers, and experienced local teachers of physics. This community served as a support system for our graduates and other novice teachers as well as out-of-field teachers of physics.

Challenges

  • Community-building is a long-term investment. Once established, the impact is far-reaching and long lasting.

Sustainability/ Institutional Buy-In

  • Each of the former TIR’s intends to maintain a mentoring relationship with the students and teachers they worked with during their year(s) on campus unless time, distance and new job assignments intervene.
  • Sustaining our mentoring efforts requires a permanent TIR, and the faculty, the chairman, and the associate deans who have reviewed our proposals have recognized this fact. The unfavorable economic situation in Michigan at the present time precludes such a position.
  • Changes in the science methods course will be sustained through instructor continuity, program assessment procedures, and accreditation requirements.

Lesson learned

  • Mentors must take the initiative to reach out to mentees and potential mentees. It’s not enough to say “feel free to ask me anything whenever you need it”, they generally won’t ask.
  • The use of email as a tool for e-mentoring is very useful and can be a source of immediate support for novice teachers no matter how far away they are. Sending out regular email updates or prompts to mentees helps spur discussion and encourages other questions from mentees.

Mentoring Activity Summary

  • Former TIRs mentor recent graduates by personal contact, email and phone contact. Some mentees are in the same school as former TIRs and they give these new teachers considerable aid.
  • TIRs and a Physics faculty conduct summer and 8 weekend workshops for 25 cross-over teachers.
  • Occasionally extensive mentoring was done with weekly classroom visits and extensive emails conversations.
  • The department offered a six-week evening course on “Teaching Physical Science using Inquiry” which was attended by mentees.

Induction Activity Summary

  • Mentees and other local teachers are invited to workshops and local physics meetings where they talk to their mentees and the mentees also get professional development.