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WE Expect Excellence: New Teacher Mentor Program

One adult. Twenty-plus students. Being a teacher is a lot of responsibility. Being a brand new teacher is even more difficult. It's easy to get overwhelmed with learning targets, test and classroom management. "It's hard to hang on without some guidance and support from elsewhere," says teacher mentor Gina Velasco.

This is precisely why the new teacher mentor program exists at the Beaverton School District. The optional, two-year program, partially funded by a grant from the Oregon Department of Education, supports first and second-year

This year, there are 10 mentors serving about 150 teachers in the District. "We are divided up based on specialty or grade level," says grant coordinator and mentor Carissa Marrs. Mentors go through several trainings from the New Teacher Center. "We're able to identify areas of concern or struggle and determine how best to support that teacher in those areas," says Marrs.

This is Marrs' second year as a mentor. She has about 15 1st or 2nd-year teachers she is working with this year. Mentors meet w2nd-yearvidual teachers during prep time, observe during teaching and collect data, and then meet afterward to go over data. "It's really to help them go through the refection process, to see things from a different perspective. It's about helping them figure out how to grow and make changes," says Marrs.

Mentors say the first year in the program is really about building trust and helping with classroom management. "Teachers come in with different needs and different levels of support are necessary to help them thrive," says Marrs.

First grade teacher Katie Gettling says while her first year working with Marrs did focus on classroom management, this year, the pair is working on instructional strategies. She appreciates that Marrs' time is dedicated exclusively to helping new teachers succeed. "She's in here at least once a week and her sole job is to help her mentees."

Adds mentor Gina Velasco, "Everyone in your building is so busy. It helps to have someone to regularly talk to and problem-solve with, someone who is specifically there for you."