In Partnership with the Southern Weekend

Be A Hero. Be A Teacher.: Helping Hawaii’s novice teachers succeed in the classroom

Mentor program believes success is key to teacher retention

Sponsored by University of Hawaii System and “Be A Hero. Be A Teacher.” Initiative

Beginning teachers entering the classroom for the first time are at the most vulnerable and critical point in their professional lives. In order to provide a support system, the Windward District Peer Mentoring Induction Program hopes to help beginning teachers build individual, effective teaching practices.

“Retention of teachers is critical to a quality education system,” says Elly Tepper, the Castle-Kahuku Induction Mentoring
and Kahua programs coordinator. “About 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession within the first five years.”

Most districts in Hawaii have site-based mentoring programs for beginning teachers. This means that beginning teachers are most often being mentored by a teacher at the same school. The mentor’s double identity as a classroom teacher and an academic coach can compromise the quality and time spent with a beginning teacher.

“That means that they can’t always find the time and the quality services to support beginning teachers,” Tepper explains. “Our program, that’s their full-time job. Nothing else, and so they’re dedicated to that.”

The Windward full-release mentor team model provides mentor collaboration that hones skills and practices to ensure equity of quality services to every beginning teacher in the district. Mentors collaboratively plan with their beginning teachers mentees and conduct focused observations to collect real-time data that teachers can analyze. This helps them gain insight into their own successes and challenges and plan to enhance their teaching effectiveness and develop their own unique teaching settings.

Research shows that beginning teachers who are supported by mentors and experience success in the first two years are far more likely to stay in the profession and continue to grow in effectiveness.

“We need generations of new teachers, grounded in this growth mindset, to provide the quality education that will produce the future leaders of our world,” Tepper says.

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