With teachers' time so limited, are personal learning communities enough to mentor new teachers, or should new teachers be assigned or choose an individual mentor?With teachers' time so limited,...

With teachers' time so limited, are personal learning communities enough to mentor new teachers, or should new teachers be assigned or choose an individual mentor?

With teachers' time so limited, are personal learning communities enough to mentor new teachers, or should new teachers be assigned or choose an individual mentor?

Asked on by mizzwillie

10 Answers | Add Yours

brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

PLCs seem to be the latest fad in professional development activities, and many many others have come down the pike in the past few decades.  There is certainly nothing wrong with the idea, but of course, it is all in the implementation and organization as to whether it will be effective or not.  Often times our staff meetings will include nuts and bolts information at the beginning, and then the Principal will say, "OK, the rest of the time is for PLCs" with no framework or plan to use the time, and no notice for us to prepare something on our own. 

I think a mentoring atmosphere that is more organic in nature is more effective at helping teachers new to the profession.  If an administration can create conditions (time, funding, opportunity) for that kind of mentoring to take place, I think it would work better than formal PLCs.

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

As somebody who has worked in teacher training myself, I think that whilst learning communities can be helpful, nothing can beat a real (as opposed to a virtual) relationship of an older, experienced teacher who can walk hand in hand (if necessary) with a new teacher as they begin their career. I think it is so important for that mentor to be able to meet with the new teacher, have coffee with them, do observations, and face to face encourage and support them.

lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

A new teacher has so much unfamiliar territory to navigate that a plc may be a scary place to air concerns, failings, and questions.  The teacher may be concerned about the truth-worthiness of the groups members.  The teacher may be unaware of the history of the group, its individual members, and the past dynamics and issues of the group.  A one-on-one mentor is a safe haven for a new teacher -- especially when the program is designed that way.  New teachers, especially these days, have the constant concern over being renewed for the next year and may not want to admit weaknesses in a group of people they don't know if they can trust.  But new teachers won't become great veteranteachers without some trusted guidance along the way.

 

bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

As a first year teacher, I was flung into the classroom with no prior experience other than a year of substitute teaching. I had no mentor to turn to for advice, but I agree with the other posts that a volunteer mentor would be a helpful aid to any first year teacher. I had a great relationship with my first principal, and I usually went to him for guidance and questions, but many principals don't have the time (or inclination) to spend a great deal of time with individual teachers, particularly in larger schools.

literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I agree that an individual mentor makes a world of difference. I still communicate with my cooperative teacher today. We discuss school, family, and life in general. This is a relationship that really helps a new teacher out.

stolperia's profile pic

stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I would agree that an individual mentor is emphatically the more worthwhile relationship for a beginning teacher. In an ideal world, the mentor has volunteered for the "job" and is receiving some reimbursement in recognition of the additional time and responsibility that has been assumed. The theory behind PLCs is great but the learning opportunities coming from any that I was ever involved with wouldn't begin to match the benefits of a one-on-one mentorship.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think that if a teacher volunteers to be a mentor, it is a much more worthwhile experience.  Even though I had been teaching for awhile and mentored teachers, when I changed schools I was assigned a mentor (who volunteered) because there are many things particular to school procedure and culture that you just won't learn on your own.

wannam's profile pic

wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

I would say that new teachers can really benefit from an individual mentor. I agree with post 2 that new teachers benefit from specific assitance rather than generalized information which may or may not apply to their situation. I think all teachers can benefit from individual learning communities if they are organized and appropriate. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many times these individual learning communities are not very helpful. Personally, I found them to be a frequent waste of time. It seemed like the district was just throwing them together so they could check it off their list rather than really focusing on what would be helpful for the teachers. When dealing with new teachers, an experienced mentor can be a vital resource.
pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I'd really suggest you post this sort of thing in the Discussions section so you can bet more answers.

I would argue that this depends completely on the resources available in a district.  Ideally, it would be much better to have new teachers have individual mentors.  An individual mentor can spend a lot more time with the new teacher, going over lesson plans, sitting in on classroom time, and giving very specific feedback on what the new teacher is doing.

In education school, we get plenty of generalized advice that is not based on our specific situations.  New teachers do not need more of that after they are in-service.  They need more individualized mentoring that can truly give them advice that is tailored to their own specific strengths and weaknesses as observed by an experienced teacher.

susanhunt0000's profile pic

susanhunt0000 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

I'd really suggest you post this sort of thing in the Discussions section so you can bet more answers.

I would argue that this depends completely on the resources available in a district.  Ideally, it would be much better to have new teachers have individual mentors.  An individual mentor can spend a lot more time with the new teacher, going over lesson plans, sitting in on classroom time, and giving very specific feedback on what the new teacher is doing.

In education school, we get plenty of generalized advice that is not based on our specific situations.  New teachers do not need more of that after they are in-service.  They need more individualized mentoring that can truly give them advice that is tailored to their own specific strengths and weaknesses as observed by an experienced teacher.

I agree, the community must hire new mentors for teachers but it would be an extra expense to the government. 
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