Mentoring Newsletter

A guide to working with mentees at your school site

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September 2021

Hello, BPS mentors.

Well, this year is off to a "different" start, wouldn't you agree? It might not only be the brand-new teachers who are feeling challenged, either. If you or your mentee needs some rejuvenation -- a dinner out, a night away, a socially-distanced roller coaster ride -- check out the link below for Florida's "Just For Teachers" discount page. As we head into the Labor Day Weekend, encourage your mentees to take a break and recharge!

Next, take a look at the "phases of first-year teachers" graph below. At this time, new teachers are in survival mode. However, we also have new teachers who are just getting hired, and they will be in the anticipation stage. The balance between supporting teachers in the anticipation stage with those in survival mode can be challenging. Share this graph with new teachers -- it can help them feel like they are not alone.

What many new teachers are now realizing is that their enthusiasm for the start of the school year is not enough for their students to learn well -- especially in this challenging environment. You might hear statements from new teachers that sound like attitude problems. But they are mostly expressions of frustration over how to address their lack of knowledge or skills.

Right now, it is so important for us to be active listeners -- to really hear what our mentees are saying (or not saying). We have to build their confidence and find their strengths.

In addition to posting September's focus topics for your monthly mentor/mentee meetings, let's think about what our new teachers often say while in "survival" phase. I am hearing these concerns and typical questions from new teachers in every school I visit.

1. Personal: Check, without prying, to see that teachers new to the area are happy with the life they are creating beyond the school community. If you can, assist in resolving any issues. Strongly encourage finding a healthy balance between work and life outside of the school.

  • "When will it get easier? I feel like I am going insane."
  • "I appreciate all of the advice and suggestions, but how about some feedback on what I do is right?"
  • "Do you have tips for how to stay relaxed and positive with my coworkers when I'm super stressed, running around, and distracted?"

2. Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment: We are starting to have virtual open houses in some schools. This event can be anxiety-provoking for new teachers. Do a run-through with your mentee of what goes on during an open house and a few tips on how to shine while presenting to a virtual room full of parents.

  • "How many days should I plan at a time?"
  • "I need help planning for five preps!"
  • "Where do I find materials needed to teach lessons? I am spending hours and hours searching for materials for my lessons."
  • "How do I possibly get ahead in planning, grading, and copying?"

3. Organizational Systems: Although we are only a few weeks in, now is the time to start discussing interims. Show the mentees where they are located, the timeline, and how to complete them.

  • "I am drowning in email messages. How do I organize all of them?"
  • "Please help with grading procedures and systems. How many grades should I be giving? How often should I review grades with students?"
  • "How do I keep track of assignments being turned in -- some virtually, some on paper?"

4. Students: Although many extracurricular activities have been canceled right now, we do have some sporting events lined up at schools. If your school has events in place, encourage your mentee to attend one or two to get to know their students outside the classroom.

  • "How do I get kids to work together who don't get along?"
  • "How do I motivate the kids who say they don't want to learn, care, and refuse to participate?"
  • "How do I get kids to take responsibility for their learning?"

5. Colleagues: Go over policies, possibilities, and potential pitfalls of working with instructional assistants. We have many twenty-somethings who might be directing IAs. This could be their first time leading someone older than they are. This can be really daunting! Talk to your mentee about how to set up goals and directions for their IA if needed.

  • "I need time to plan with teachers in my area but I can't seem to find the time."
  • "How do I plan with my push-in teacher?"

6. School Systems: Continue to talk about your mentee's needed resources and where he/she can locate those items.

  • "How can I get more resources for my classroom without having to spend my own money all the time?"
  • " I ask four different people the same question and get four different answers. How do I know what answer is correct?"

7. Parents and Community: Have your new teacher listen in on how you conduct a parent phone call and how you document it.

  • "How do I get the parents to understand that I can only do so much, their child needs to be responsible for something?"
  • "How do I handle confrontational parents who think their child is not at fault or responsible for the grade they have received?"
  • "I need suggestions for managing parent contact. It seems to be taking a lot of time."

*Special Educators: Discuss strategies for early contact with parents and suggest setting up meetings to introduce themselves and to establish a positive context for future interactions.

Thank you. You mean more to your new teachers than you will ever know! 💚

-Bridget Reed

Breakdown and suggestions taken from Paula Rutherford's Just Ask Publications

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⭐⭐⭐Mentor/Mentee Spotlight ⭐⭐⭐

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Palm Bay Elementary's lead mentor, Suzy Gjesdahl, is working with a teacher new to our county who has taken on the new ELA program and Eureka in full force. Suzy says, "Angie Cubero is well prepared each day and has stayed positive even when things are a challenge!"

Suzy would also like to recognize a new mentor at her school -- Lauren Hollis. Lauren is new to her position as the school's TOA, plus she's working with two mentees. Suzy said Lauren is in classrooms modeling and supporting not only her mentees but grade levels. "She is absolutely amazing at building relationships and supporting teachers!"

I have also included a copy of Suzy's mentee/mentor monthly schedule. Lead mentors, this document may give you some ideas if you have not yet created one for your team.

Awesome job, Suzy, Angie, and Lauren!

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💡💡💡Mentoring Program Ideas💡💡💡

DeLaura Middle School's lead mentor, Nancy Calderone, set up her mentee/mentor meeting with great gifts for everyone featuring the DeLaura mascot, the Scottie dog. Nancy even invited a new teacher (who will be starting as soon as she is HR-cleared) to welcome her to the school community! Nancy's new teacher binder is full of helpful information and as the school year progresses, it becomes a one-stop shop for induction materials. Way to go, Nancy, and the DeLaura mentors!
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➤Coming up: Difficult Conversations Training!

Our No. 1 request from our mentors: more assistance in how to handle difficult conversations. For many teachers, discussing a work-related issue with a colleague can be daunting. This training will assist teachers to speak with clarity and courage to directly address difficult situations. ProGOE registration information will be going out in the September 13th Leadership Team Packet. Dates are set for October 7th, 19th, and November 3rd, virtually, from 5:00 - 7:00 pm.



District Professional Development Day Implementation

As a mentor, please check in with your mentee to make sure they have completed their implementation form for the District Professional Development Day on August 5, 2021. There is a slightly different process for elementary and secondary. If they have not turned in their implementation form, find the following information regarding the different processes for the PD day.

Elementary- Those who participated in the virtual PD through Microsoft Teams were to submit their implementation through a Google Form. Please use the link below to take you to that form. The implementation is due no later than September 7, 2021.

Middle/High- The implementation form received at the check-in table at Satellite and Viera should be turned in at your school. Check with the Assistant Principal for more information on who will be collecting the form. Forms should be turned in to administration as soon as possible.

For those who went to face to face trainings at specialty sites, they should have turned in their forms the day of training.


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