Mentoring is officially invited to public schools in Quebec with the application of the new collective agreement. While some mentors will have a well-defined task, many will be left with only their goodwill and desire to help, without necessarily knowing where to start. While the state of research does not yet identify the best combinations of supports, here are some things to keep in mind when developing a school mentoring program.
According to Carpentier et al. (2019), the support needs of new teachers fall into five categories. We offer here an overview of these needs, as well as the means that can be put in place to allow effective support.
1. Organizational socialization
New teachers may feel isolated, hence the importance of helping them develop a sense of belonging to their new workplace. Introducing them to the team is a good start. Harmonious integration also requires familiarization with the environment so that they can learn about its internal procedures, habits and ways of doing things. This new school becomes not only their working environment, but for many, it is also a second home.
Planning (choice of material, teaching sequences, evaluations, etc.) and correction (choice and application of evaluation criteria) with experienced teachers, therefore in teams, can be particularly beneficial. In addition, the sharing of material will be greatly appreciated, and especially for those who teach a subject for which they are not trained.
3. Classroom management
Student behavior is the pet peeve of many teachers. We know that the best behavior management is when disturbing and harmful behavior is avoided. Observation is a particularly effective tool to help new teachers identify the different actions to take, the key moments and the reactions to recommend in order to improve a situation. In addition, this method allows a reflection on the practices, therefore to make a more concrete link between the initial training and the reality on the ground.
4. Educational differentiation
While the principles of differentiation are usually known, it is often in practice that this measurement becomes more complex. The Quebec Ministry of Education has developed a guide to this end and specific suggestions by matter. Concrete examples implemented at school can help the harmonious integration of practices. For example, how do you manage the extra third time? In recovery? Keep the students at dinner? Also consult the École branchée file on educational differentiation.
5. The personal and psychological aspect
Maintaining positive relationships fosters a sense of self-efficacy and professional belonging. These positive relationships therefore contribute to the psychological well-being of new teachers at work and make it possible to reduce the “impostor syndrome”, which affects more than one.
In conclusion, let us remember that one of the most significant difficulties experienced by new teachers is the lack of time. In this context, the planned interventions benefit from being concise and implemented at the right time.
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Optimal support should therefore materialize in two stages: helping to prevent what is foreseeable and, then, reacting and learning from past events in order to become a better teaching professional.
Thank you to all the mentors and future coaches for this dedication to the next generation of teachers!