Published November 15, 2010 and Photo by Jennifer Reynolds
Special to Galveston Daily News
By Amanda Casanova
Published November 15, 2010
Nancy Schultz remembers being a new teacher at a new school. The now-retired educator said she had little support in her first years in the classroom.
And now she is heading back to school to give young teachers experienced assistance as a mentor in the Beginning Science Teacher Induction and Mentoring Program.
“What we’re doing is trying to provide support in what makes those early years so challenging for new teachers,” Schultz said. “We assist with lesson planning. We model lessons and just provide strategies for real effectiveness.”
Mentors Schultz, Terry Talley and Sherrie Mulata check in with teachers at least four times a month. Following an observation of the teacher and the students, the mentors have a coaching conference with the instructor.
About 35 math and science teachers in their first two years of teaching at Ambassadors Preparatory Academy, Galveston Independent School District, Texas City Independent School District and La Marque Independent School District are involved in the mentor program.
“Children change and instruction techniques change,” Schultz said. “How the brain works and what’s effective changes. You have to keep up with that.”
And that means more hands-on activities and more student engagement, said Talley, the director of the program.
“We use the best practice research with techniques and strategies in the classroom that work, and that’s what teaching is all about,” she said. “It’s using it and being able to retain it.”
The program also provides professional learning communities of teachers and professional development for participants.
“With the professional learning communities, new teachers get to collaborate with their peers and other new teachers,” Schultz said. “It’s great because they get to touch base with people who may be struggling with the same items and issues as they are.”
Talley said teachers have been receptive to the coaching sessions, changing their instruction methods and their classrooms.
“I did a survey at the end of our first cycle, and all of the teachers wanted to be in it again and bring their friends,” she said. “It’s really growing rapidly.”
Next year, the program, coordinated through the University of Texas Medical Branch Office of Educational Outreach, will expand to 40 teachers if the Texas Education Agency renews a grant for $200,000.
The initial grant for the program, worth $130,000, ends in May 2011.