If you’re a new teacher in your first classroom, a little advice from a veteran educator goes a long way.

For those who can’t get face-to-face mentoring time, online mentoring can be a big help, says Alyson Mike, director of online professional development at the New Teacher Center, a nonprofit based in Santa Cruz, CA.

The New Teacher Center’s largest endeavor is called e-Mentoring for Student Success (eMSS), a year-long, nationwide mentoring program that pairs novice science, math, and special education teachers with those with experience. Begun in 2002 through a grant from the National Science Foundation, the program offers new teachers constant interactivity with a content-specific mentor as well as research-based curricula. Often, eMSS clients are school districts or departments of education who want to offer more professional development opportunities to their beginning teachers in an effort to bolster AYP scores or new-teacher retention rates.

For educators looking for online mentoring programs, take a look at these:

So, why online mentoring as opposed to face-to-face? Wouldn’t it be better if all beginning teachers could have in-person mentor relationships?

Not necessarily, says Mike. “Because most of the work that we do is asynchronous, you can do it when it’s convenient for you. There’s flexibility in having access to a mentor that meets your schedule. That’s one of the things that comes out loud and clear with the feedback we get” from participants, she says.

Also, many mentees report that the distance an online relationship provides is actually “a very positive thing,” says Mike. “It can be much more comfortable to tell someone at a distance and not someone you’re going to see in the hall the next day. It helps teachers open up and share more of the challenges they have.”

Online mentoring can be a way to pair teachers in the same content area, too – something that’s not always feasible, especially in rural school districts. At eMSS, “if you’re teaching chemistry, there’s an area just devoted to chemistry.”

The New Teacher Center has begun providing webcams so that mentors can watch their mentees’ classrooms in real-time and provide specific feedback. Participants also communicate more and more through Google chat, videoconferencing, instant messaging, and text messaging, so “it’s more in-the-moment, if you will,” says Mike.

  • Elisabethsochacki

    This is a fabulous opportunity for newbies – wishing it had been an option for me. Such insight to note that the distance actually allows a novice to open up knowing the mentor won’t be down the hall. It allows the new teacher  to vent during an incredibly stressful time!

  • Amy Murphy

    How can an “experienced” science teacher volunteer to be a mentor to a new teacher?

  • Roxanned03

    Are any of these programs available for new teachers in the DC area?

    • Alyson Mike

      I am not sure of the availability of the other programs in DC – but eMSS has not geographic boundaries.

      Alyson Mike, Ed.D
      Director, Online Professional Development
      New Teacher Center

  • Lisa

    Interesting piece. The New Teacher Center has great financial resources, as they are heavily vested in CA BTSA Induction. There are costs to districts to participate as well as to attend conferences. I know this as I’m a former CA principal with 14 years in this work.
    I’m now an educational coach/consultant, dedicated to mentoring and supporting new teachers to “teach with soul”. http://teachingwithsoul.com/My passion in this work is to provide the support without in a way that’s free and exciting! So…how about FREE on-line support to teachers around the world done through a variety of ways?Let me share what I’ve been creating for the last 2 years.1. A new teacher chat #ntchat on twitter that new teachers from around the world can and do participate in weekly! Here are two links to the info http://newteacherchat.wikispaces.com/ and http://teachingwithsoul.wordpress.com/ntchat/2. The Teacher Mentoring program that is free to a Global Group of teachers! No cost to connect and totally driven by the desire of the mentee to connect to the virtual mentor, if you will. Here is info on that http://www.edupln.com/group/theteachermentoringproject I started this in January and colleges and Universities world-wide are connecting their students to mentors. They are meeting on Skype or Google+ hang-outs and its amazing!3. Free virtual PD at no cost to the new teacher, driven by their desire to learn and grow. That’s what I created this summer with support from Edutopia.org The New Teacher Boot Camp! Weekly bog posts done with video and assigned lessons. Easy and doable. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/new-teacher-boot-camp Over 1000 teachers registered and over 300 participated! It included a wiki created for teachers to join and create a sample portfolio page of the work they did in the Boot Camp http://edutopia-ntbootcamp.wikispaces.com/ We met on #ntchat to discuss the week’s work and chat about their needs.4. We culminated with a webinar on BlackBoard Collaborate to share our thoughts and reflections.
    This is what I believe is the future of support to new teachers. Giving them a variety of PD opportunities that are free but driven by THEIR desire to learn, grow and reflect. This is the support our teachers are asking for. This is 21st century learning…this is Teacher 2.0.
    Thanks for allowing me to share! Lisa Dabbs @teachingwthsoul:twitter 

  • Alyson Mike

    Lisa -thank you for sharing the other work you have been doing in mentoring.   The New Teacher Center is very much a part of the California BTSA -Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment – but we also work across the US [in all 50 states in eMSS] as well as internationally.   While you are correct, the New Teacher Center offers our professional development as a fee for service, we are excited that we will be providing no cost entry points into eMSS over the next year.

    Part of the the growth plan for eMSS is to provide some level of mentoring support to all new STEM [Science, technology, math, science] teachers within the next year…..and eventually expand to all new teachers.  This model will include scaffolded and vetted resources as well as professional development for new teachers.   The eMSS program offers several entry points into the program that is cost effective while providing a deeper mentor support that accelerates new teacher growth and impacts student achievement.

    When faced with the challenge of providing high quality mentoring that goes beyond the buddy system, how do states, school districts and regions fulfill their mandate to provide support to all beginning math, science and special education teachers and ensure access to a quality education for all students in these key content areas?  That is where eMSS can play a role.
    e-Mentoring for Student Success (eMSS) provides a cost-effective, high quality, research based, content specific solution by offering support to beginning teachers in math, science and special education……Anytime, Anywhere. 

    By partnering with NTC, states and districts can fulfill their obligations to give all new teachers the support they need to thrive and survive even when faced with limited resources or personnel.

    eMSS has research to show that participation has increased teacher retention. A third party evaluation found that mentees in eMSS reported:

       *Being significantly better prepared after participating in eMSS   *A significant increase in preparedness in basic teaching and management skills   *It was “likely”to “very likely” that participation in eMSS components enhanced their ability         to teach science   *Participation in the content area of eMSS improved their understanding of the content

    I couldn’t agree with you more Lisa when you state that PD opportunities should be driven by the new teachers desire to learn, grow, and connect.  As we enter our 10th year – we continue to create personalize learning experiences for the new teachers in the eMSS program within the program.

    Alyson Mike, Ed.D
    Director, Online Professional Development
    New Teacher Center

  • shawn moubray

    Great posts.  Really good article for new teachers or those thinking about going into the profession.

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