Veterans mentor new advisers throughout the year
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JEA Mentoring Program
Northwest Scholastic Press, Journalism Education Association and Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association have joined forces to provide mentors for new journalism teachers in Oregon — whatever stage of their career they are in.
Oregon now has three highly qualified mentors who work with Oregon advisers throughout the school year. Each of them is a graduate of the JEA Mentor Training program, funded through NWSP. Annual expenses for the program are shared by NWSP and ONPA.
NWSP receives progress reports from our mentors throughout the year, and the program is evaluated annually.
The reality of the high school classroom for any beginning teacher – developing effective instructional strategies, applying theoretical knowledge, meeting individual students’ needs, incorporating changing curriculum frameworks, preparing students for high stakes assessment testing, integrating emerging technology, dealing with class management issues, and remaining sensitive to societal issues – may be one of the most challenging transitions faced by teachers in their entire professional careers.
The JEA Mentoring Program helps beginning journalism teachers make a successful transition into journalism teaching by relying on the expertise of veterans to provide a clinical, real-world training process. Districts that provide effective support for new teachers attract the most capable candidates, who are more likely to become proficient and are less likely to quit.
Student publication programs thrive with a knowledgeable, supportive adviser who helps students develop a culture of responsible journalism within the school community.
New journalism teachers who are mentored receive higher ratings from their principals, develop better planning skills, handle discipline problems more effectively, conduct more productive classroom discussion, and remain in classrooms longer than teachers who are simply left to “sink or swim.” Veteran teachers who serve as mentors report increased professional revitalization, less isolation, greater recognition, and a belief that they impact the profession more than teachers who are not involved in mentoring new professionals.
The JEA Mentoring Program is designed to…
- Provide on-going training and support for new journalism teachers and/or advisers
- Promote effective teaching and instruction including First Amendment rights and responsibilities.
- Support new journalism teachers so that they will become highly qualified teachers in this field
- Create journalism programs that encourage diversity in classroom and student media
- Utilize the expertise of retired journalism educators with extensive knowledge of journalism and advising and enthusiasm for mentoring
- Encourage development of new journalism teachers professionally and personally, especially through the resources of continued training at workshops, conferences, conventions and classes
- Address needs of new journalism teachers by enhancing their knowledge and skills, thus improving the quality of student learning
- Provide an ongoing support system that is part of the professional learning community at and beyond the new journalism teacher’s school
- To help new teachers/advisers develop good habits of pedagogy in journalism classes and
- after-school journalism programs (improving teacher practice)
- To retain quality journalism teachers/advisers
- To help build stronger scholastic journalism programs
- Outstanding, knowledgeable advisers who are retired or near retirement
- Recognition as an outstanding teacher who maintains positive peer relations
- Understanding of beginning teacher development
- Ability to discuss assessment information and share instructional ideas and materials with mentees
- Commitment to their own professional growth and learning
- Possession of effective interpersonal and collaborative skills
- In order to build a national program to support scholastic journalism advisers, we are depending on the knowledge and experience of veteran advisers and expect commitment to help the program in these areas:
- Commitment of two years to the mentoring program
- Completion of mentor training
- Attendance at one mentor forum at fall or spring convention
- Agreement to communicate regularly with each mentee, including several face-to-face meetings during the school year
- Agreement to meet with each mentee’s school administration both to establish the school’s support of the mentorship and also to assist the mentee in establishing an effective setting for the journalism program
- Agreement to do data collection and required record keeping, including monthly reports
- Agreement to help secure in-state funding for stipend and miscellaneous expenses, including workshops, conferences, etc. for the mentee.
- Willingness to help with the development of the JEA Mentoring Program.
Role: Mentors will…
- Facilitate the understanding of the responsibilities of a professional teacher based upon the professional teaching standards
- Have effective communication skills and ability to honor confidentiality
- Be familiar with own learning style and the learning style of the mentee, and how his/her learning style affects his/her teaching.
- Guide mentees through demonstrations, observations, and consultations to promote instructional excellence
- Learn and understand district policies and procedures in mentees’ schools
- Provide ongoing support, advice and counsel to mentee
- Understand and use assessments effectively
- Establish a system of ongoing communication with mentee, which can include school visits, phone conversations and e-mailing
- Model and encourage reflection on teaching and advising
- Act as coach, suggesting strategies (when appropriate) relating to planning, time management, discipline, working with parents, etc.
- Act as motivator, helping build the mentee’s confidence through encouragement and inspirational success stories
- Serve as a model of effective teaching and publication advising
- Promote awareness of diversity and inclusion issues for regular classroom instruction and for student media
- Have full command of journalism curriculum (when possible)
- Suggest procedures necessary for efficiently running a publication staff including daily meetings, staff organization, publication organization, deadlines, staff selection, grading, printer selection, etc.
Selection of Mentors
Mentors are identified and recruited by members of state scholastic press associations. As the program expands, an application process may be developed to help identify additional mentors.
During the school year, mentors may communicate with their mentees in many ways, but regular face-to-face contact is preferred whenever possible. For each mentor-mentee team, the specific time will vary. The goal is to meet with mentees as often as possible, and we recognize local circumstances like distance may affect this. Mentors can expect their duties to take from ten minutes to several hours per week, per mentee, depending on the needs of the mentee. The mentor should anticipate the following minimum contacts and time commitment
- One introductory face-to-face meeting at the beginning of the relationship.
- A recommended minimum of two informal visits to the mentee’s workplace.
- Recommended one monthly face-to-face meeting (ideal, but not always possible)
- A minimum of two routine contacts a month
Either mentor or mentee may initiate contacts. Whenever possible, team members should establish a regular schedule of contacts.
Besides the actual time working with mentees, mentors will need time to document and reflect on their work using the log that will be provided and explained during training; record information that will document and demonstrate the growth of their mentees; and research and prepare information that will assist their mentees.
During the school year, mentors will fill out a monthly report on their progress as well as an end-of-the-year report summarizing progress of mentees.
Toward the end of the two-year cycle, the mentors’ time commitment to their mentees will probably be reduced
In this first year, mentors should select a minimum of two mentees during the summer. In the month after training, mentors should plan to meet with the mentee and school administrator to explain the program and ask for their commitment for two full school years.
The number of mentees for each mentor may depend on the mentor’s distance from the person’s school and the degree of independence the mentee may exhibit.
Mentors who are still in the classroom should limit the number of mentees at any given time.
Mentees from urban and rural schools, especially those with large populations of traditionally underserved students in urban and rural areas, will be given preference.
The mentors must attend three days of training in the summer.
The mentor training is designed to prepare mentors for their work with new teachers. Much of the training is based on pairs and small groups working together, both working through training activities and developing a rapport for the entire mentor cohort.
Toward that end, attendance at the training sessions is limited to the mentors. JEA board members or individuals who are involved in the oversight of mentor states or who are interested in becoming involved in the program are welcome to make brief observations but should make arrangements in advance with the mentor trainers.
JEA-trained mentors may not train other state mentors until certified as a mentor trainer by the JEA Mentoring Committee.
New mentors should start the first year with two or three mentees. Mentors already in the field should take on an additional two mentees, depending on how many they already have.
- Be the newly assigned journalism teacher or publication adviser on campus
- Little or no experience with journalism or advising
- Willing to commit to two years of mentoring, through the spring of the second year
Role: Mentees will…
- Be open to receiving suggestions, support, guidance, and constructive criticism
- Have true commitment to the mentoring program
- Establish professional goals with assistance from mentor
- Develop a working knowledge of the state teaching standards with the intent to improve the effectiveness of his/her instruction
- Be willing to take risks, ask questions, and try new ideas
- Establish open communication and honor confidentiality
- Be determined to remain in a journalism position and improve the quality of his/her publication
- Support the journalism-specific mentor program even if the school has an established mentor program in place
- Act in a supportive way with the mentee.
- Provide opportunity for mentee to observe practitioners who are exemplars and will advance the practice of the mentee.
- Provide release time, if funding is available, for mentee to attend journalism workshops, conferences and conventions
- Support the student publication by guaranteeing the students their First Amendment rights
- Evaluate the mentee’s teaching and training of students, not the student publication
In addition, the building administrator is encouraged to attend a journalism convention, conference or workshop with the new journalism teacher/adviser to support that teacher and become better informed about scholastic journalism.
There may be circumstances when an assigned mentor may not be able to complete his or her assigned mentoring role. These circumstances may range from events in the life of a mentor, personality conflicts, or professional conflicts. If these circumstances arise, every effort will be made to arrange for an alternate mentor at least by the following school year.
Mentor teachers must have the knowledge and skills to identify and respond to beginning teacher needs and to create a collegial relationship that positively engages program participants.
Components of the training program will include the following:
- Learning to observe, coach, and give constructive feedback to peers, including strategies for self-reflection
- Utilizing best instructional practices, classroom management, and organization
- Dealing with difficult or resistant people and conflict resolution
- Enhancing communication skills and building relationships
- Clarifying mentor’s roles and responsibilities
- Finding mentees and getting them to commit to the program
Documenting the program will be very important in terms of:
- Providing information to help expand the program to new mentors and new states.
- Helping determine how to make adjustments in the program to make it more effective.
- Establishing a record of documented success that can be used in soliciting funding.
- Providing a written report of the mentoring program to the JEA board prior to each convention.
- Part of documenting the program also would include obtaining publicity, which could include articles in C:JET, a Soundslides show on the JEA Web site, news releases sent to the mentors’ community media, and a podcast about the mentoring program.
- Everyone who provides support for the program will receive regular reports on the program. The committee will report regularly to JEA.
Evaluation of the mentor teacher program will focus on its effectiveness in meeting the following goals:
1. Retaining quality teachers
2. Improving teaching practice
3. Building stronger scholastic journalism programs
Both mentors and mentees will be asked to provide information regarding their experience in the mentoring program. Sources may include surveys, reflective journals, systematic observation (formal/informal), interviews, student outcomes, and mentor documentation (logs).