Theme of the month

Theme of the Month

Join us each month as we focus on a topic of interest to STEM Teacher Leaders with a webinar panel, open
discussion, resources and blog post. 

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Join the Discussion: Next Generation STEM Mentoring: An Important Lever in Elevating the Profession

In this facilitated discussion, we will explore importance of mentorship in the STEM teaching profession. We invite your participation!


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I struggle each year with making sure that my interactions with mentees are not something else...yet another obligation. I don't want to be a burden, I want to be helpful. Open to advice or words of wisdom. Thank you, Jenn

Mon, 07/19/2021 - 6:30 PM Permalink

Hi Jenn,

Time is such a precious commodity during the school day and year. Each day folks need to prioritize and practice separating the urgent and the important. That's not an easy task, especially for new teachers. My approach is to be there and not push for change. Rather ask reflective questions including some of the open-ended questions we ask students. Often mentees will ask you for a suggestion... a quick fix. That is an important moment. Don't try to solve their problem as tempting as that may be. Instead, stay with some reflective questions, such as. 'what you would like to see?' 'what might that look like' 'how might you know if you're on target,' "what are some things that have helped you in the past', 'what are some resources we might consider' if they don't know where to start, get permission to offer suggestions and then offer two or three ideas to choose from, then go back to getting them to think about how they might implement. Continue to work on the strategy they chose and stick with open ended (non-evaluative) planning & reflective questions. Then trust the process. Be there, be there, be there. That process of helping them think and be in the driver's seat will make your time together valuable and not just one more thing. Overtime that relationship will get stronger and they will seek you out as a thought partner because you will make them feel capable and successful. You're not a burden, you are a gift they may not yet understand what do with. But be there, to help them lift themselves up and you'll be their favorite, trusted resource. I hope that's helpful. ~Suzanne 

Tue, 07/20/2021 - 9:55 AM Permalink

Hi Jenn,

Just adding to the already excellent advice that Suzanne gave: making your mentees feel empowered will give them the confidence to not only build their teaching self-efficacy but also encourage them to turn to you more frequently for advice. As Suzanne said, once they feel that they're in the driver's seat and have autonomy over their own decisions, you'll find that they'll be coming more to you rather than you always checkin in on them. Practically speaking, I would suggest an early initial check in with your mentee where you ask them to evaluate and assess their own teaching and allow them to set their own agenda. It may take a lot of flexibility on your end, but I've found that being flexible is what mentees appreciate the most.

I hope you find this helpful,


Mon, 07/26/2021 - 1:35 PM Permalink
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Thanks for a great conversation with many practical resources! I participated in Ambitious Science Teaching book study/chat led by Suzanne as a new retiree.  What I’ve learned has been a great help as I continue to contribute to small science projects.  I like this image from teacher leader profile

Wed, 07/21/2021 - 10:37 PM Permalink
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The panel presentation offered a ton of practical advice and resources - thank you!

As I take it all in, I wonder if anyone in the group has any specific suggestions on how I can best support two new middle school teachers that are joining our team. They are both first year teachers and I am a first year Department Chair. 

What should I consider to help prioritize our time together and offer meaningful support?

Your insights are appreciated. ~Kathy

Sun, 07/25/2021 - 11:54 AM Permalink

Hi Kathy,

Thank you for your question. I entered the profession as a middle school math teacher and here were the practical aspects I appreciated from my mentor teacher:

(1) observe classroom management and pedagogical content delivery from reputable master teachers - a couple times, my mentor teacher offered to have me observe her class during my prep period. If scheduling is an issue, perhaps logistics may be worked out with an administrator to help find coverage for classes, which I understand is already an issue in itself. I remember hearing from one administrator that they would cover teachers' classes for one class period to get an observation in, and I really appreciated that type of administrative support.

(2) sharing of practical resources - novice teachers do not have a lot to begin with. My mentor teacher not only shared math worksheets and classroom resources with me, but pulled items together from other teachers in the school as well. They weren't necessarily math resources either; she was able to request non-content related resources from teachers of other subjects that were still very valuable and helpful such as grading practices, instructional organization templates, etc. 

(3) listen, celebrate, and reflect - last but not least, and something that I also mentioned in my response to your reply to my blog post is opportunity to listen to the novice teachers' needs, celebrate their successes no matter how small, and reflect upon challenges. I appreciated sessions where I just came in to vent before the school day ended. I hated having to bring the emotional stress of work home, but having the opportunity at the end of the day to just reflect with my mentor helped me get that stress and frustration out before I left campus.

I hope you've found this information helpful, and I'd be glad to discuss other details if you have any further questions.


Mon, 07/26/2021 - 2:08 PM Permalink
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