Teachers Mentoring Teachers

teachers mentoring teachers

Supporting and retaining a world-class faculty at Brookline High School.

After initial funding from the BHS Innovation Fund, Teachers Mentoring Teachers is now fully integrated into the Brookline High School curriculum.

This program was designed to address the major challenge of high turnover among new teachers. Research shows that nationally, 50% of teachers leave the profession within five years of signing their first contract. In fact, 30% leave the profession within their first three years. Replacing these teachers is costly, and this revolving door has a negative impact on student achievement.

This teacher retention problem is exacerbated by national demographics leading to record high teacher retirement rates. For these reasons, school systems are faced with a mass infusion of new teachers. With this loss of critical experience, how do we ensure that valued work on curriculum, culture, and pedagogy is passed on to this next generation of teachers?

TMT is the Innovation Fund’s solution to this major challenge through a comprehensive induction and mentoring program for new staff. The program, led by two veteran teachers, works with new teachers for two to three years to:

  • Engage them in activities before school starts;
  • Integrate a mentoring program into the process;
  • Model effective teaching;
  • Foster collaboration and networking;
  • Provide opportunities for new teachers to observe and be observed without evaluation.

The Program’s results are notable. Since implementing TMT, BHS teacher turnover linked to job dissatisfaction has been reduced to one-third the national average. The program is also making an impact beyond Brookline:

  • A 2003 Harvard University publication on The Next Generation of Teachers cited TMT as one of three exemplary teacher induction programs in the nation.
  • TMT received national attention through a 16-page article written by program leaders Gayle Davis and Margaret Metzger published in The Edge — a Phi Delta Kappa publication — in January 2006.
  • The program leaders also presented their findings in 2006 at the National New Teacher Center Symposium in Santa Cruz — an annual event which attracts more than 1,000 educational administrators and faculty.
  • TMT program leaders brought local attention to the BHS induction program via professional presentations at a summer local districts workshop and a Simmons College teacher-training seminar in March 2007. As a result of this presentation, the TMT program leaders were hired by the Westwood, MA school district to help them establish a “formal” mentoring program and to train Westwood teachers to be official mentors next year.

“I have been able to grow as a teacher, using resources and my colleagues in a much more fluid and effective manner simply because I was exposed to information and peer discussion in our monthly meetings.” — Teachers Mentoring Teachers participant

Unlike college supervisors of student teachers, experienced teachers in a given building are available for sustained support of new teachers, and these veterans can accurately transmit the school’s culture. Mentor teachers from within the school also have a high credibility with the entire staff. After all, we are all struggling to teach well.” — Gayle Davis and Margaret Metzger, the architects of Teachers Mentoring Teachers

In 2007, TMT co-leader, Gayle Davis appeared in a segment on NPR called “Looming Teacher Shortage.”

This very successful program has been fully integrated into the BHS curriculum.