Mentors’ impact on new teacher retention in K-12
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The U.S. Department of Education (2015) reported that new teachers’ rates of retention were higher among those who had a mentor assigned to them during their first year of teaching. Teacher induction and mentor programs, as documented by K-12 researchers Koedel, Parson, Podgursky, and Ehlert (2015), have been used to address areas of teacher retention, teacher effectiveness, teacher welfare, meeting mandates, and site acclimation. In response to the well-documented problem of teacher attrition, over 30 states nation-wide use induction strategies by providing supports that develop new teacher capacity, promote professional success, and increase retention. A systematic inquiry, using a qualitative, descriptive, case-study research design, was applied to explore how mentors’ preparedness affects their abilities to serve the needs of new teachers and the impact on retention. Mentors in an urban, K-12, Florida public-school district’s formal induction and mentoring program represented the case used for the study. Identifying the impact of a systematic method of training mentors and their activities that foster the retention of successful new teachers is a gap area that, according to field experts, requires contextual examination (Ingersoll & Strong, 2011). A lack of consistency in mentoring practices in the district was documented in the problem statement and reported in the study findings. State and school board criteria to be a mentor were not followed uniformly. Time was not allocated for mentors to meet with mentees as part of the processes and procedures of the mentoring program, which created challenges mentors were unable to overcome. Provision of regular time for mentors and mentees to carry out mentoring program requirements and mentees placement with mentors experienced in their subject areas and grade levels were recommendations made to improve the mentoring program effectiveness. Replication of the study in other public-school districts to better understand time and placement challenges for mentors across the region could reveal factors specific to the dynamics of each school district and mentoring program and identify processes for addressing those concerns. Evaluating leadership practices to enable school administrators, mentors, and mentees to act and challenge processes that hinder the retention goals of mentoring programs merit further review.