Support for New Teachers

When new teachers arrive at a school they are often provided a mentor. Depending on the mentor’s experience, personality and disposition, the experience for the incoming teacher can be variable. At Geelong College we didn’t really have a process in place to support incoming teachers nor their assigned mentors. This was mainly due to the fact that we had such a stable staff and low turnover that it wasn’t really required.

As this changed we needed something in place to support mentors with this important job as it is essential that a new or beginning teacher recieves a high level of support, especially in their first years of teaching and in particular, their first term in the school.

As part of our new staff induction program we got all mentors together for an old school briefing and provided them a checklist or a minimum expectations framework to guide the support of their new colleague. The briefing covered the following main points:

  • It is essential that the new or beginning teacher recieves a high level of support, especially in their first term in the school. Keep in mind that, at this stage, the beginning teacher may not be ready to be mentored in terms of intensive professional dialogue. They do need a buddy to help with oreintation to the profession and/or the workplace. A buddy can then grow into a mentor.
  • At the very beginning of the year it is imperative that those in mentor roles ensure that new staff are aware of logistical and operational College matters by following the checklist provided (this will be listed below.)
  • Mentoring is essentially a formalised relationship that supports and encourages professional learning. When a new teacher is ready for this to take place, a number of structural elements supporting the relationship will be put in place including; regular and timetabled meeting times between the mentor and mentoree, close physical proximity in terms of office space where possible and the mentor assigned will usually be in the same school and where possible the same subject area.

Support for New Staff Checklist

Mentors are expected to contact new staff to welcome them to the College. This could be via email or phone, but in person is even better. If the new staff member is to commence at the start of the year then mentors should brief them about the staff professional learning program that is held at the start of each school year. If the new staff member is commencing at some point throughout the year, the mentors should arrange to meet prior to them commencing.

First Day

Mentors should meet with new staff on the new staff orientation day, prior to the staff professional learning progrm commencing. They will spend the afternoon with them at their respective campus, stepping them through College operations. They wil also liaise with the College eLearning leader, to have a session on ICT platforms and procedures if it should be required. If the new staff commencement date is at some point throughout the year, then mentors will need to make different arrangements to ensure the new staff feel at ease and welcome.

Mentor Checklist

The following items should be covered by the mentor upon commencement of the new staff member:

  1. Laptop has been collected and appropriate ICT support has been arranged including email access, and different ICT platforms have been logged into and can be navigated. This includes a brief introduction to the College Portal. Helpdesk support is also explained.
  2. Keys – have been distributed and any alarm codes given out.
  3. Parking – where to park.
  4. Bathrooms.
  5. Introduction to key College personnel such as Heads of School, Library staff and appropriate Administration staff.
  6. Term dates and school calander.
  7. Teaching timetables have been downloaded, yard duty and common room rosters, location of rooms shown, bell times and 10 day cycle all explained.
  8. Dress code for staff.
  9. Ensure office space is allocated and new staff member has access to required stationary.
  10. A pigeon hole has been assigned and new staff member knows where this is.
  11. Phone extensions and ensuring new staff member is on the phone directory but also knows where to access numbers and how to use phone.
  12. Remind new staff member of new staff handbook that is available.
  13. Relevant policies and procedures have been explained.
  14. Co-curricular information has been given out, and if appropriate, sports uniform organized.
  15. Mentor/Tutor responsibilities explained if appropriate.
  16. Informal discussions about the expectations of the teaching role and responsibilities.
  17. Meetings – which meetings they will be expected to attend and where.
  18. Class role marking expectations.
  19. Morning tea for staff, use of kitchen, coffee and canteen arrangements.
  20. What to do if sick or absent from the College for any reason.
  21. Support with ongoing reporting or report writing cycles and parent/teacher interviews.
  22. Ongoing support ie. regularly liaise with the Director of Teaching and Learning and the new staff member ensure beginning teacher is tracking well and clear of VIT expectations for gathering evidence for full registration etc.
  23. There are plenty of social events at the College that staff are expected to attend. Make sure you keep an eye out for your mentoree at these events and ensure they feel included by introducing them to others.
  24. Be friendly, a good listener and ask good questions.

I am sure many checklists like this exist, but this one seems to work quite well for us.

Anything missing?

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