- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1548986
- First Name Maria
- Last Name Rivera Maulucci
- Discipline Chemistry, Geosciences, Math, Physics
Lisa Edstrom, Barnard College, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Edstrom, Barnard College, email@example.com; Lisa McDonald,Columbia University, firstname.lastname@example.org; Romi Messer, Barnard College, email@example.com
Over the course of the grant, Barnard has worked to provide optimal support for scholars as they leave the university and begin their teaching careers through a mentoring program. However, with the many demands upon new teachers, including professional development and mentoring provided and mandated by their schools and the demands upon a small number of faculty with a growing number of scholars needing mentoring, we have found that we had to adapt our own mentoring program. With limited time and resources, we have redesigned our mentoring program in ways that other programs might find useful as well.
We explore the question of what forms of mentoring do scholars need, both while in school and in their first years of teaching, as we tweak our redesign of scholar mentoring. Guiding questions to this practical inquiry include: What forms of mentoring work best for our scholars? How do we mentor scholars who leave NYC, if we cannot visit them at their schools? What forms of mentoring can a small faculty practically provide as the numbers of scholars increases? Can scholars support one another through a peer mentoring model? What should this model be?
Mentoring experiences included attending conferences, conference calls with faculty, and faculty visits to the new teachers’ classrooms. In the shift to peer mentoring, we began holding monthly dinner meetings on campus with virtual attendance available. Each meeting would focus on a particular topic in STEM teaching, such as phenomenon-driven instruction and fostering academic discourse. This year we also introduced two doctoral student researchers to the monthly meetings who have begun to plan and collaborate with our scholars in research on STEM teacher preparation.
Outcomes to the shift in mentoring approach include increased participation, crowd-sourcing of resources that were then available to all scholars regardless of attendance, and increased motivation to stay connected. Additionally, this model has provided us with an effective vehicle for connecting our doctoral student researchers with our scholars to conduct research on our approach to STEM teacher preparation. Finally, as we consider next steps, we might consider how as scholars engage in peer mentoring, they learn to be teachers leaders. There is the potential for them to turnkey both mentoring skills and ideas, concepts, teaching methods, etc. learned through our peer mentoring program in their own school settings, thus creating a pathway for greater impact on STEM education.
Providing optimal mentoring has the potential to improve teacher practice and therefore have a direct positive impact upon the K-12 students of our scholars. This project can serve as a model for other programs exploring ways of providing effective mentoring to scholars, both while in school and in their first years of teaching. This project considers the mentoring from the perspective of the scholars at all stages (teacher candidates and teachers) and faculty members, thus providing an opportunity to explore what works for both groups. Next steps include exploring ways to increase the impact of the peer mentoring program by supporting scholars to become mentors for other STEM educators in their schools, broadening the impact of the mentoring program.