- Year 2017
- NSF Noyce Award # 1340044
- First Name Kristen
- Last Name Stephens
- Discipline Other: Math and Science
Richard Hodel, Duke University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rochelle Schwartz-Bloom, Duke University, email@example.com
Kristen Stephens, Duke University, firstname.lastname@example.org
New teachers often need support with curriculum planning, classroom management, and strategies for balancing life and work commitments. The project aims to provide a network of mentoring support for new teachers to increase the likelihood they will remain in the profession. The project responds to the empirical evidence that high quality mentors make a difference in retaining teachers and teachers placed in high poverty schools are more likely to leave the profession early (NCES, 2015).
The Goals of Duke’s Noyce Project are to
1. Recruit and enroll diverse cohorts of highly-qualified STEM graduates and professionals
2. Prepare teachers to improve student achievement in mathematics and the sciences
3. Support new teachers to teach in high-needs school districts
4. Continue longitudinal evaluation and analysis of project
This poster session will focus on outcomes for Goal 3. To address this goal, Duke has established a mentoring project that pairs Noyce Fellows in their first, second, or third year of teaching with Fellows in their fourth year or higher. Additional activities to support new teachers include: a bi-annual Noyce Learning Conference to reconnect Noyce graduates with faculty and colleagues; an online resource center to provide curricular resources to fellows; and annual travel awards to support fellows in their attendance and presentations at professional conferences.
Each mentee receives information (bios) on available mentors and select those mentors they feel are most closely suited to them. Mentees meet their mentors at the Noyce Learning Conference hosted by Duke. The mentees complete a needs matrix, which they analyze with their mentor. Based on this needs matrix, each mentee sets goals for the academic year. The mentor’s role is to support the mentee in meeting his or her goals by providing guidance and resources. Four focus groups are held each academic year (2 for mentors and 2 for mentees) to obtain feedback regarding mentor/mentee relationships and to determine additional supports that are needed. This feedback is critical in modifying aspects of the program to better address the needs of the fellows. Periodic surveys are also sent to mentors and mentees to collect information on the structure of each mentorship. For example, what tools do they use to connect with one another? With what frequency do they communicate.
We have learned the following: 1) A good mentoring program situates itself within the support network already available to the new teacher, and this will vary from teacher to teacher and over time–thus there is no one-size-fits-all mentoring model. 2) Data collection must be perceived as a valuable tool for reflection by the mentee rather than a burden. 3) long-distance mentors should help mentees identify and take advantage of supports available in the school/district. 4) Mentors should initiate contact and keep the lines of communication open to increase the mentee’s comfort with the relationship. 5) To the greatest extent possible, there should be opportunities for the mentor and mentee to observe one another in the classroom. In the upcoming school year, we plan to explore to incentivizing some of the project requirements, expand mentoring dyads to mentoring
networks, and launch a comprehensive recruitment effort to seek a more diverse group of mentors.
The hope is that the framework used to support the Noyce Mentoring project can be replicated by other organizations/institutions. In addition, we plan to continue to follow our Fellows longitudinally to better determine the extent to which their mentoring relationship influenced their decisions to remain in the profession and/or continue to teach at high-needs schools following their commitment to the program. All Noyce Fellows — current and past– have been impacted by this project. Though most mentoring programs tend to focus on the benefits to the mentee, it is quite possible that mentor/mentee relationships also positively impact mentors in their decisions regarding their teaching career. The use of past Noyce Fellows as mentors, provides us with an authentic way to maintain contact with our graduates and to continue to provide them a network of support following their commitment to the Noyce Program.