A Challenge: Keeping New Teachers in the Profession
Keeping new teachers in the profession, and helping them to quickly and continuously grow and improve, has historically presented itself as a challenge. This year, these areas of need are potentially amplified as new teachers learn their craft in a hybrid or virtual environment. Additionally, the Texas Education Agency reports that beginning teachers feel especially ill-prepared in key areas like instructional practices, planning strong lessons, and teaching English Learners or students with disabilities. There are ways to mitigate these struggles – even as teachers learn to teach in a different environment. Research has found that multiyear mentoring and induction programs can alleviate many challenges that teachers face in their first two years in the classroom, leading to improvements in student performance, teacher effectiveness, and teacher retention.
A Solution: The Mentor Program Allotment
Responding to this need and the accompanying research, the Texas legislature created the Mentor Program Allotment (MPA) in the landmark 2019 education bill (House Bill 3). The MPA is an optional program for districts to develop a mentor program to pair beginning teachers with less than two years of experience and mentor teachers with at least three years of experience and a record of success in improving student achievement. This opportunity provides $1,800 per new teacher – including both teachers in their first or second year of teaching as well as those who are in their first or second year teaching a new subject area – to support mentor stipends, scheduled release time, and training.
The MPA is designed to support more effective mentoring programs that help new teachers to improve their classroom practice more rapidly, leading to better support for students and greater job satisfaction and retention for new teachers. Long-term, mentorship-based induction and ongoing support for new teachers will not only make it more likely that first-year teachers are successful and stay in the profession, but this program will also create teacher leadership opportunities for educators – which research also has shown to be effective at improving student outcomes and improving retention rates.
A Partnership: Develop Your Mentor Program with NIET
In the first cycle of the MPA, the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) partnered with 16 districts to support their MPA efforts, impacting over 300 new teachers and more than 4,000 students. Through high-quality face-to-face and virtual training, the NIET team has collaborated with district and campus leaders to transform traditional mentoring programs into instructionally focused, capacity-building systems.
Through MPA training with NIET, mentor teachers develop their coaching skills and become rooted in how to make data-driven improvements in instructional practice to support teacher growth, using T-TESS as a tool. These skills will benefit new teachers directly as well as build the capacity across the school to improve teaching and learning.
NIET's Research-Driven Approach to Mentoring Programs
As one of the TEA-approved training providers, NIET assists districts in developing systems and/or enhancing what is already in place to create an effective mentoring and induction program.
NIET's support helps districts to:
- Understand the expectations of the MPA mentor role;
- Know the defining characteristics of high-quality mentoring and support;
- Apply adult learning theory to build trust and support beginning teachers;
- Develop a WHY for mentoring on your campus and set guiding principles for your work;
- Understand the similarities and differences between mentoring conversations and coaching conversations;
- Understand the core elements of instructional coaching in an induction program;
- Understand the coaching cycle and how to collect and use data within the cycle;
- Identify curriculum and pedagogy tools and resources for beginning teachers and determine what to "look for" as evidence of proficient instruction in classrooms;
- Understanding what makes data high-quality and how to use it to drive instruction; and
- Plan for mentoring and coaching on your campus.
NIET's training covers five key areas of teacher leadership that research has proven to be effective: foundational leadership, instructional expertise, data-driven, collaborative partnerships, and professional advocate.
You Can Do This, Too: Mentor Program Allotment Cycle 2 in Fall 2020
Districts can apply for the second cycle of MPA funding later this fall, with awards expected in January, and NIET is able to support districts as they design their program and submit their application. Awards of up to $100,000 will support districts to pair beginning teachers with experienced mentor teachers – increasing the effectiveness of new teachers along with their retention in the profession.
- Opportunity: Work with NIET to develop or strengthen mentoring for teachers in their first or second year of teaching, or their first or second year teaching a new subject area.
- Funding: Districts may be awarded $1,800 per beginning teacher, up to $100,000.
- Application Due: The application window will open in late fall 2020.
- Timeline: Successful applicants will be notified in January 2021 (tentative) and receive funding in time for the 2021-22 school year.
- Learn more from TEA: Learn more about the MPA by visiting the Texas Education Agency website.
New Teachers Need Support – Mentors Can Help
Find out how we can help your district to design or strengthen your mentor program, access MPA funds in cycle 2, and support new teachers to be successful. Contact Stephanie Mosqueda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Ingersoll, R.M., & Strong, M. (2011). The impact of induction and mentoring programs for beginning teachers: A critical review of the research. Review of Educational Research, 81(2), 201-233.