Making Mentoring Meaningful—

A Manual for Mentors of

Alabama’s Beginning Teachers

Alabama Teacher Mentoring Program

Governor’s Commission on Quality Teaching

Alabama State Department of Education

July, 2008



What?...... 4

Why?...... 8

Who? ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 9

How? ...... 12

When?...... 17

References ………………………………………………………………………... ……………..33



Chart 1: Alabama Quality Teaching Standards 5

Chart 2: Innovation Configuration: Components 6 for Alabama Teacher Mentoring Program

Chart 3: Sample Expectations for Major Players in 10

Alabama Teacher Mentoring Program

Chart 4: Sample Job Description for Mentor Teachers 11

Chart 5: Communication Tips 15

Chart 6: Collaborative Assessment Log 16

Chart 7: Praise, Question, Polish 17

Chart 8: Ideas for Finding Time for Mentoring 19

Chart 9: Suggestions for Mentor-Beginning Teacher 21

Interactions Related to Beginning Teachers’ Emotional

Journey During First Year of Teaching

Chart 10: Mentor Log: Record of Time and Activity 33


The Alabama Teacher Mentoring program (ATM) is a cornerstone of Alabama’s Professional Pathways for teachers. Designed to support teachers’ entry into the profession, the ATM engages teacher leaders in scaffolding first-year teachers as they cross the bridge from students of teaching to teachers of students. The expectation is that mentors and their colleagues will use the Alabama Quality Teaching Standards (AQTS) to guide their work with beginning teachers—that the AQTS will be viewed as the “end in mind” of mentoring and teacher development.

Acting on the recommendation of the Governor’s Commission on Quality Teaching and State Superintendent of Education Joseph B. Morton, the 2007 Session of the Alabama Legislature provided funding for stipends to mentors of each of the State’s beginning teachers. The State Department of Education developed guidelines and mentor training for local school districts based upon research and best practice. However, each district has latitude to design a mentoring program that best fits its local context. This is particularly important because many Alabama schools had successful mentoring programs in place prior to the advent of the ATM.Chart2, “Innovation Configuration: Component of Alabama Teacher Mentoring Program,” provides a summary of recommended program components.


Chart 1

Alabama Quality Teaching Standards (Abbreviated Version)

Standard 1:
Content Knowledge / Standard 2:
Teaching and Learning / Standard 3:
Literacy / Standard 4:
1.1 Deep knowledge of subject-matter content and ability to organize related facts, concepts, and skills
1.2Activates learners’ prior knowledge to introduce content
1.3 Connects curriculum to other content and real-life settings to promote retention and relevance
1.4 Designs instructional activities based on state content standards
1.5 Provides instructional accommodations, modifications, and adaptations to meet the needs of each individual learner
Standard 5:
5.1Collaborates with stakeholders to facilitate student learning and well-being
5.2Engages in ongoing professional learning to move practice forward
5.3Participates as a teacher leader and professional learning community member to advance school improvement initiatives
5.4Promotes professional ethics and integrity
5.5Complies with local, state, and federal regulations and policies / Organization and Management of Learning Environment
2.1Designs a classroom organization and management system built upon age-appropriate expectations and research-based strategies
2.2Creates a climate that promotes fairness and respect
2.3Creates a safe, orderly, and stimulating learning environment that nurtures motivation and engagement of learners
Using Instructional Strategies to Engage Learners
2.4Develops challenging, standards-based academic goals for each learner
2.5Engages learners in developing and monitoring goals for their own learning and behavior
2.6Designs lessons that integrate a variety of effective instructional strategies
2.7Creates learning activities that optimize and support each individual’s growth and achievement
Assessment of Learning
2.8Uses formative assessment to provide specific and timely feedback to assist learners and to adjust instruction
2.9Uses summative assessments to measure learner attainment of specified learning targets
2.10Maintains evidence and records of learning to communicate progress
2.11Analyzes disaggregated standardized assessment results to inform planning for individual learners and classes / Oral and Written Communications
3.1Demonstrates standard oral and written communications
3.2Fosters and responds to effective verbal and nonverbal communications during instruction
Development of Reading Skills and Accessing K-12 Literary Resources
3.3Uses age-appropriate instructional strategies to improve learners’ skills in fluency, vocabulary and comprehension
3.4Integrates narrative and expository reading strategies across the curriculum
Development and Application of Mathematical Knowledge and Skills Across Content Areas
3.5Solves mathematical problems across subject areas using different strategies, to verify and interpret results, and to draw conclusions
3.6Communicates mathematical concepts, processes, and symbols within the content taught
Utilizing Technology
3.7Identifies and integrates available emerging technology into the teaching of all content areas
3.8Facilitates learners’ individual and collaborative use of technology and evaluates their technological proficiency / Cultural, Ethnic, and Social Diversity
4.1Develops culturally responsive curriculum and instruction
4.2Communicates in ways that demonstrate sensitivity to diversity
4.3Demonstrates an understanding of how personal and cultural biases can affect teaching and learning
Language Diversity
4.4Supports learners to accelerate language acquisition
4.5Guides 2nd language acquisition and utilizes English Language Development (ELD) strategies
4.6Differentiates between learner difficulties related to cognitive or skill development and those that relate to language learning
Special Needs
4.7Understands and recognizes the characteristics of exceptionality in learning to assist in appropriate identification and interventions
4.8Facilitates inclusive learning environments that support and address the needs of learners
Learning Styles
4.9Helps students access their own learning styles and build upon strengths
4.10Designs learning experiences that engage all learning styles and multiple intelligences.


Chart 2

Innovation Configuration: Components for

Alabama Teacher Mentoring Program

Purpose: The purpose of this Innovation Configuration (IC) is to provide LEAs with an overview of the core components associated with the Alabama Teacher Mentoring Program. This version of the IC describes the ideal or exemplary level of the proposed program. Note: This Innovation Configuration is suggestive, not mandatory. The intent is that it serve as a tool for schools and districts.

Component #1: Principal Leadership and Support / Ideal
  1. The building principal is responsible for facilitating the mentor selection process and ensuring that highly qualified teachers serve in this role.
  2. The principal coordinates the activities of mentor teachers within his/her building, working collaboratively with the mentors to ensure that time and other resources are provided to support their activities.
  3. The principal works with the Central Office Mentor Liaison to ensure that mentors receive adequate training and to coordinate other administrative/support functions related to the program.
  4. The principal encourages and leads the school’s professional community in providing support and encouragement to both beginning teachers and mentors.
  5. The principal monitors the mentoring process, but honors the confidentiality of the mentor-beginning teacher relationship. The principal does not involve the mentor in the evaluation process.
/ X
Com Component #2: Mentor Selection and Assignment / Ideal
  1. The principal coordinates the mentor selection process—which honors #2 and #3 below and involves the faculty in the selection process.
  2. Each mentor assigned to a beginning teacher is an exemplary teacher as evidenced by documented impact on student achievement.
  3. Each new teacher has a mentor who has taught in the beginning teacher’s school or school system. Each mentee has a mentor with teaching experience at the same grade level (elementary) or in the same subject area (middle and high school).
  4. The school principal is responsible for matching mentors with beginning teachers (and adhering to #3 above to the extent possible).
  5. Full-time active teachers who meet stipulated qualifications are assigned to mentor no more than one new teacher; those with a released period for working with mentees are assigned to no more than three new teachers.
/ X
Component #3: Mentor Teacher Training / Ideal
  1. Each prospective mentor engages in on-going profession learning provided through the Alabama Teacher Mentor training program or equivalent training delivered by local system staff.
  2. Each mentor participates in a support group and/or network of mentor teachers to receive ongoing, follow-up information and support. Note: An electronic network can be highly effective.
/ X
Component #4: Mentor Compensation / Ideal
  1. Stipend: Mentors receive a $1,000 stipend per mentee for performance of their mentoring responsibilities.
  2. Release from Extracurricular Duties: Mentors are not assigned extracurricular (i.e., non-instructional duties) with the expectation that this time be spent with their mentees.
  3. Professional Development Credit: Mentors who successfully complete an approved mentor teacher training receive professional development credit.
/ X
Component #5: Scheduling of Time for Mentor-Mentee Activities / Ideal
  1. Principal Support: The school principal works with mentor and beginning teacher to ensure adequate time for mentoring activities.
  2. Pre-School Year Planning Time: When possibleMentors schedule time to work with assigned 1st year teachers prior to the beginning of the school year.
  3. Weekly Contact Time: Mentors and mentees have 2.5 hours of contact time during each week of school (usually scheduled during the school day).
  4. Documentation of Time: The mentor teacher maintains a log documenting time dedicated to mentoring.
/ X
Component #6: System of Support / Ideal
  1. Each local school district will appoint a district mentor liaison to coordinate system-wide mentoring program.
  2. Regional Inservice Centers (RIC) will provide training and training-of-trainers to district liaisons and/or mentors.
  3. The Governor’s Commission on Quality Teaching, Alabama SDE will provide training-of-trainers to RIC mentor consultants and ongoing information and support to individuals at all levels (RIC, LEA, schools).
  4. The Governor’s Commission on Quality Teaching, Alabama SDE, will communicate regularly with District Mentor Liaisons to ensure smooth functioning of the mentoring program.
/ X
Component # 7: Participation in Formative Assessment / Ideal
  1. Each mentored new teacher will complete regularly scheduled assessments of mentoring activities provided by the Alabama Teacher Mentoring Program.
  2. Each mentor will maintain a log of activities/services delivered to mentees and submit to the Mentor Coordinator as requested.
/ X



The ATM has four primary purposes:

  1. To enhance the quality of teaching and

learning for every student in the State.

  1. To provide personal and professional

support to beginning teachers.

  1. To increase retention of beginning teachers.
  2. To provide professional growth and

leadership opportunities for experienced teachers.

A major responsibility of mentor teachers is to increase the instructional effectiveness of new teachers. While it is intuitive that assistance from a seasoned teacher would contribute to increased effectiveness, recent research studies conducted by the NewTeacherCenter offer evidence. One study examined reading gains of students in classes of beginning teachers with mentors. These researchers found that mentored teachers were “more likely to have classes that achieve reading gains than those that do not receive the support and their classes make gains at rates similar to those achieved by veteran teachers” (Strong, p. 4).

A second purpose of mentoring is to promote a smooth transition of new teachers into the profession. Whether the beginning teacher is a young person who has recently completed a traditional teacher preparatory program or a career changer who has entered via alternative certification, the responsibilities of the teaching profession can be overwhelming. New teachers not only need assistance with classroom responsibilities but also with personal issues associated with balancing the demands of teaching with family and otherresponsibilities. The novice also benefits from acculturation into the school community and from support from the broader professional community.

The attainment of the first two purposes contributes to another important outcome: retention of new teachers in the profession—and in their district and/or school. This benefit has budgetary implications for school districts. A number of researchers have examined economic benefits of mentoring, including a recent study that included both small and large districts. These researchers found that the costs of recruiting, hiring, and training a replacement teacher for “leavers” is substantial. The costs ranged from $4,366 in a small New Mexico district to $17, 872 in a very large district (Barnes, Crowe, & Schaefer, 4).

Finally, the ATM provides experienced teachers with opportunities for professional renewal and leadership in their profession. The structure of the ATM encourages a collaborative approach to reflection and learning. In a 2008 survey of mentor teachers in Alabama, many respondents noted that they “had learned as much as their protégés.” Additionally, the mentor position affords classroom teachers withone avenue for professional advancement—a pathway that offers new challenges and experiences as well as additional compensation.


The mentor and the beginning teacher have the starring roles in the ATM. Their principal, school colleagues, and the central office liaison have important supporting roles. The RegionalInserviceCenter and ALSDE Governor’s Commission staff provide infrastructure for the main actors.

The relationships between and among the beginning teacher, mentor, and the school principal are the most important ingredients for program success. Effective working relationships emerge from a clear delineation of expectations of each party to a relationship. Sample “Expectations for Participants in the Alabama Teacher Mentoring Program” appear in Chart 3 on the following page. Each school system and school needs to adopt a set of expectations that are consistent with local policies, resources, and other contextual factors. The sample expectations embody the following principles, which are key to healthy and productive mentoring relationships:

  • All parties to the mentoring process need a shared understanding of the expectations of each member.
  • The mentor and beginning teacher work within the context of a school and school system and require support from both school and central office leaders.
  • Mutual trust and respect between and among individuals at all levels are the hallmarks of positive, productive relationships.
  • Administrators need to respect the confidentiality of communications between mentors and their protégés—keeping in mind that the purpose of mentoring is to support beginning teachers’ successful transition into the profession.
  • Mentors should not be involved in the evaluation process.

The principal is responsible for ensuring that well-qualified professionals serve in the mentor role. Chart 4 provides a sample job description for mentor teachers. The mentor liaison in each school district should work with principals to ensure that an appropriate job description is adopted and used across the system.


Sample Expectations for Major Players inthe Alabama Teacher Mentoring Program

Every new teacher in Alabama can expect to:

  1. Receive ongoing professional assistance and personal support from a well-trained mentor throughout the school year.
  2. Develop a relationship with the assigned mentor that is based upon mutual trust, respect, and confidentiality—one that is focused upon growth and support and does not include a formal evaluative component.
  3. Receive formative feedback from the mentor that is related to his or her classroom performance and growth related to the Alabama Continuum of Teacher Development.
  4. Participate in both formative and summative assessments of the Alabama Teacher Mentoring program to provide information that can be used for program improvement.

Every teacher mentor in Alabama can expect to:

  1. Receive ongoing training and support related to their work with beginning teachers from their system’s mentoring liaison or coordinator.
  2. Have a shared understanding with their principal regarding their role, responsibilities, and the confidential nature of their interactions with new teachers, including clarity that their formative feedback to mentees will not used for formal evaluation purposes.
  3. Receive the support of colleagues in their school as they seek to provide new teachers with the highest quality induction possible to their school, system, and profession.
  4. Receive a $1,000 stipend for each new teacher mentored each year.
  5. Participate in both formative and summative assessments of the Alabama Teacher Mentoring program to provide information that can be used for program improvement.

Every principal in Alabama can expect to:

  1. Receive direction and support from their system’s mentor liaison regarding implementation of the mentoring program.
  2. Coordinate the process of mentor selection—ensuring that the process is a fair one that results in the selection of well-qualified individuals to serve as mentors.
  3. Match mentors with beginning teachers.
  4. Provide support to both the beginning teacher and the mentor as they work together to improve teaching and learning.
  5. Meet regularly with mentors to ensure that the process is working effectively.
  6. Respect the confidentiality of the communications between the mentor and beginning teacher.

Each school system’s mentor liaison can expect to:

  1. Have the opportunity to participate in a process of ongoing training-of-trainer and support delivered by a mentor consultant from their RegionalInserviceCenter and supported by the Office of the Governor’s Commission on Quality Teaching (GCQT), ALSDE.
  2. Have the time and opportunity to provide turn-around training to all mentors in every school in their system.
  3. Work under the leadership of their local superintendent of education who will support their efforts.
  4. Participate in both formative and summative assessments of the Alabama Teacher Mentoring program to provide information that can be used for program improvement.