Teacher Mentorship in the Comox Valley – Working Together to Support Students
It’s been an exciting year to be a public school teacher in the Comox Valley! When teachers across the province won back their right to bargain class size and composition with the Ministry of Education in an unprecedented Supreme Court win, the language governing working conditions for teachers went back into effect. This meant that new teachers needed to be hired in nearly every school district across B.C.
Over 100 New Teachers
The Comox Valley was no exception. We have hired a tremendous number of new teachers in the last two years. By last count, it was over 100 new faces. These teachers either came from other districts in the province or country, or they came directly from teacher training. Either way, they are new community members in the Valley and our school district.
With Change Comes Challenge
This influx of new teachers, or teachers switching to different teaching assignments, completely redesigned that staffing at many of our schools. With change comes many challenges. Teachers new to the profession or new to their assignment – or simply new to our community – needed a support structure to facilitate their transition and to keep continuity for the students in their care.
Launch of Mentorship Program
In a move that involved joint collaboration between the School District and the local teachers’ association (CDTA), an effort to expand the New Teacher Mentorship program was launched with full support from all partners. Teachers with many years of teaching experience in the Comox Valley, or who had special skills and training, were encouraged to join the program as mentors. Teachers who were new to the Valley, the teaching profession, or to their teaching assignment were encouraged to join up as protégés. The Mentorship team, headed by Jacquie Anderson as Mentorship Coordinator, matched teachers into groups with similar interests.
The typical mentorship group involves 1-2 mentors and 4-6 protégés. Working in groups rather than in one on one pairings allows for many different experiences, backgrounds, and teaching assignments to work in collaboration with each other, thus enriching the experience.
Mentorship a Good Thing
The teacher Mentorship Program in the Comox Valley has been a smashing success so far. Teachers report feeling more supported and encouraged by this program than ever before. Both mentors and protégés have commented on their involvement in the program as being a fantastic, invigorating, engaging experience. Many mentors express regret that they never had the opportunity to be part of such a program when they began their teaching practice.
The effect on student learning is also very strong. Research shows that when teachers use inquiry, collaboration, and team approaches to their own learning, they are more likely to use those same approaches with students in their classrooms. Just like with students, when teachers feel that their contribution matters, that they are an integral part of the group, they are more likely to engage with the process and take more risks.
Meet the Team
The Comox Valley New Teacher Mentorship Program is a strong indication that when educational partners can find common values and goals, anything is possible. This team is made up of members of the School Board, trustees, teachers, principals, and the local teacher union (CDTA). They have worked together to create a powerful symbol of what shared ideals and principles can achieve when people are willing to work together with a common purpose.
address: 491 4TH St. Courtenay, BC V9N 1G9