The Current Status of Beginning Teacher Mentoring and Induction Programs in the US

 

Christopher M. Baumgartner, University of Oklahoma        

cbaumgartner@ou.edu

Melissa M. Baughman, University of Oklahoma

baughman@ou.edu

Vanessa Bond, University of Hartford

vbond@hartford.edu

BettyAnne Gottlieb, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music

bgvoila@gmail.com

Jennifer Greene, Fayetteville-Manlius High School (NY)

JGreene@fmschools.org

Bryan D. Koerner, University of Colorado-Boulder

brko4597@colorado.edu

Morgan Soja, Gardner-Webb University

msoja@gardner-webb.edu

Sarah Stanley, Northbrook School District 28 (IL)

sstanley@northbrook28.net

 

Mentoring and induction programs have become a popular facet of professional development in American public schools due to their perceived impact on “increased teacher retention, improved practice, and improved student achievement” (Achinstein & Athanases, 2006, p. 2).  Recommended or required by a majority of state education departments, the existence of such programs has changed in recent years—increasing from seven states in 1996, to 33 states in 2002 (National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 2003), but decreasing to 27 states in 2012 (Goldrick, Osta, Barlin, & Burn , 2012).  Many issues in the music classroom are specific to our discipline, which may be why beginning music teachers suggested the need for a music mentor (Conway, 2003a).  While music education researchers (Bell-Robertson, 2014; Conway, 2003a; Russell, 2008) and authors (Conway, 2003b; Conway & Hodgman, 2006) have written about the importance of mentoring for beginning music teachers, the current status of mentoring programs specific to music educators remains unclear.  Considering the continual change in state requirements and the need for music-specific mentors, a baseline investigation of existent mentoring programs nationwide seemed warranted.

 

The purpose of this study is to examine the current status of mentoring and/or induction programs for beginning teachers across the United States. A secondary purpose is to examine the involvement of state music education associations (MEAs) in the mentoring process.  To determine whether a state requires induction or mentoring programs for advanced licensure, we searched state department of education (DOE) and MEA websites to gather demographic information (e.g., mentor program title, DOE involvement, state requirements, MEA involvement, guidelines for implementation, funding, mentor training, duration).  We entered this information into a shared database for ease of organizing data and reporting findings.

 

Findings suggest that 36 (70.59%) of states require that early career teachers receive mentorship or induction support to achieve advanced licensure.  State Boards and Departments of Education (n = 25, 69.44%) oversee most of these programs—the majority of which are 1 to 3 years in length.  Seven (19.44%) of the 36 required programs receive full financial support from the state.  Only two state mentoring or induction programs existed prior to the year 2000, after which 10 or more were created during each subsequent 5-year period. Perhaps most strikingly, we found that only 13 (25.49%) of the states with early career teacher induction/mentorship programs offer MEA-led music mentoring programs, all of which appear to be voluntary.  

 

Based on these findings, we posit the need for greater involvement of state MEAs in developing, providing, and aligning state/district mentoring and induction programs for beginning music teachers of diverse backgrounds. In addition, an explanation for the recent surge in state-mandated programs remains unclear. As an extension of this project, members of the Supporting Beginning Music Teachers ASPA will investigate existing MEA–sponsored programs and suggest “best practices” for other state MEAs to consider when developing programs of their own. Details regarding how existing MEA programs most effectively meet the diverse needs of beginning music teachers will be suggested.

 

 

References

Achinstein, B., & Athanases, S. Z. (Eds.) (2006). Mentors in the making: Developing new leaders for new teachers. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Bell-Robertson, C. G. (2014). “Staying on our feet”: Novice music teachers’ sharing of emotions and experiences within an online community. Journal of Research in Music Education, 61, 431–451. doi:10.1177/0022429413508410

Conway, C. M. (2003a). An examination of district-sponsored beginning music teacher mentor practices. Journal of Research in Music Education, 51, 6–23. doi:10.2307/3345645

Conway, C. M. (Ed.) (2003b). Great beginnings for music teachers: Mentoring and supporting new teachers. Reston, VA: The National Association for Music Education.

Conway, C. M., & Hodgman, T. M. (2006). Handbook for the beginning music teacher.  Chicago, IL: GIA.

Goldrick, L., Osta, D., Barlin, D., & Burn, J. (2012). Review of state policies on teacher induction. Santa Cruz, CA: New Teacher Center. www.newteachercenter.org

National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. (2003). No dream denied: A pledge to America’s children. Retrieved April 13, 2015, from http://nctaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/no-dream-denied_summary_report.pdf

Russell, J. A. (2008). A discriminant analysis of the factors associated with the career plans of string music educators. Journal of Research in Music Education, 56, 204–219. doi:10.1177/0022429408326762