Exemplary Music Educator Association Mentoring Programs: From the Inside Out


Jennifer L. R. Greene, Fayetteville-Manlius Schools


Bryan Koerner, University of Colorado Boulder


Jill Wilson, Luther College



One of the key initiatives of the Supporting Beginning Music Teachers Areas of Strategic Planning and Action (ASPA) within SMTE is to assist with design and implementation of state level mentoring programs for first year and early career music educators. Members of the ASPA believe it is important to both cultivate new music education association (MEA) mentoring programs while also supporting existing programs. As such, members of the ASPA have recently uncovered wide variations between MEA-sponsored mentoring programs that are made available for new music teachers (Baumgartner et al., 2015; Koerner et al., 2016). Length of support ranged from one to three years, not all programs were mandatory, and not all required training or provided compensation for the mentor teachers. Of particular concern is the finding that few formal mentoring programs were sponsored or run by state MEAs. Although beginning music teachers' experiences within district-level mentoring programs have been well documented (e.g., Barnes, 2010; Conway, 2002, 2003; DeLorenzo, 1992; Roulston, Legette, & Womack, 2005), no researchers appear to have explored the impacts of MEA mentoring experiences. Koerner and colleagues (2016) explored the operating procedures of several state MEA mentoring programs, but these may not necessarily be “best practices.” How would we define a successful MEA program? Are there common characteristics between successful MEA mentoring programs? Perhaps most importantly, how do both mentors and beginning music teachers characterize the most successful elements of such programs? What is the role of music teacher educators in helping state arts organization leaders to develop and sustain a culture of mentoring for all beginning music teachers?


To address these questions, we began with identified states with existing MEA mentoring programs (Koerner et al. 2016). We then used Goldrick’s (2016) mentoring program criteria to further delimit to six MEA mentoring programs: California, Massachusetts, Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, and South Carolina. With the exception of Iowa, these states include program quality criteria addressing "(1) classroom observations of and by beginning teachers; (2) formative assessment of or feedback on teaching from mentors; and (3) participation in a professional learning community or beginning educator peer network" (Goldrick, 2016, p. v).


The purpose of this presentation is to compare these MEA mentoring advertised programs with the insider accounts of the coordinators and participants in these programs to illuminate the most successful characteristics of each. We will compile information provided on websites and publications, and gather further insight through conversations with chairs of mentorship programs in each of the identified states. These data will inform the creation of an interview protocol for participants in the programs, both mentors and mentees, who have been recommended by the MEA program coordinators. Data will then be compared to the previous work of the ASPA and with "best practices" from the mentoring literature. By sharing distinguishing characteristics of identified programs, other states may be provided a framework on which to base new initiatives. We imagine a future in which the value and importance of mentoring is a consistent theme for all teachers in every state.




Baumgartner, C. M., Baughman, M. M., Bond, V., Gottlieb, B., Greene, J., Koerner, B. D., Soja, M., & Stanley, S. (2015, September). The current status of beginning music teacher mentoring and induction programs across the U.S. Research presentation at the biennial national symposium of the Society for Music Teacher Education, Greensboro, NC.

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

Goldrick, L. (2016). Support from the start: A 50-state review of policies on new educator induction and mentoring. New Teacher Center. Retrieved from https://newteachercenter.org/wpcontent/uploads/2016CompleteReportStatePolicies.pdf

Koerner, B. D., Baughman, M. M., Baumgartner, C. M., Stanbery, D., & Millican, S. (2016, March). “Best practices” for designing music teacher mentor and induction programs. Research presentation for the biennial National Association for Music Education Music Research and Teacher Education National Conference, Atlanta GA.

Krueger, P. J. (1999). New music teachers speak out on mentoring. Journal of Music Teacher Education, 8(2), 7–13. doi:10.1177/105708379900800203

Roulston, K., Legette, R., & Womack, S. T. (2005). Beginning music teachers’ perceptions of the transition from university to teaching in schools. Music Education Research, 7, 59–82. doi:10.1080/14613800500042141