Embed Development and Mentoring into an Organization’s Culture: An Evolving Framework

Original by Hal Portner, edited by Barry Sweeny

Over the past two decade, many of us involved in staff development and mentoring (D&M) have gained a number of insights during the course of planning, implementing and evaluating a variety of programs. Foremost among the lessons I have learned is that, although well conceived and executed, D&M programs have proven to be fundamental to the development and retention of new teachers, the D&M process must be internalized into the culture of a school in order for it to continue to serve its purpose over time.

It is the acknowledgment and application of the following three principles that form the framework for successfully embedding teacher induction and mentoring into the culture of a school or district.

Principle 1: Systems-Thinking

A D&M program consists of both internal and external relationships. Not only do the components within a program interact with each other, but the program itself invariably interacts with a surrounding array of
related programs. Application of this principle calls for Systems-Thinking

Principle 2: Collaborative-Doing

A D&M program involves more people than just mentors and mentees. Leaving the responsibility of inducting and mentoring new teachers to assigned mentors only, is short sighted and a prescription for failure. There are many other people who need to be actively involved. Application of this principle calls for Collaborative-Doing.

Principle 3: Committed Leading

A D&M program thrives on informed dedication and purposeful nurturing. Resources such as time, money and people are essential, of course, but more important are motivated and proactive leaders who guide the transformation of their schools’ culture to the point where communal support of induction and professional
growth of beginning teachers is the norm. Application of this principle calls for Committed Leading.

The basis for this article was a chapter written for “Teacher Induction and Mentoring: The State of the Art and Beyond”, of which Hal Portner is the editor, and which is available from Corwin Press, Inc.. Hal Portner’s email is hportner@comcast.net