Mentoring teachers will make a difference

Davis & Elkins College and Kump Education Center sponsored a workshop Monday to help train experienced teachers who will serve as mentors for D&E student teachers this fall. These mentor teachers gave up their last day of summer vacation to develop their mentoring skills and make the teacher training process more effective.

Most of the new mentors are younger than 40, and they have been teaching about 10 years. Most of the baby-boomer teachers are retiring, and new teachers do not remember a time before “No Child Left Behind.”

Many of them have children of their own in school, and they care enough about the future of public schools to give their attention to teacher quality. As John Kennedy would say: “The torch is being passed to a new generation.”

Last fall, Kump Center Board members recognized that enhanced teacher mentoring was one of the best ways to improve teacher quality. We began looking at teacher mentoring programs in other parts of the world for innovative ideas and started talking with Richard McClain, a local man who has been teaching in the British system in the Middle East.

Mr. McClain recommended that we learn more about Doug Lamov’s Uncommon Schools in New York State. Lamov’s theories have been developed by watching videos of those teachers who have been successful in teaching students who live in poverty. Learning from these teachers makes a measurable difference in test scores of children.

Local mentors will not be expected to transform themselves into Uncommon School teachers, but they will have the benefit of learning new names for many of the effective behaviors that they already use.

The goal of the afternoon session was to find ways to communicate more effectively about what works best for classroom management.

Lamov has identified teaching techniques and named effective methods for teachers. His research is based on observations about teacher behaviors that save time and increase student engagement in the learning process. Lamov’s book, “Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College,” will be used as the textbook for one of the methods classes this fall at D&E.