Mentoring New Special Education Teachers: A Guide for Mentors and Program Developers


Mary Lou Duffy & James Forgan

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  • Dedication

    To my mentors: Dr. Gene Watson, Dr. Thomas Stich, and Dr. Elliott Lessen. Thank you for letting me take the best of each of you. You always did have plenty to share.


    I dedicated this book to my dad, Dr. Harry Forgan, Jr., who has always been my mentor and hero.



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    Corwin Press

    The Corwin Press logo—a raven striding across an open book—represents the union of courage and learning. Corwin Press is committed to improving education for all learners by publishing books and other professional development resources for those serving the field of K-12 education. By providing practical, hands-on materials, Corwin Press continues to carry out the promise of its motto: “Helping Educators Do Their Work Better.”

    Introduction: Overview

    Mentoring New Special Education Teachers is designed to assist educators who are developing a mentoring program for new special education teachers, for individuals selected to mentor a new special education teacher, and for new special education teachers. The field of special education experiences a frequent attrition of teachers, thus teacher retention is a prominent topic discussed in professional literature and at conferences. According to the Council for Exceptional Children (2000a), within the first five years of teaching, 4 out of 10 teachers leave the field of special education. This figure is alarming considering an Education Week report (2002) indicated that 98% of school districts report shortages of special education teachers. Furthermore, the number of new special education teachers predicted for the near future is astounding as current teachers retire, move into other education positions, or leave special education. According to Boyer and Mainzer (2003), during the past ten years the growth in the number of students with disabilities has increased by 30% where as the growth in teaching positions grew by 11%. More students are entering special education than there are teachers to teach them.

    The Council for Exceptional Children (2000a) predicts that by the year 2005, over 200,000 new special education teachers are needed throughout the United States. Presently, there are no indications that the demand for new special education teachers will subside anytime in the near future. McLeskey, Deutsch-Smith, Tyler, and Sanders (2002) report in their review of research on the shortage of special education teachers that the shortage exists across all regions of the United States, is chronic and long term, and will worsen over the next decade. The need for mentoring programs, as a form of special education teacher retention, is vividly clear.

    School districts are reacting to the shortage of special education teachers by using various strategies such as adopting the “grow your own philosophy” of training paraeducators from within school districts. Other districts are recruiting teachers from distant geographic areas where there are higher than average numbers of special education teachers. Additionally, states and school districts are implementing mentoring programs as a retention activity. According to Feiman-Nemser (1996), the magnitude of mentoring programs has increased with over 30 states mandating mentoring support for beginning teachers. Resource B contains a list of states that mandate mentoring programs. State education agencies and local school districts recognize that it is cost efficient to support and retain existing teachers as compared to the recurring costs of recruiting and training new special education teachers. Whitaker (2000) recommends that mentoring is provided to all beginning special education teachers. Her recommendation is gaining momentum across the nation as research data supports the success of mentoring programs.

    The effectiveness of special education mentoring programs is encouraging. According to Bridges to Success (2003), the Oregon special education recruitment and retention project, districts which implemented strong teacher support systems achieved a five-year teacher retention rate of 70% to 80%. In addition, the Council for Exceptional Children (2000b) suggests that special education teachers who have the support of a mentor teacher are more likely to remain in the profession. Mason and White (2001) corroborate these findings as reported in their results that 91% of new special education teachers surveyed in a national mentoring induction project reported they were satisfied with their mentoring experience.

    Bey and Holmes (1990) describe three primary reasons for implementing mentoring programs:

    • To help beginning teachers cope with “dissatisfactions, disappointments, and difficulties” (p. 51) in the first year of teaching.
    • To combat high turnover and to reduce attrition.
    • To improve teacher performance.

    Designing an effective mentoring program to address the issues of new special education teachers is not as simple as finding the most experienced special education teachers and pairing them with the new teachers. Mentoring programs should be flexible enough to accommodate the needs of participants and should not simply specify mentor and mentee roles.

    School districts recognize that special education mentors support the mentee from their hire date, before students arrive for the first day of school, and throughout the first school year or longer. Without special education mentors, school districts risk high rates of teacher attrition and a never-ending cycle of hiring, training, and replacing special education teachers. Without a supportive mentor, the new special education teacher is also placed in a situation that can become frustrating and unfulfilling. Mentors, through their guidance, insight, and communication provide emotional and mental strength for the mentee. Having an effective mentor can make the difference between the mentee's first year of teaching being successful or exasperating. Mentoring can make the difference between the mentee returning to teach a second year or leaving special education all together. Reminisce to your first days of teaching. Who guided you through the ups and downs of organizing your classroom, preparing and meeting the students, and delivering effective instruction while managing behavior? If you are reading this book as a mentor, you understand how important effective mentoring is to the first-year special education teacher.

    As a special education mentor, your role is not to mold the mentees to walk, talk, think, and teach like you, but to listen to their frustrations, rejoice in their triumphs, provide insight when they have questions, and just be there when the mentees need a shoulder to lean on. The mentoring process will benefit you as you learn about yourself, share your teaching philosophy and beliefs, and examine your teaching actions that have become automatic over time but now need to be explained so the mentee can learn how you think and operate. One reward of mentoring a new special education teacher is that you experience growth in the mentee and in yourself.

    The activities in this book are designed to help individuals create and deliver effective mentoring programs for new special education teachers. The content has been field tested with experienced special education teachers serving as mentors to new special education teachers. Teachers have reported satisfaction with the activities and have shared vignettes of their experiences, which appear throughout the book. According to Lloyd, Wood, and Moreno (2000), a training program for special education mentors should consist of (a) the role of the mentor teacher; (b) tactics for working with adult peers; (c) ways to establish rapport and trust with the new teacher; and (d) strategies to provide both positive and constructive feedback. This book includes content that addresses these recommended components as well as timely additional information related to critical issues in mentoring new special education teachers as noted by Griffin, Winn, Otis-Wilborn, and Kilgore (2003). In their review of new teacher induction in special education, the following effective features of mentoring programs are described: frequent contact between mentor and mentee, pairing both mentors and mentees in special education, the nonevaluative role of the mentor, the mentor and mentee's understanding of the mentoring process, personal characteristics of the mentor, emotional support, and forms of support.

    Moreover, Whitaker (2001) identified five factors related to the challenges many new special education teachers encounter their first year of teaching. These factors include (1) an inability to transfer learning from theory into practice; (2) a lack of preparation for many demands of teaching; (3) reluctance to ask questions or seek help; (4) the difficulty of the teaching assignment and the inadequate resources provided; and (5) unrealistic expectations and the associated loss of a sense of efficacy. This book provides the most current information that also takes in hand Whitaker's findings on the challenges facing special education teachers.

    Chapter Descriptions

    The six chapters in this book address issues related to becoming a mentor, effective communication skills, adult learner characteristics, needs of new special education teachers, supports for new special education teachers, and elements of designing a mentoring program. Included in Resource A is a two-day workshop for training special education mentor teachers. Educators will also find figures, tables, and appendices throughout the book that provide specific activities and resources for mentors and protégés in a user-friendly format.

    Chapter 1 contains special education-specific information related to the concerns of new special education teachers. The needs of new special education teachers are discussed in relation to their diverse backgrounds. For example, some new special education teachers will be recent college graduates, experienced special education teachers new to a disability area or grade level, or out-of-field teachers starting a second career. Numerous mentor-mentee activities are located in this chapter.

    Supports for new special education teachers are discussed in Chapter 2. The uniqueness of special education is further identified by the inclusion of topics such as collaborating with general educators, making accommodations, Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and instructional strategies. In addition, the Council for Exceptional Children knowledge and teaching skills are linked to resources for mentors.

    Chapter 3 contains critical elements for designing effective special education mentoring programs. Principles from the Council for Exceptional Children Mentoring Induction project are discussed in relation to activities presented in the book, e-mentoring, action planning, evaluating progress, and fading support are additional topics discussed. A mentoring activities calendar is located in Chapter 3.

    Chapter 4 describes the process of identifying, recruiting, and selecting special education mentors. Educators will find a description of the skills needed by mentors, personality traits of mentors, and the roles and responsibilities of mentors. Also discussed are the benefits of mentoring a new special education teacher. Most chapters conclude with Web sites for mentors and “What if” questions for mentors to consider.

    Chapter 5 contains content related to effective communication skills. All relationships, including the mentor-mentee relationship, are built on effective communication. Nonverbal and verbal communication skills are discussed as well as teaming and problem solving skills. Activities for practicing communication skills are included in this chapter.

    Skills needed by mentors in the area of adult learning theory are discussed in Chapter 6. There are specific needs of adult learners that differ from school-age learners. Motivation and validating experiences shape the mentee's behavior. The importance of matching personalities is discussed as the mentors explore their personality styles and determine whether they match their mentee's personality.

    Throughout this book the recurring philosophy is that the mentor should assist, not assess, the mentee (Feiman-Nemser, 1996). The mentor and new special education teacher are building a relationship based on professionalism and trust that would be compromised by evaluative actions from the mentor. The content of this book will facilitate the development of this mentor-mentee relationship using current information accompanied with valuable activities and resources.


    Grateful thanks to the students and colleagues who willingly shared their mentoring stories for our book:

    Patricia WeberDeborah Brown
    Margaret HearndonKathy Huie
    Jacqueline MerrittElliott Lessen
    Nicki O'NeillCheryl Miranda
    Sylvia OstbyeDebby Brown
    Amy HolleyJennifer Thomas
    Lisa HeinzChris Stevens
    Mandy HortonLorenzo Diaz

    Corwin Press gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following reviewers:

    Joan Bacon

    Associate Professor, Special Education

    Augustana College

    Sioux Falls, SD

    Jo Bellanti

    Director, Special Education

    Shelby County Schools Bartlett, TN

    Margaret H. Blackwell, M. Ed.

    Executive Director

    Exceptional Education & Student Services

    Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

    Chapel Hill, NC

    C. Denise Buckingham Principal

    Shawswick Middle School

    Bedford, IN

    Colleen Klein-Ezell, Ph.D.

    College of Education

    Exceptional Education

    University of Central Florida, Brevard Campus

    Cocoa, FL

    Cindy L. Grainger

    Special Education Coordinator

    San Carlos USD # 20

    San Carlos, AZ

    Deborah E. Bordelon, Ph.D.

    Associate Professor and Assistant Chair

    Xavier University

    New Orleans, LA

    Wanda Routier

    Special Education Teacher

    Sugar Bush Elementary School

    New London, WI

    Laura Seese

    Director of Student Services

    Torrington Board of Education Torrington, CT

    Donna Tilley-Gregory

    Special Education Teacher

    Lee County Schools

    Sanford, NC

    Clarissa Willis

    Associate Director

    Center for Early Childhood Excellence

    East Tennessee State University

    Johnson City TN

    Lynn Cable

    Educational Specialist

    Special Education Services

    Lebanon School District

    Lebanon, TN

    Sandy Spangler Consultant/Staff Development

    Special Education Division

    Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency 8

    Fort Dodge, IA

    Wendy Ehrensberger

    Professor of Special Education Dowling College

    Oakdale, NY

    About the Authors

    Mary Lou Duffy is an associate professor of Exceptional Student Education at Florida Atlantic University. Her interest in mentoring stems from her work with preservice and inservice teachers in the local school districts in South Florida. She has had the opportunity to work with new teachers to help them learn practical ways to solve management and instructional problems. She is a participant in Florida's Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD) regional partnership, housed at Florida Atlantic University. She and Jim Forgan both have presented workshops and information sessions on mentoring and mentor training.

    Her other interests in special education include transition services for students and young adults with disabilities from school to work. She teaches courses both online and in traditional format on transition. Her experience with online courses has helped her become comfortable teaching using distance technologies.

    James W. Forgan, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Special Education at Florida Atlantic University where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses. He is the principal investigator for the Southeast Regional Comprehensive System of Personnel Development Professional Partnership, and he is on a United States Department of Education grant to increase the number of master's level minority special education teachers. He was a teacher of students with learning disabilities and behavior disorders at the elementary and middle school levels for six years in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools. His professional interests are in the areas of mentoring, social skills instruction, and assessment. He may be reached by e-mail at


    Bey, T.M., & Holmes, T.C. (1990). Mentoring: Developing successful new teachers. (Report No. SP032484). VA. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED322118)
    Boyer, L., & Mainzer, R.W. (2003). Who's teaching students with disabilities? A profile of characteristics, licensure status, and feelings of preparedness. Teaching Exceptional Children, 36(6), 8–11.
    Bridges to Success. (2003). Supporting early career special educators. Retrieved June 25, 2003, from Western Oregon University: Oregon Recruitment and Retention Project Web site:
    Council for Exceptional Children. (2000a). Bright futures for exceptional learners: An action agenda to achieve quality conditions for teaching and learning. Reston, VA: Author.
    Council for Exceptional Children. (2000b). What every special educator must know: The international standards for the preparation and certification of special education teachers. Reston, VA: Author.
    Feiman-Nesmer, S. (1996). Teacher mentoring: A critical review. (Report No. EDO-SP-95–2). Washington, DC: Office of Educational Research and Improvement. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED397060).
    Griffin, C.C., Winn, J.A., Otis-Wilborn, A., & Kilgore, K.L. (2003). New teacher induction in special education. Retrieved August 6, 2003, from
    Lloyd, S.R., Wood, T.A., & Moreno, G. (2000). What's a mentor to do?Teaching Exceptional Children, 33(1), 38–42.
    Mason, C., & White, M. (2001). The mentoring induction project: Supporting new teachers—hints for mentors and mentoring coordinators. Teaching Exceptional Children, 34(1), 80–81.
    McLeskey, J., Deutsch Smith, D., Tyler, N., & Saunders, S. (2002). The supply of and demand for special education teachers: A review of research regarding the nature of the chronic shortage of special education teachers. Retrieved July 19, 2003, from
    Washington Partners, LLC. (2002). Education report: Report of public policy issues in American education. Retrieved September 2, 2003, from
    Whitaker, S.D. (2000). Mentoring beginning special education teachers and the relationship to attrition. Exceptional Children, 66(4), 546–566.
    Whitaker, S.D. (2001). Supporting beginning special education teachers. Focus on Exceptional Children, 34(4), 1–18.
  • Resource A: Action Plans

    Table A.1 ESE mentee-mentor action plan template

    Example Mentee-Mentor Action Plans

    Table A.2 Example elementary ESE mentee-mentor action plan

    Table A.3 Example high school ESE mentee-mentor action plan

    Resource B: CEC Standards and Mentoring Resources

    The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is considered the learned society for the field of special education. The significance of this label is that teacher preparation programs across the United States, and indeed internationally, look to the CEC for guidance on the goals and directions for the field. The CEC developed and validated the core knowledge and skills needed by special education teachers by describing the roles and responsibilities of today's special education professionals. The most recent version of the CEC Knowledge and Standards incorporated the 10 Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) core principles into their most recent edition of the CEC Code of Ethics and Standards for Professional Practice for Special Education (5th ed.). This publication provides performance-based standards that can be adopted by teacher education programs to ensure quality graduates. For the purposes of this book we have excerpted the structure of the Code of Ethics and Standards to provide an overview of the resource. The book of ethics and standards is available in its entirety through the CEC Web site at

    CEC Professional Teaching Standards

    There are ten teaching standards central to the CEC professional standards. The ten teaching standards are the minimum knowledge, skills, and dispositions inherent in a quality special education program. Each standard is broken down into observable outcome measures. The outcome measures include general disposition, knowledge, and skill sets as well as those germane to specialty areas such as gifted, vision impaired, hearing impaired, and early childhood. Skill sets are also available for teachers assigned to programs that are “individualized general” curriculums (corresponds to most mild and moderate or high-incidence disability categories) and for those in “individualized independence” programs (corresponds to most severe or profound certification).

    Standard #1: Foundations

    Special educators understand their field as an evolving and changing discipline based on philosophies, evidence-based principles and theories, relevant laws and policies, diverse and historical points of view, and human issues that have historically influenced the education and treatment of individuals with exceptional needs, both in school and in society. Special educators understand how these influence professional practice, including assessment, instructional planning, implementation, and program evaluation. Special educators understand how issues of human diversity can impact families, cultures, and schools, and how these complex human issues can interact with issues in the delivery of special education services. They understand the relationships between special education organizations and the organizations and functions of schools, school systems, and other agencies. Special educators use this knowledge as a ground upon which to construct their own personal understandings and philosophies of special education.

    Standard #2: Development and Characteristics of Learners

    Special educators know and demonstrate respect for their students first as unique human beings. Special educators understand the similarities and differences in human development and the characteristics between and among individuals with and without exceptional learning needs. Moreover, special educators understand how exceptional conditions can interact with the domains of human development, and they use this knowledge to respond to the varying abilities and behaviors of individuals with exceptional learning needs. Special educators understand how the experiences of individuals with exceptional learning needs can impact families, as well as the individuals’ ability to learn, interact socially, and live as fulfilled, contributing members of the community.

    Standard #3: Individual Learning Differences

    Special educators understand the effects that an exceptional condition can have on an individual's learning in school and throughout life. Special educators understand that the beliefs, traditions, and values across and within cultures can affect relationships among students, their families, and the school community. Moreover, special educators are active and resourceful in seeking to understand how primary language, culture, and familial backgrounds interact with the individual's exceptional condition to impact the individual's academic and social abilities, attitudes, values, interests, and career options. The understanding of these learning differences and their possible interactions provides the foundation upon which special educators individualize instruction to provide meaningful and challenging learning for individuals with exceptional learning needs.

    Standard #4: Instructional Strategies

    Special educators possess a repertoire of evidence-based instructional strategies to individualize instruction for individuals with exceptional learning needs. Special educators select, adapt, and use these instructional strategies to promote positive learning results in general and special curricula and to appropriately modify learning environments for individuals with exceptional learning needs. They enhance the learning of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills of individuals with exceptional learning needs, and increase their self-awareness, self-management, self-control, self-reliance, and self-esteem. Moreover, special educators emphasize the development, maintenance, and generalization of knowledge and skills across environments, settings, and the life span.

    Standard #5: Learning Environments and Social Interactions

    Special educators actively create learning environments for individuals with exceptional learning needs that foster cultural understanding, safety and emotional well-being, positive social interactions, and active engagement of individuals with exceptional learning needs. In addition, special educators foster environments in which diversity is valued and individuals are taught to live harmoniously and productively in a culturally diverse world. Special educators shape environments to encourage the independence, self-motivation, self-direction, personal empowerment, and self-advocacy of individuals with exceptional learning needs. Special educators help their general education colleagues integrate individuals with exceptional learning needs in general education environments and engage them in meaningful learning activities and interactions. Special educators use direct motivational and instructional interventions for individuals with exceptional learning needs to teach them to respond effectively to current expectations. When necessary, special educators can safely intervene with individuals with exceptional learning needs in crisis. Special educators coordinate all these efforts and provide guidance and direction to paraeducators and others, such as classroom volunteers and tutors.

    Standard #6: Language

    Special educators understand typical and atypical language development and the ways in which exceptional conditions can interact with an individual's experience with and use of language. Special educators use individualized strategies to enhance language development and teach communication skills to individuals with exceptional learning needs. Special educators are familiar with augmentative, alternative, and assistive technologies to support and enhance communication of individuals with exceptional needs. Special educators match their communication methods to an individual's language proficiency and cultural and linguistic differences. Special educators provide effective language models, and they use communication strategies and resources to facilitate understanding of subject matter for individuals with exceptional learning needs whose primary language is not English.

    Standard #7: Instructional Planning

    Individualized decision making and instruction is at the center of special education practice. Special educators develop long-range individualized instructional plans anchored both in general and in special curricula. In addition, special educators systematically translate these individualized plans into carefully selected shorter-range goals and objectives, taking into consideration an individual's abilities and needs, the learning environment, and a myriad of cultural and linguistic factors. Individualized instructional plans emphasize explicit modeling and efficient guided practice to assure acquisition and fluency through maintenance and generalization. Understanding these factors, as well as understanding the implications of an individual's exceptional condition, guides the special educator's selection, adaptation, and creation of materials, and the use of powerful instructional variables. Instructional plans are modified based on ongoing analysis of the individual's learning progress. Moreover, special educators facilitate this instructional planning in a collaborative context including the individuals with exceptionalities, families, professional colleagues, and personnel from other agencies as appropriate. Special educators also develop a variety of individualized transition plans, such as transitions from preschool to elementary school and from secondary settings to a variety of postsecondary work and learning contexts. Special educators are comfortable using appropriate technologies to support instructional planning and individualized instruction.

    Standard #8: Assessment

    Assessment is integral to the decision making and teaching of special educators, and special educators use multiple types of assessment information for a variety of educational decisions. Special educators use the results of assessments to help identify exceptional learning needs and to develop and implement individualized instructional programs, as well as to adjust instruction in response to the ongoing learning progress. Special educators understand the legal policies and ethical principles of measurement and assessment related to referral, eligibility, program planning, instruction, and placement for individuals with exceptional learning needs, including those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Special educators understand measurement theory and practices for addressing issues of validity, reliability, norms, bias, and interpretation of assessment results. In addition, special educators understand the appropriate use and limitations of various types of assessments. Special educators collaborate with families and other colleagues to assure nonbiased, meaningful assessments and decision making. Special educators conduct formal and informal assessments of behavior, learning, achievement, and environments to design learning experiences that support the growth and development of individuals with exceptional learning needs. Special educators use assessment information to identify supports and adaptations required for individuals with exceptional learning needs to access the general curriculum and to participate in school system and statewide assessment programs. Special educators regularly monitor the progress of individuals with exceptional learning needs in general and special curricula. Special educators use appropriate technologies to support their assessments.

    Standard #9: Professional and Ethical Practice

    Special educators are guided by the profession's ethical and professional practice standards. Special educators practice in multiple roles and complex situations across wide age and developmental ranges. Their practice requires ongoing attention to legal matters along with serious professional and ethical considerations. Special educators engage in professional activities and participate in learning communities that benefit individuals with exceptional learning needs, their families, colleagues, and their own professional growth. Special educators view themselves as lifelong learners and regularly reflect on and adjust their practice. Special educators are aware of how their own and others’ attitudes, behaviors, and ways of communicating can influence their practice. Special educators understand that culture and language can interact with exceptionalities, and they are sensitive to the many aspects of diversity of individuals with exceptional learning needs and their families. Special educators actively plan and engage in activities that foster their professional growth and keep them current with evidence-based best practices. Special educators know their own limits of practice and practice within them.

    Standard #10: Collaboration

    Special educators routinely and effectively collaborate with families, other educators, related service providers, and personnel from community agencies in culturally responsive ways. This collaboration assures that the needs of exceptional learners are addressed throughout schooling. Moreover, special educators embrace their special role as advocates for individuals with exceptional learning needs. Special educators promote and advocate the learning and well-being of individuals with exceptional learning needs across a wide range of settings and a range of different learning experiences. Special educators are viewed as specialists by a myriad of people who actively seek their collaboration to effectively include and teach individuals with exceptional learning needs. Special educators are a resource to their colleagues in understanding the laws and policies relevant to individuals with exceptional learning needs. Special educators use collaboration to facilitate the successful transitions of individuals with exceptional learning needs across settings and services.

    The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) (2001) discusses support for all levels of teachers to ensure quality teachers. Although the legislation recommends career ladders and professional development, it leaves the door open to the states to develop other support programs that provide professional development and to increase retention rates. Many state boards of education have included mentoring programs as a way to retain and support teachers. Below is a chart from the Education Commission of the States (1999) containing the most recent practices in mentoring prior to NCLB from across the country. Sixteen states mandate and fund induction programs for all new teachers. These induction programs typically include mentoring programs. In addition, teachers who attain National Board Certification are required to mentor new teachers as part of maintaining their National Board Certification.

    State Support for New Teachers

    Table B.1 State support for new teachers

    Council for Exceptional Children. (2003). What every special educator must know: The international standards for the preparation and certification of special education teachers (
    5th ed.
    ). Arlington, VA: Author.
    Education Commission of the States. (1999). Beginning teacher mentoring programs. Retrieved on April 13, 2004, from
    National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. (n.d.). Renewal Standards. Retrieved on January 6, 2004, from
    U.S. Department of Education (2001). No Child Left Behind Act of2001. Washington, DC. Retrieved on July 29, 2004, from

    Resource C: Professional Resources

    This resource section contains reference information for special education journals, professional organizations, video and textbook resources, and assessments. Ordering information is provided, and, when available, a Web site that provides more information is included with the entry.

    Communication Disorders Quarterly

    Pro-Ed, Inc.

    8700 Shoal Creek Boulevard Austin, TX 78757

    Telephone: (800) 897-3202 Fax: (800) 397-7633

    Web site:

    Publishing schedule: Four times per year

    Exceptional Children

    Council for Exceptional Children

    1110 North Glebe Road, Suite 300 Arlington, VA 22201-5704

    Telephone: (703) 620-3660 Toll-free: (888) CEC-SPED

    Fax: (703) 264-9494

    Web site:

    Publishing schedule: Four times per year

    Focus on Exceptional Children

    Love Publishing Company

    9101 East Kenyon Avenue, Suite 2200 Denver, CO 80237

    Telephone: (303) 221-7333 Fax: (303) 221-7444

    Web site:

    Publishing schedule: Nine times per year

    FOCUS on Learning Problems in Mathematics

    Center for Teaching/Learning of Mathematics

    PO Box 3149 Framingham, MA 01701

    Telephone: (781) 235-7200

    Web site:

    Publishing schedule: Four times per year

    Intervention in School and Clinic

    Pro-Ed, Inc.

    8700 Shoal Creek Boulevard Austin, TX 78757

    Telephone: (800) 897-3202 Fax: (800) 397-7633

    Web site:

    Publishing schedule: Five times per year

    The Journal for Vocational Special Needs Education

    National Association of Vocational Education Special Needs Personnel

    Web site:

    Publishing schedule: Three times per year

    Journal of Learning Disabilities

    Pro-Ed, Inc.

    8700 Shoal Creek Boulevard Austin, TX 78757

    Telephone: (800) 897-3202 Fax: (800) 397-7633

    Web site:

    Publishing schedule: Six times per year

    Learning Disability Quarterly

    Council for Learning Disabilities

    PO Box 4014 Leesburg, VA 20177

    Telephone: (571) 258-1010 Fax: (571) 258-1011

    Web site:

    Publishing schedule: Four times per year

    Math Notebook

    Center for Teaching/Learning of Mathematics

    PO Box 3149 Framingham, MA 01701

    Telephone: (781) 235-7200 Web site:

    Publishing schedule: Monthly newsletter

    Preventing School Failure

    Heldref Publications

    1319 Eighteenth Street Northwest Washington, DC 20036

    Telephone: (202) 296-6267


    Web site:

    Publishing schedule: Four times per year

    Remedial and Special Education

    Pro-Ed, Inc.

    8700 Shoal Creek Boulevard Austin, TX 78757

    Telephone: (800) 897-3202 Fax: (800) 397-7633

    Web site:

    Publishing schedule: Six times per year

    Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities

    Association for Person With Severe Handicaps

    29 West Susquehanna Avenue, Suite 210 Baltimore, MD 21204

    Telephone: (410) 828-8274 Fax: (410) 828-6706

    Web site:

    Publishing schedule: Four times per year

    Teaching Exceptional Children

    Council for Exceptional Children

    1110 North Glebe Road, Suite 300 Arlington, VA 22201-5704

    Telephone: (703) 620-3660 Fax: (888) CEC-SPED

    Web site:

    Publishing schedule: Six times per year

    Professional Organizations
    American Association on Mental Retardation

    444 North Capitol Street Northwest, Suite 846

    Washington, DC 20001-1512

    Telephone: (202) 387-1968 Toll-free: (800) 424-3688

    Fax: (202) 387-2193

    Web site:

    Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

    1110 North Glebe Road, Suite 300 Arlington, VA 22201-5704

    Telephone: (703) 620-3660

    Web site:

    CEC has the following specialty divisions teachers can join:

    Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE)

    Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders (CCBD)

    Division for Research (CEC-DR)

    CEC Pioneers Division (CEC-PD)

    Council for Educational Diagnostic Services (CEDS)

    Division for Communicative Disabilities and Deafness (DCDD)

    Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT)

    Division on Developmental Disabilities (DDD)

    Division for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Exceptional Learners (DDEL)

    Division for Early Childhood (DEC)

    Division of International Special Education and Services (DISES)

    Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD)

    Division for Physical and Health Disabilities (DPHD)

    Division on Visual Impairments (DVI)

    The Association for the Gifted (TAG)

    Technology and Media Division (TAM)

    Teacher Education Division (TED)

    Council for Learning Disabilities

    PO Box 4014 Leesburg, VA 20177

    Telephone: (571) 258-1010 Fax: (571) 258-1011

    Web site:

    The International Dyslexia Association

    Chester Building, Suite 382

    8600 LaSalle Road Baltimore, MD 21286-2044

    Telephone: (410) 296-0232 Fax: (410) 321-5069

    Web site:

    National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE)

    310 Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast Washington, DC 20003

    Telephone: (202) 608-6310 Fax: (202) 608-6319

    Web site:

    National Center for Learning Disabilities

    381 Park Avenue South, Suite 1401 New York, NY 10016

    Telephone: (212) 545-7510 Toll-free: (888) 575-7373

    Fax: (212) 545-9665

    Web site:

    Classroom Management

    How Difficult Can This Be? The F.A.T. City Workshop

    PBS Videos (1974)

    Web site:

    Learning Disabilities and Discipline: When the Chips Are Down

    PBS Videos (1997)

    Web site:

    Winning at Teaching … Without Beating Your Kids

    Kids Are Worth It! (1990)

    Web site:

    IEPs and Self-Determination

    Self-Directed IEP

    Sopris West (1996)

    Web site:

    Whose Decision Is It Anyway?

    Program Development Associates (1997)

    Web site:


    Regular Lives

    PBS Videos (1996)

    Web site:

    Text Resources: Classroom Management

    Canter, L., & Canter, M. (1992). Lee Canter's assertive discipline: Positive behavior management for today's classroom. Santa Monica, CA: Lee Canter & Associates.

    ISBN: 0-939007-45-2

    Web site:

    Toll-free: (800) 262-4347

    Jones, F. H. (2000). Tools for teaching. Santa Cruz, CA: Fredric H. Jones & Associates.

    ISBN: 0-9650263-0-2

    Web site:

    Telephone: (831) 425-8222

    Sprick, R., Garrison, M., & Howard, L.(1998). CHAMPs: A proactive and positive approach to classroom management for grades K-9. Longmont, CO: Sopris West.

    ISBN: 1-57035-166-X

    Web site:

    Telephone: (303) 651-2829 Toll-free: (800) 547-6747

    Text Resources: First Year of Teaching

    Cohen, M. K., Gale, M., & Meyer, J. M. (1994). Survival Guide for the First-Year Special Education Teacher (Rev. ed.). Reston, VA: Council for Exceptional Children Publications.

    ISBN: 0-86586-256-7

    Web site:

    Toll-free: (888) CEC-SPED

    Wong, H. K., & Wong, R. T. (1988). The first days of school: How to be an effective teacher. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications.

    ISBN: 0-96293602-2

    Web site:

    Telephone: (650) 965-7896

    Assessment Resources

    Pierangelo, R., & Giuliani, G. (1998). Special educator's complete guide to 109 diagnostic tests. West Nyack, NY: Center for Applied Research in Education.

    A useful and comprehensive compendium for tests for special education can be found in Pierangelo & Giuliani's (1998) book entitled Special Educator's Complete Guide to 109 Diagnostic Tests. This resource describes the most frequently used assessments. The text can serve as a reference to check age appropriateness, validity and reliability information, and availability for the tests included.

    New special education teachers learn to use assessments in the trenches. Their preservice course work probably has prepared them to give some tests that are widely used, but district-specific tests may be foreign to them. They are often the recipients of tests and test scores completed by other professionals. New special educators need to interpret test data much more frequently than they need to collect formal test data. A supportive mentor should talk about when and why a specific test is given and how to decide which test to use for a specific assessment need. For example, special education teachers may be required to assess student reading skills at the year's end. Which test should they select for comprehension? Which for decoding? Does it matter? Can we use teacher-made tests? A mentor can guide the mentee through the decision making process by using a think aloud procedure to help the mentee understand why and how to select a specific test.

    Resource D: Mentor Workshop

    This mentor workshop can be offered in a two-day format or broken up over time. There are advantages to both formats. By having the training session for the mentors condensed into a two-day period, the critical information that is needed by the mentors is delivered early in the mentoring process. The mentors meet their mentees after they have all the foundational information. The advantage to providing ongoing support to mentors over the course of an entire semester or year is that the mentors not only get the needed information, but they also are able to meet periodically and discuss issues related to mentoring in their school or district. Program designers should consider the intended outcomes of the mentoring program and select the staff development model that best suits their goals and needs.

    Workshop Goals
    • To identify needs of beginning special education teachers.
    • To learn interpersonal communication skills needed to mentor.
    • To demonstrate, via role-playing, effective problem-solving techniques.
    • To identify four ways mentors can help new special education teachers transition to teaching.
    • To help the mentee clarify yearly goals by using an action plan.
    • To evaluate the program's success.
    Workshop Anticipated Outcomes
    • Increase the numbers of new special education teachers who remain in the school and district.
    • Support veteran special education teachers by recognizing quality teaching through mentoring
    • Socialize new special education teachers to their schools and strengthen their connection to their schools.
    • Name tags
    • Markers
    • Poster-size paper for group notes
    Welcome and Introductions

    Begin by saying, “Congratulations and thanks for being here. Mentoring takes time and commitment on the mentor's part.”

    Review the plan for the day's or days’ activities.

    Thinking Back to Being a New Teacher

    To be an effective mentor, you have to remember what it was like to be a new teacher. Start off the morning's activities by breaking the group into four smaller groups, and have them share an experience with their group that sticks in their mind about their first year of teaching. After about 30 minutes of small-group chatter, pull the groups back together and ask them to come up with a “completer” for the following prompt. Have the groups write their responses on a poster-sized sheet of paper.

    Prompt: One thing I wish I knew then that I know now about the first year of teaching is …

    Lead the discussion to include the following ideas:

    • You have to celebrate the small victories
    • You can't save all the kids this year, but you can save one
    • This job can't be done by yourself
    • Everyone develops survival skills
    • Everyone thinks they are just faking at teaching
    Teaching: The First Year

    Ellen Moir (1999) wrote about keeping in mind everything that new teachers go through to make the mentoring process more effective. Review what Moir described as the phases of a teacher's first year.

    The first phase is Anticipation Phase. This phase begins during student teaching, just as the assignments are finishing up, and the student can actually see herself as a teacher next year. This excitement revolves around making a commitment to making a difference. It includes romanticizing the role of the teacher. Idealism and excitement characterize the first few weeks of the school year.

    By October the new teacher has entered the second phase—the Survival Phase. During this phase the new teacher is overwhelmed with learning a million new things, some very big (like curriculum and management) and some very small (like bus duty and taking attendance). No matter how small, they all take on gargantuan proportions. One of the biggest concerns is developing curriculum. Veteran teachers have old lesson and unit plans from which to draw when developing teaching materials. The new teacher, however, is constantly making new things for every lesson. The new teacher is moving forward at a breakneck pace.

    The third phase of a teacher's first year is the Disillusionment Phase. After about eight weeks of high-intensity stress, the new teacher is plagued by thoughts of incompetence. He or she starts making comments like “It shouldn't be this hard. Maybe I'm not cut out for teaching.” This is underscored by having to conduct parent conferences and not knowing how to describe plans for the rest of the year. New special education teachers typically have difficulty planning for the rest of the week! Added to this is the toll the stress takes on the teacher's physical health. The only ray of hope during this phase is that winter break is near.

    The fourth phase is the Rejuvenation Phase. After break, beginning in January, the teacher comes back with an improved attitude. Like spring weather, the change is slow, but a positive attitude eventually makes an appearance. The rejuvenation phase is not a smooth one, some ups and downs still occur. When year-end testing arrives, the teacher again questions herself about her ability to be the best teacher for her students.

    The final phase is the Reflection Phase, and it begins during the last six weeks of school. The teacher begins to reflect on the year—not the small problems, rather the whole picture. She begins to make plans for the next year, especially in the areas of management, curriculum, and teaching strategies. This reflection phase allows the new special education teacher to return to the anticipation phase with which he or she began the year.

    Mentors will find it helpful to keep in mind the phases and needs within each phase when working with new teachers. As a veteran, you can tell they need help with management, but they may not be ready to hear that or ready to work on that skill. They have other things that seem more pressing, such as the policies and procedures for the school or developing lesson plans. The successful mentor gives the mentee what he or she needs in the time frame they can handle it.

    Making the Communication Connection

    After talking about how it was when we started teaching and what new teachers need when they start teaching, we need to begin building skills related to mentoring new teachers. The first skill to develop is effective communication techniques. The way people communicate is based on their personalities, their likes and dislikes, and their style of problem solving. By understanding how we communicate, we can better understand how to communicate with others. This process is very much like identifying learning styles or preferences. One vehicle for identifying your personality type is the Myers-Briggs questionnaire.

    There are two online locations for the Myers-Briggs. The first one is a long, seventy-question survey of attitudes. The second one is a four-question belief sorter. If we were going to do this to match mentors with mentees, then the seventy-question survey would be more accurate. However, we are doing this just to talk about styles and preferences. Therefore, the four-question sorter works for the purposes of this training.

    For the seventy-question version go to

    For the four-question version go to

    After completing the Myers-Briggs, talk about what the letters mean

    One resource is the Web document “Working out your Myers-Briggs type.” This document is available online at

    Table D.1 Possible symbols for the Create a Mentor activity
    Big HeartCares for members of the community, including students and their families, faculty, and staff
    Ready SmileHas a kind smile for all
    Big EarsListens actively, and reflects the best ideas back to the mentee
    Juggling BallsDesigns, implements, and evaluates instruction for her own students while helping with mentee needs
    On a PedestalSeen by others (teachers and administrators) as an effective teacher, good manager, and all-around excellent role model
    Flip-Top HeadIs open-minded to suggestions and new ideas from others
    Magnifying GlassHelps clarify problems—makes the options seem clearer
    Bag of TricksHas the ability to put her hands on many resources
    CheerleaderAlways there on the sidelines, cheering others on

    When finished describing the characteristics of each type, bring the discussion around to talking about communication style. Ask the mentors to consider what makes them comfortable or uncomfortable in communicating with others? Their mentees may or may not have the same style as they do. Therefore communication styles may or will vary. Reading nonverbal signs and listening to them is crucial to make the mentoring relationship work.

    Communication is the key to a positive mentoring relationship. We start communicating effectively when we have the same ideas or goals in mind. Let's start by getting the same definitions and descriptions. Have the group develop a picture of what a mentor and a mentee are. To do this, break the group again into subgroups of four members each. Give each group a poster-sized sheet, some markers, and the Symbols sheet (see Table D.1). (Optional materials could include glitter, colored paper, cloth, buttons, etc.)

    The Ideal Mentor

    Directions: Each group uses the provided materials to create the ideal mentor by incorporating the symbols into their pictures.

    Table D.1 shows some possible symbols for the Create a Mentor activity. (Groups can develop others that they need for the activity.)

    After about 30 minutes, have each group display and describe their “perfect mentor.” Finish the discussion by making comments about the role of the mentor being “a guide on the side—not a sage on the stage.” To be that guide, some practice with communication skills may be needed. The next activities are intended to help mentors practice communication skills.

    Conferencing Skills

    Carl Glickman (2002) has a handy book on leadership skills that help teachers succeed. Early in his book Leadership for Learning: How to Help Teachers Succeed, Glickman places the behaviors and techniques used by instructional leaders on a continuum that represents communication skills from nondirective through collaborative to directive. These skills are exactly what mentors need in their repertoire for working with new teachers. Glickman's behavior continuum follows. He uses the instructional leader (principal) as the key for each role, but for our purposes we have substituted mentor for instructional leader.

    Maximum Teacher Responsibility

    Listening: The mentor sits quietly, looks at the speaker, and nods her head to show understanding. Nodding and furthering responses (e.g., “ummmm,” etc.) also indicate listening.

    Clarifying: The mentor asks questions and restates to clarify the speaker's point of view: “Do you mean …?,” or “Would you explain this further?”

    Encouraging: The mentor provides acknowledgment responses that help the speaker continue to explain his or her positions: “OK, I think I understand. Tell me more. …”

    Reflecting: The mentor summarizes and paraphrases the speaker's message for verification of accuracy: “So the issue is. …”

    Presenting: The mentor gives his or her own ideas about the issue being discussed: “This is how I see it. …”

    Problem Solving: The mentor takes the initiative, usually after a preliminary discussion of the issue or problem solutions, in pressing all those involved to generate a list of possible solutions. This is usually done through statements such as “Let's stop and each write down what can be done,” “What ideas do you have to solve the problem?”

    Negotiating: The mentor moves the discussion from possible to probable solutions by discussing the consequences of each proposed action, exploring conflicts or priorities, and narrowing down choices with questions such as “Can we find a solution that will suit all the parties?”

    Directing: The mentor tells the mentee either what the choices are or what should be done. The mentor may need to explain the choices and the follow- up process by saying, “We need to proceed in this way. …”

    Standardizing: The leader sets the expected criteria and timeline or time frame for the decision to be implemented: “By next Monday we should see. …”

    Reinforcing: The mentor strengthens the directive and criteria to be met by describing the possible consequences. Possible consequences can be stated in a positive way by summarizing with the statement in the form of praise: “I know you can do it!” Consequences can also be negative: “If it's not done, we will lose the support of.…”

    Maximum Leader Responsibility

    The mentor will most often use the more collaborative behaviors on the continuum (i.e., listening through problem solving). Occasionally they will need to get down to directive behaviors to help a mentee figure out a plan. Be cautious! Being directive can disable a mentee. When mentors tell the mentee how to solve a problem or negotiate an outcome, they are effectively absolving the mentee from developing a solution of his or her own. Mentees are more likely to develop a solution by themselves if they are given a chance and a little support (not direction) from their mentors. It's the same as the idea in the Chinese proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” (Tripp, 19 70, p. 76). The following skills are the ones most frequently used by mentors in continuing their relationships with their mentees.

    Reflective Listening. Listening is a crucial skill for mentors. It is not an easy task to be a good listener because many things interfere with a person's ability to listen effectively. Rehearsing a response, daydreaming, stumbling over controversial words or ideas, filtering messages, and being distracted by the details are just a few. If a listener is constantly jumping for a chance to talk or respond, he or she may miss the intent of the message or the hidden message in the conversation. Likewise avoiding or fixating on hot topics or controversial words may mask the real message. Of all the distractions, the one that can cause the most problem is message filtering. This refers to the listener's ability to turn off the message because he or she either does not have a frame of reference for the conversation or has an overfamiliarity with the topic. For example, the speaker wants to talk about a topic that has already been covered extensively at a recent faculty meeting. You don't want to hear about it anymore—or talk about it anymore, so you tune out. That's filtering. Or you are talking with someone who is sharing information that you know nothing about—you tune out because you can't make the connection to what they are sharing. That's filtering. This is a troublesome distraction because, if the speakers perceive that you have tuned out, they also perceive that what they have to say doesn't have value for you. In a mentoring relationship, this does more harm than expected.

    Activity to Practice Effective Listening. Divide into groups of three. One member of the group is a speaker, one is a listener, and one is an observer. The speaker speaks to the listener for three minutes. The listener listens but does not give any feedback, verbal or nonverbal. The observer watches the pair during the monologue, attending to body language and individual behavior.

    Stop the groups at three minutes and ask for comments. How hard was this activity? What did you notice? Was this communication? Why? Do the activity again, switching roles within the groups. This time have the speaker speak for three minutes, but the listener is allowed to give nonverbal feedback. Stop the groups at three minutes, and ask for comments. How hard was this? What did you notice? Was this communication? Why?

    Cognitive Coaching

    Cognitive coaching attends to the thought processes used during planning, teaching, and reflecting phases. It is typically observed when mentees express their feelings about problems they are having. Usually they want the mentor to solve the problems for them. The role of the mentor is not necessarily to solve the problems, rather to help the mentee figure out a solution. Cognitive coaching is designed to be conducted between peers. It may be used by those in a hierarchical relationship, as long as the relationship includes mutual trust. However, cognitive coaching should not be used for evaluation purposes. Within the mentoring situation, the cognitive coaching model puts the mentee in charge of the coaching process, with the goal being change in teacher thinking, leading to a change in behavior or teaching pedagogy. The coach nonjudgmentally listens to the observations made by the mentee and asks questions that make the mentee reflect on his or her thinking.

    The power is in the questioning techniques, because the questions cause the mentee to reflect and think about his or her teaching and modify it for the future. The questioning techniques of cognitive coaching include open-ended questions, paraphrasing what the mentee said, and clarifying and probing questions to delve more deeply into the thinking of the new teacher. The questions are used as part of the conferencing, which precedes teaching and occurs after teaching.

    Self-Analysis of Communication Skills. Again, have the mentors break into groups and devise a way to analyze their communication skills. Have the groups consider how they will know if they are effectively employing communication skills. Possibilities include the development of checklists or scenarios to help them evaluate their own skills. They should include the following skills (and any others they wish to add):

    • Listens without interrupting
    • Accepts mentee's point of view
    • Identifies important points
    • Summarizes, paraphrases, and clarifies
    • Interprets nonverbal language to self and possibly to mentee
    • Pursues issues assertively
    • Reinforces mentee's efforts

    Bring the groups back together, and discuss how they chose to evaluate their own styles. Were there any commonalities, or did any new and interesting ideas arise?

    Problem Solving

    Working with another teacher places the mentor in a curious position. You should not be put in the position of evaluating the mentee, but you will certainly be asked by others how the new teacher is doing. Your relationship with your mentee is one built on trust and support. New teachers trust their mentors to help them with the “big stuff.” Sometimes the big stuff is what administrators feel all teachers should know how to do: Either know it or leave. Your job as a mentor is to help the mentee figure out how to do this job we call teaching. Your problem-solving skills are crucial to mentoring. The following scenarios are included to help mentors practice their communication and problem-solving skills.

    Problem-Solving Scenarios

    Have the mentors work either with each other or as a large group to discuss solutions for each scenario. Both communication and problem-solving skills will be practiced.

    Scenario #1 Your mentee is an out-of-field special education teacher. He comes from a sales background and does not have an education degree or experience in education. The needs assessment he has completed indicates that he needs help in understanding the paperwork, completing IEPs, keeping documentation, and understanding the psychological report. He has indicated that he has everything in the classroom under control, but he believes his students are unmotivated and stupid.

    Scenario #2 Your mentee calls you at home in tears. She has made a big mistake. Although she has spent the last four years completing her degree in education, she now realizes that she is “not cut out” for teaching. The demands of her job are too great. She is bringing home hours of work every evening and has no time for her life. She is totally stressed out and feels ready to break.

    Scenario #3 Your mentee is having problems with his administrator. He feels that he is being targeted and treated unfairly. He knows that he is having difficulty with behavior management, but much of this is due to having a class of twenty students in his high school cross-categorical special education class that meets in a classroom designed as a resource room.

    Scenario #4 Your mentee is not cooperating with you. You have tried to establish a relationship with him, however, you receive extreme resistance. He is older than you and from a culture that is very different from yours. He has his doctorate in psychology. You have heard from other sources that he doesn't think he needs a mentor, especially a woman!

    Scenario #5 You meet with your mentee. Although you feel he needs assistance in his classroom, he continues to bring the conversation back to his personal life. This is a second career for him. He left a lucrative business due to downsizing and thought that teaching would be a fulfilling opportunity.

    He is having difficulty making ends meet on a beginning teacher's salary. He has a big mortgage and a family to support. His wife refuses to work, insisting on staying home to homeschool their five children.

    Scenario #6 You have been working with your mentee for several months. He has identified some areas of concern, and you two have developed a plan of action to meet his needs. His principal has called you into his office to confide that he is thinking of letting him go. He wants your input.

    Scenario #7 Your mentee is the worst teacher you have ever seen and has no clue how bad he is. He has no regard for the students, using humiliation as a means of behavior control. He doesn't seem prepared for lessons and has large periods when he has nothing prepared at all except a video that is not related to the curriculum. The class is out of control, and it is painful for you to be there.

    Scenario #8 Your mentee is a very promising new teacher. She has spirit and drive. She cares for the students and seems to have a lot of great teaching skills. Her department chair has asked her to do things with which she doesn't feel comfortable. He has brought her IEPs to sign, when she hasn't been in attendance. He assures her that they do it like this all the time because they cannot get teachers released from their classes to attend meetings. She finds one student with an IEP that lapsed at the end of last year. He says there is no problem, they will just write a new one and backdate it. After all, the parent never shows anyway.

    Four Ways Mentors Can Support New Teachers

    In Susan Villani's book, Mentoring Programs for New Teachers (2002), she discusses four things mentors can do to support new teachers. These points are summarized in the following paragraphs:

    • Provide emotional support and encouragement. New teachers leave teaching for many reasons: some because they are underprepared, some because they were not aware of the realities of the world of teaching, others because they were not recruited specifically for their teaching abilities. In each of these cases, the necessary support and encouragement varies. Using the information about your own styles and skills, underscored in this training, will help you lend the emotional support a mentee needs. Your goal is to reinforce the worth and good intentions of each new special education teacher; that's encouragement and support of the highest quality!
    • Provide information about the daily workings of the school and the cultural norms of the school community. We talk about helping special education students understand the hidden curriculum to get by in school. We need to do the exact same thing with mentees. Tell them the little-known facts that might be helpful. The smallest tip is worth it. Where are the best parking spots? Can you wear jeans? Should they go to the pep rally? Helping them understand the hidden curriculum or the cultural norms helps them fit in and save face a “million” times a day.
    • Promote cultural proficiency regarding students and their families. This relates to the school and community culture and the one from which the new teacher comes. The mentor can help the mentee understand what the community expects from a teacher. Again these tips allow the mentee to work more effectively and to avoid embarrassing situations.
    • Cognitive coaching. We've already talked about cognitive coaching as a part of the mentor's skill repertoire. Villani also talks about how an effective cognitive coaching model in the induction year can lead to a very effective peer-coaching model for continued improvement over the teacher's career.
    Supports from Mentors

    Mentors provide differing levels of support to their mentees. The first level of support to consider is low-intensity supports. This type of support answers the following questions: to whom to go, where to go, when should I do this, and what is this. The mentee wants to know the basics. They are in “need to know” mode. This information is crucial to running a class and just keeping their heads above water. The second level of supports are high-intensity supports. Typically, high-intensity supports require the mentor and mentee to interact much more closely and intensely than just talking or sharing. High-intensity supports require modeling and think-alouds, observing and becoming an emotional sounding board. A mentor should look at ways to help the mentee with low-intensity supports before jumping to the high-intensity supports. The idea is that the lower-intensity supports allow the mentees to develop their own style of teaching rather than just doing what someone else does without thinking about why they are doing it. It's the “fish for a lifetime” idea again.

    Villani describes the process of beginning a mentoring relationship as similar to orienting someone to a new place. She uses the analogy of visiting Yellowstone National Park for the first time to study the reintroduction of wolves to the wild. First, you would want to know your way around the park and know who the other rangers are by name if possible. Then you would want to ask specific questions about where you could get the supplies you need for your work. You would also want to know about any rules the park has about how to work in the park and if all the rules are written down, or some are implied. The park ranger who is showing you around would probably want to know more about the project, but since you are in the beginning stages of the project, the information you might have would be sketchy. So the park ranger has to draw the information out and get at the center of your plan.

    What Do Mentors Do?

    In this activity the mentors identify what type or intensity of support they might need to give to a mentee in the situations listed below. This list comes from Kathleen Feeney Jonson's book, Being an Effective Mentor: How to Help Beginning Teachers Succeed (2002). Put the list on the overhead and have the groups of mentors decide what level of intensity would be needed in each instance. Some will be able to go either way (low or high); ask what might prompt a low-intensity response versus a high-intensity response.

    Classroom management

    Lesson planning

    Time management (how to get things done)

    Communicating with parents, other teachers, and so forth

    Administrative tasks (IEPs, open house, grade books, etc.)

    Being a Mentor

    The mentoring process begins by getting to know each other and learning what each person's role is in the relationship. The mentor needs to build trust with the mentee and the mentee needs to see the mentor as a resource, not a repair person. By taking the tour around Yellowstone, the mentee can get a sense of what the role of the mentor is, but this role needs constant reinforcing so that the mentee doesn't cast the mentor into a conflicting role. The action plan described later will help with the role-clarification aspect of the relationship.

    To build trust, the mentor must demonstrate openness, honesty, and candor. A sharing person is less likely to inflict harm. Certainly, it goes without saying that the sharing and candor should be professional and appropriate for the situation. The best way to develop trust is to listen with concern and empathy. We are likely as mentors to jump in and solve the problems new teachers present. However, just listening to and encouraging the mentee is more effective than supplying the answers (Jonson, 2002, p. 109).

    The next step is to develop a plan. This mentoring training includes a mentor-mentee action plan as a way to accomplish the following:

    • Clarify the roles and responsibilities of the mentor and mentee
    • Provide a focus and framework for mentor-mentee teamwork
    • Become an informative resource when shared with others

    The concept of action planning is very similar to IEP planning, so special education teachers should not have great difficulty in understanding how to use and develop these plans. The plans we are using come from Jonson's book on Being an Effective Mentor (pp. 144–147). The goals identified should be short-term, that is, they should be attainable within a few months. Plans should be reevaluated two or three times a year so the beginning teacher can gain a sense of attainment. Crossing off goals that were met is a powerful motivator and almost as good as stickers and stars! Keep in the back of your mind that the new teacher has more than a few staff development sessions to attend. This is particularly true of those who are not only new to teaching but also those teaching out-of-field. They will certainly have difficulty juggling all the required components of a new teacher program, and they may see mentoring as an added time waster if the action plan is not developed with consideration of the overall work demands.

    Action Planning

    The sample action plan included in this training packet is for elementary special education pairs. It may be helpful to break the mentors into pairs at similar grade levels and have them role-play mentor and mentee as they complete an action-planning form (see Tables D.2 and D.3).

    Table D.2 Action Plan form

    Table D.3 Sample action plan

    Fading Support

    One of the hardest things to identify in a mentor-mentee relationship is when to let go. The mentor has invested so much in the relationship; not just time, but emotional support, concern, and professional skills have been shared between the pair. The mentor has to observe objectively to know when the mentee is ready to take a leadership role in the relationship.

    The mentor has to determine when to allow the mentee is ready to take “flight,” sometimes identified as supportive release. In Herbert Kindler's book on Managing Disagreement Constructively (1988, p. 38), he describes supportive release as a conscious decision to support and encourage a person's initiative. The mentor may or may not agree with a mentee's decision, or plan of action, but will decide to unconditionally support the individual's efforts. Of course this would never occur if the mentor believed that harm or inappropriate outcomes would result from the mentee's action.

    The typical process for fading support is to fade one type of support at a time, or to change the type of support to a less-intensive style. In other words, the mentor will move from professional support to social support or lessen the amount of time spent on professional support.

    Ongoing Support

    All the possible preparation is of little value if we haven't addressed the mentor's concerns. Close the session with a discussion using open-ended statements. Be sure to listen to the mentors’ comments and fears. These statements will help us provide support to the mentors as they are working with their mentees.

    What Happens If?

    Have the mentors read and respond to the following open-ended statements. These can be done individually, but the mentors should be given a little time to think about their responses to the statements before sharing them with the group.

    What happens if …

    • My mentee leaves
    • The match doesn't work
    • I don't like this mentoring thing
    • This is the best thing ever
    Training Evaluation

    To evaluate the training content and effectiveness, we plan on evaluating the participants’ opinions at the end of the trainings and then again at the end of the school year. The session leader should hand out the evaluation form and have the participants respond on the sheet. Indicate that the responses will be kept confidential.

    Post-Training Evaluation

    At the first meeting with my mentee …

    Based on my personality, my biggest mentoring challenge will be …

    The best thing about mentoring for me will be …

    The most useful thing I learned from this training is …

    The ways I “exude” approachability are …

    I plan to deal with my frustrations as a mentor by …

    Glickman, C.D. (2002). Leadership for learning: How to help teachers succeed. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
    Jonson, K.F. (2002). Being an effective mentor: How to help beginning teachers succeed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
    Kindler, H.S. (1988). Managing disagreement constructively: Conflict management in organizations. Los Altos, CA: Crisp Publications.
    Moir, E. (1999). The stages of a teacher's first year. In M.Scherer (Ed.), A better beginning: Supporting and mentoring new teachers. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
    Tripp, R.T. (Ed.). (1970). The International Thesaurus of Quotations. New York: Perennial Library.
    Villani, S. (2002). Mentoring programs for new teachers: Models of induction and support (pp. 9–13). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

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