Tips & tools for CTE mentorship success

Mentorship experiences are critical to the future of career and technical education (CTE). Organizations can make a positive difference in the retention of quality practitioners through cultivating and prioritizing mentorship program.ming. The impact of structure, culture and buy-in from stakeholders can have far-reaching implications — thus improving teacher experiences and positively impacting student achievement. In their book on The Adult Learner, Knowles, Holton and Swanson contend that adult learners should be active participants in creating and executing their learning experiences.

Mentorship program success is dependent on the engagement of its participants.

Don’t underutilize talent with the potential to effect change. Recruit talented teachers of CTE to participate in mentor-ship programs, and make sure they know exactly what’s expected of them. There must be structure to the mentorship experience. Secondly, be intentional when pairing mentors and mentees. This can be done using a survey or another discretionary process to gauge participants’ strengths and areas of growth. Jane Briggs (2008) found that a thoughtful pairing of mentors and mentees is a significant factor in the success of mentorship experiences among stakeholders.

When mentorship programs are launched during onboarding and/or pre.service processes, not only will mentees benefit from having a familiar face to approach when questions arise, but mentors offer first impressions of support and may grow their own networks. As new teachers of CTE come to the classroom from different pathways, it can be challenging to learn and understand curricula, learning management systems, and organizational culture. McAdoo (2018) found that CTE teachers’ perceptions of professional development needs varied based on experience level, school type and enrollment. Mentorship programs allow organizations to easily provide customized, one-on-one professional development.

Maximize the impact of mentorship.

The organization’s role is to facilitate the infrastructure of mentorship engagement. Assessments conducted to measure men-tor–mentee engagement throughout the experience can help all stakeholders reflect on programmatic successes and revise activities as necessary (Dessinger, Moseley & Van Tiem, 2012). Mentorship program activities may include meeting during standard planning times (or flexibly as participants require), webinars, book studies, local industry tours, and more.

Mentors are essential to fostering success for new teachers of CTE subjects. To retain qualified instructors, they need to see their place and potential within an organization. Mentors provide mentees with individualized support regarding growth. And this advice should be given through the lens of organizational, curricular and professional understanding.

Mentors are a vital component of impacting the retention of practitioners that need support in understanding. But, for mentors to use their influence and expertise to assist and guide mentees, they also require support. Grant mentors should access to relationship-building resources. And give them dedicated planning time to prepare for mentor–mentee experiences. Further, mentors should be active participants in the program’s assessment and revision processes.

Successful mentors will play an active and engaged role from the outset. Mentors should speak and introduce themselves to mentees during the onboarding process. When this happens, and participants listen actively — getting to know each other — they can customize and personalize their future experiences.

Offer feedback that is fluid, considerate & respectful to all participants.

The goal of successful mentorship programs is to cultivate and sustain interest among new teachers of career and technical education. Mentees come in many forms: college graduates entering the workforce for the first time; individuals seeking second-career opportunities; educators transitioning to CTE from other content areas; or individuals from industry. Regardless of the entry point, mentees should feel empowered to provide honest and authentic feedback regarding their mentorship experiences.

Quality mentorship programs establish spaces where voices and perspectives can be heard without judgment, and successful mentorship programs will foster this type of communication. Transformational growth has the potential to boost performance outcomes beyond expectations. For this to occur, design thoughtful mentorship programs.

Key takeaways:

  • Develop a mentorship organizational structure.
  • Be intentional when selecting and matching mentors with mentees.
  • Find and/or develop measurement tools to assess program performance.
  • Allow mentors early access to onboarding experiences with mentees.
  • Provide dedicated mentorship engagement time for mentors and mentees.
  • Develop protocols that promote clear and consistent feedback.

Charlie E. McAdoo II, Ed.D., is a 20-year veteran teacher in the City Schools of Decatur, Georgia. in Decatur, Georgia. Under the guidance of CTE Director Duane Sprull, he serves as an active member of the Decatur High School Career Academy’s CTE advisory board and as department chair of Beacon Hill Middle School’s CTE department. McAdoo completed his undergraduate degree at Clark Atlanta University, his graduate degree from the University of West Georgia, and his doctorate from Valdosta State University.

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