B Mentoring - A Professional Partnership

All teachers are more effective when they can learn from and are supported by a stronger community of colleagues. The Board of Regents adopted new regulations that require the first year of teaching to be a mentored experience beginning February 2, 2004. PMCT and the Patchogue-Medford School District are working together to offer Mentoring Programs to provide staff development during the critical first year of teaching when beginning teachers face new challenges every day and to foster a collegiality among all teaching professionals. PMCT hosted a substantive one-day introductory workshop that all participants found inspiring and very worthwhile. All agreed it was an excellent introduction to the program.

At Patchogue-Medford High School, this year, eight teachers participated as teams in a NYSUT endorsed Mentoring Program. As the year draws to a close, each participant was asked to assess the experience.

In the English department, veteran teacher Linda Landman was teamed with novice Kristy Reinert. Both found the program beneficial. "It is basically a good program," said Mrs. Landman, adding, "Every new teacher should have a mentor. A first year teacher needs to have questions answered." The problem encountered by this team was the need to have scheduled time together. During the first half of the year, they shared an every-other-day mutual prep period; during the second semester, no provision was made for shared preparation periods.

"I wouldn’t do without it! It is the best thing that happened, " said first year teacher Kristy Reinert, adding that the mentoring partnership was helpful in a myriad of ways. Of Mrs. Landman, she said, " This was beyond a positive experience. She has been a true mentor."

In the math department, veteran teacher Donna Wayne mentored Gina Taglienti during her first year at Patchogue-Medford. Donna found it a "very enjoyable experience." She would definitely do it again, finding the experience "beneficial to both." Donna observed that scheduled time together daily is essential. Although members of the math department were helpful in filling in gaps, she would have liked more time together.

Gina Taglienti found the mentoring program "wonderful." She described it as a lot of help; she was "shown the ropes" and assisted with curriculum. The mutual observation and feedback was useful. Gina explained ,"Any questions- I can always go to her." Of particular value were the weekly "touch base" and the mutual observations.

Chris Paino, high school math teacher, observed that mentoring produced "a real improvement in skills, especially in content." Chris, who is a veteran teacher, found the mentor system much more effective than the "buddy" system which has been used in previous years.

Having a good relationship with the mentor is an important component of the program and Darlene Chichester found herself very much at ease with Chris. She explained that she was able to ask questions that she would not have been comfortable asking others.

In the Science Department, Rich Yngstrom mentored Amy Newhoff. A common prep room enabled them to observe one another during free periods. Rich commented, "New teachers must have a nonconfrontational peer partner to help them through the first year. They will not go to administration if they feel a problem will reveal weakness on their part."

All the participants agree that the program was very worthwhile and all participants had profited from the experience. All agreed that there must be scheduled time to work together, the more, the better.