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New York Study on Mentoring


A lot has been said over the years on the need for mentoring new teachers, and whenever I am among educators, I almost always hear at least one young teacher speak up for it.

Now, a study of the effects of mentoring on New York teachers, which appears this month in the National Bureau of Economic Research, finds that mentoring can improve retention when the mentor has prior experience in the school. In other words, when the mentor has school-specific knowledge.

Jonah E. Rockoff, an assistant professor of economics and finance at Columbia University, looked closely at a mentoring program the city put in place in 2004. He finds that student achievement in math and reading was higher when their teachers received more hours of mentoring.

However, he also found that a mentor whose subject-matter expertise matches that of the teacher did not necessarily produce better student outcomes.


Firstly, look at this issue in the context of your previous posts. What sort of mentroing would happen in a school divided between labor loyalists, "free riders" who took the Green contract, and the virtual scabs who camapigned for it?

Michelle Rhee’s proposal for dual contracts has split teachers along generational lines.

A thirty year old teacher told The Washington Post that she supported Rhee because, “I'm secure with my teaching practices and my pedagogy ..."I know that even if the growth of my students was questioned, I feel I would have enough data and anecdotal data to back it up." It took just two sentences for the young teacher to use the word "I" four times, and the word "my" three times.

The issue, however, is not her performance. The issue is divide and conquer. Maybe she can accept her “pieces of silver” and not get screwed. But shift from “me” to “we,”and think of other good teachers would have their careers destroyed arbitrarily. If Rhee wanted a fair process, why wouldn’t she allow for a “neutral party” to play a role in due process, as proposed by the reformist union president?

A pro-Rhee blog post showed that it is not only young teachers who focus on “What’s in it for me?” “With my current administration I would have no problem being on probation for a year. Then six more years and I retire.”

We can not just blame young teachers, or the schools that failed to teach them economic and labor history. Back in the day, the ethics of a corporate intrusion into workers’ deliberation were debated around the dinner table, in Sunday School, and in Union Halls.

Teachers must not forget sorry story of the de-industrialization of America. The dual contract proposal is just the same “bait and switch” as in the 70s when workers in the South sacrificed collective bargaining rights, undercutting Northern unions’ wages. Now factories are shuttered all over America, driving down wages, and contributing to the cycle of poverty that devastates inner city schools. Rhee is just a front woman for the de-professionalization of teaching and broader attack on the remaining unions.

It is ridiculous to believe that the big bucks would last for more than a few years, or that school children could somehow benefit. As in previous of episodes of wedge politics, the schools would be ripped apart by bitter labor strife. Before teachers accept data-driven accountability in return for money, they should put a price tag on shortening their life due to the additional stress. The human body could not stand the old piece-work system, and now Rhee wants Taylorism pumped by steroids I do not want teachers to only consider the effects of a greed-driven contract on the health and contentment of adults. How much is your conscience worth? Take Rhee’s offer, and who will speak for the children? Turn your economic future over to arbitrary power, and who will dare to voice their consciences?

I am interested in how research on mentoring may (or may not) be applicable to co-teaching. I have done some delving into studies on mentoring, and naturally developing relationships tend to have better outcomes than top-down doctated, contrived relationships. How might this impact inclusion models, in which special and general educators co-teach? I'm curious.

should be "top-down dictated"

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