2017 Hiring Policy
The state should require effective induction for all new teachers, with special emphasis on teachers in high-need schools. This goal was reorganized and not graded in 2017.
Mentoring for New Teachers: Tennessee does not require a mentoring program or any other induction support for its new teachers. State regulations requiring mentoring for all new teachers were repealed.
Mentor Selection Criteria: Tennessee does not address this in state policy.
Ensure that a high-quality mentoring experience is available to all new teachers, especially those in low-performing schools.
Tennessee should ensure that all new teachers—especially teachers in low-performing schools—receive mentoring support, particularly in the first critical weeks of school.
Set more specific parameters.
To ensure that all teachers receive high-quality mentoring, the state should specify how long the program lasts for a new teacher, set guidelines on the frequency and amount of time mentors and new teachers should meet, and specify a method of performance evaluation. The state should also set a timeline by which mentors are assigned to new teachers, ideally soon after the commencing of teaching,
Select high-quality mentors.
While still leaving districts with flexibility, Tennessee should articulate minimum guidelines for the selection of high-quality mentors. It is particularly important that the mentors themselves are effective teachers. Teachers without evidence of effectiveness should not be eligible to serve as mentors.
Tennessee provided that it does articulate requirements for the selection of high quality mentors.
This goal analyzes mentorship and induction programs for new teachers who are employed as the teacher of record, rather than requirements for mentors who supervise teacher candidates completing their clinical practice requirements. For information about cooperating teachers who supervise student teachers see 1-E: Clinical Practice/Student Teaching.
Too many new teachers are left to "sink or swim" when they begin teaching, leaving most new teachers overwhelmed and under-supported at the outset of their teaching careers. Although differences in preparation programs and routes to the classroom do affect readiness, even teachers from the most rigorous programs need support once they take on the myriad responsibilities of their own classroom. A survival-of-the-fittest mentality prevails in many schools; figuring out how to successfully negotiate unfamiliar curricula, discipline and management issues, and labyrinthine school and district procedures is considered a rite of passage. However, new teacher frustrations are not limited to low performers. Many talented new teachers become disillusioned early by the lack of support they receive, and, particularly in our most high-needs schools, it is often the most talented teachers who start to explore other career options.
Vague requirements simply to provide mentoring are insufficient. Although many states recognize the need to provide mentoring to new teachers, state policies merely indicating that mentoring should occur will not ensure that districts provide new teachers with quality mentoring experiences. While allowing flexibility for districts to develop and implement programs in line with local priorities and resources, states also should articulate the minimum requirements for these programs in terms of the frequency and duration of mentoring and the qualifications of those serving as mentors.