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New teachers could have better access to mentorship opportunities

House Photography file photo
House Photography file photo

One reason 40% of teachers leave the profession within their first five years may be a lack of support from colleagues.

Sponsored by Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City), HF561 aims to improve teacher retention and development through expanded access to mentorship opportunities. 

“By establishing teacher mentoring programs … novice teachers are given a strong start at the beginning of their careers, and experienced classroom teachers serving as mentors see recognition and incentives, including the satisfaction of helping a new teacher do better,” Urdahl said.

The bill was approved 16-1 by the House Education Policy Committee Monday. It now heads to the House Education Finance Committee. The companion, SF784, awaits action by the Senate Education Finance and Policy Committee. Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes) is the sponsor.

House Education Policy Committee approves HF561 02/15/20

The proposal would require school districts to adopt mentor programs. This is a “small but mighty shift” that would provide a solution to the current conflict between statute and rule, according to Matt Shaver, policy director for EdAllies, a nonprofit organization that works to ensure all Minnesotans have access to quality education.

In 2017, the state’s teacher licensing board passed a rule that requires all teachers to participate in the employing district or charter school’s mentorship program in order to maintain their licensure. However, neither statute nor rule requires a district or charter school to have a program.

“With teachers currently required to participate in mentorship and schools only encouraged to provide it, many teachers can find themselves unable to renew their licenses through no fault of their own,” Shaver said.

The bill would also require the Department of Education to collaborate with organizations to develop a teacher mentorship model and make resources for implementing it available to districts and charter schools. Schools could either adopt the department model or implement their own.

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