Giving Every Student in Oregon the Best of Ourselves: The Oregon Mentoring Project

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Giving Every Student in Oregon the Best of Ourselves: The Oregon Mentoring Project

Posted on May 5, 2014

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Teaching Research Institute’s Center on Educator Preparation & Effectiveness (TRI-CEPE) has been working closely with the Oregon Department of Education to ensure the success of beginning teachers and school administrators through the Oregon Mentoring Project. TRI/CEPE has the responsibility of evaluating the statewide mentoring program to identify best practices and encourage implementation. Learn about the program and hear from some of the teachers, administrators, mentors, and TRI/CEPE staff who are working hard to improve the success rate for all Oregon students by improving the effectiveness of Oregon Educators.

By Carol Dennis

You walk into the classroom for your first day of prep – not just this school year, but ever. You are finally a teacher – a career you have dreamed about since you were 10 years old. As you step through the door you notice the bulletin boards and walls are empty. This is almost a surprise, since every classroom you have ever been in was covered with posters and artwork and positive messages. But this is YOUR classroom and YOU get to choose what goes up.

As you look around you imagine the students – talking, laughing, raising their hands eager to answer questions, one very quiet in the back row. You can almost hear them, even though they are a week away – a week filled with anticipation waiting for the first day of school, for them and for you.

You have worked toward this moment for years – in every class you took at the university – absorbing every detail about being an effective teacher. You arrive with a solid foundation that will serve you well – or so you think.

It feels like only hours, not days that have passed, but there is the morning bell and the imagined voices become real. Your classroom fills with students, all wondering who the person is standing at the front of the room. And in that moment, you find yourself wondering the same thing. All your planning, all those classes seem just out of reach when looking into the eyes of your students – YOUR students, with their future in your hands.

Then, in the back of the room, a familiar face, smiling, nodding, and reminding you that you have what it takes. This person is your mentor and in this moment, you couldn’t be happier to see her.

There is an assumption that beginning teachers come out of college knowing all they need to know to be effective teachers, and that beginning school administrators have been in education long enough to instinctively know how to be a principal or superintendent. But there is so much more to teaching than creating a lesson plan and lecturing from the front of the classroom, and so much more to being an administrator than hiring teachers and deciding when everyone has lunch.

For many years, we have expected beginning teachers to walk into our children’s classrooms and beginning administrators to walk into our children’s schools without the essential support and supervision needed to ensure their success, and therefore the success of the students in their charge. But in the past few years, Oregonians envisioned a different future and did something about making it happen. A beginning teacher and beginning administrator mentoring program was created. Now an important part of the 40/40/20 plan, the mentoring program is building a network of support for beginning teachers and administrators across the state.


40/40/20 Graph

And student outcomes are always at the center of this work.

“When it comes to student performance on reading and math tests, a teacher is estimated to have two to three times the impact of any other school factor…” Rand Corporation - Teachers Matter: Understanding Teachers' Impact on Student Achievement

“Students taught by an effective teacher score 50% higher than students taught by an ineffective teacher.” – Linda Darling-Hammond – The Brookings Institute

Every child deserves the best chance to succeed every year of their schooling.

You can’t just call something a mentoring program, ask a few teachers and administrators to meet for coffee or check in with each other from time to time and expect successful outcomes. Effective mentoring takes planning, training, careful implementation – and an evaluation process that can measure the successes and identify where changes need to be made. This is where Teaching Research Institute’s Center on Educator Preparation and Effectiveness comes in.

Nationally, nearly 50% of all new teachers leave the profession in 3 to 5 years.

According to the calculations done by ECONorthwest, teacher turnover in Oregon costs school districts between $40 and $60 million dollars per year (based on 2010 average salaries).

Over 45% of the teachers in the Oregon Mentoring Project in 2012 indicated that mentoring influenced their decision to stay in their teaching profession.

“I was seriously considering leaving the profession; however my mentor helped me through the difficult time.” (Beginning Teacher - 2012)


Betsy Hammond of noted that, “[a]fter six years of anemic hiring, Oregon school districts will extend job offers to an estimated 2,000 teachers this year – a turnaround that has energized those doing the hiring as well as those securing jobs.”

An effective mentoring program in Oregon may be the key to keeping these new teachers and administrators in the field, creating and maintaining an effective educator workforce and realizing our educational goals. A thorough, scientific evaluation of the Oregon Beginning Teachers and Beginning Administrators Mentoring Project is the key to ensuring the program is working well.

Giving beginning teachers and administrators every opportunity to be successful gives our students every opportunity to be successful!


Kalimba – by Mr. Scruff – ninja tuna

Maid with the Flaxen Hair – by Debussy (Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra)

Sleep Away – by Robert R. Acri


Great article and videos about the importance of mentoring for beginning educators! Congratulations and kudos to all involved in this endeavor. Even pre-service teachers who do excellent work in their college courses and student teaching are often overwhelmed when they are suddenly responsible for the education of 25-30 young students. Most of those who persevere and stay in teaching improve and become more effective over the years, but they can reach that level of effectiveness so much more quickly with the help of an experienced and knowledgeable mentor.

Bonnie Morihara

Posted May 12, 2014 by Bonnie Morihara

Good article. I think the mentoring has to start and continue from preservice through beginning teaching. This is a good reminder for higher education faculty working with students who will be our future teaching workforce.

Patricia  Blasco

Posted Jul 28, 2014 by Patricia Blasco

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