You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Commentary: Help Texas schools flourish by funding teacher mentorships


As the Texas lawmakers consider legislation aimed at improving the quality of teacher preparation in our state, one of the most important things they can do is support a bill filed by state Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) that would help more school districts create mentoring programs for new teachers.

House Bill 816 would help establish more high-quality, research-based mentoring and induction programs in Texas benefiting teachers and students. The bill would provide funds to create mentoring programs in which districts provide training and ongoing support for mentors, afford time for meetings and select mentors with superior ratings who have taught for at least three years.

I am a proud product of Texas public schools. My 25-year teaching experience in this state has made clear that the stakes couldn’t be higher for our students.

MORE VIEWPOINTS: The Statesman’s editorial writers and columnists tackle local and national issues.

My first year of teaching would not have been successful without my mentor, Lucille, who was naturally gifted at coaching. Lucille knew when to listen and when to push my thinking about my teaching practice. She told me that “bad teachers and mediocre teachers don’t worry if they are doing a good enough job or wonder how to be a better teacher. As long as you are reflecting, you are growing.”

While my own mentoring experience was a success, not every teacher is as lucky. In fact, when I became a mentor my second year of teaching — and for many years after that — I realized that there were skills that I lacked. Though being an effective teacher is a solid foundation for being a mentor, it does not provide all the skills an adviser needs to help a novice teacher grow as an educator.

In my seventh year of teaching, I was invited to join a then-new program called the Texas Beginning Educator Support System (TxBESS). The invitation came with training, time away from teaching responsibilities and a stipend. The program transformed the way I mentored. I learned new techniques in coaching beginning teachers. We had time to observe each other and reflect together on our lessons. I saw an immediate difference in the success of the teachers I mentored. Along the way, my own teaching improved as well.

When the TxBESS program lost funding in 2002, it was a great loss to schools and to me personally. As I dug deeper, I found that comprehensive mentoring and induction programs help improve student achievement, increase teacher retention, cut the high cost of teacher turnover and create a safety net for students by addressing inequities in teacher distribution. Mentoring also addresses the need to create career pathways for effective teachers who want to lead without leaving the classroom.

BE THE FIRST TO KNOW: When the Legislature is in session, get under the dome with insight. Click to sign up.

I’m an aunt to three elementary-aged Texas students and have a classroom of fourth-graders. When I think about my hopes for them and the teachers who will teach them in future years, I want teachers who are both highly effective and well-supported. The support of the right mentor is especially important for teachers who are new to profession.

While some Texas teachers have access to high-quality mentoring, there is no state mandate for districts to provide research-based mentoring programs like TxBESS. Despite a multiyear external evaluation of TxBESS by the Charles A. Dana Center that showed the success of high-quality mentoring for Texas teachers, the state has not chosen to invest in mentoring new teachers.

HB 816 has passed the House Public Education Committee unanimously; the Calendars Committee has placed it on the General State Calendar. The legislative budget board’s fiscal note on the bill estimates a cost of $1.5 million a year. The cost is reasonable and the benefits are far-reaching. With this legislation in place, more teachers can have mentors like Lucille – and go on to make a difference in students’ lives for many years to come.

Hoover is a fourth-grade teacher at Leander ISD’s Reed Elementary School and a member of the Teach Plus Texas Teacher Advisory Board.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Two Views: Abbott’s pick-up sticks play politics with a special session
Two Views: Abbott’s pick-up sticks play politics with a special session

With apologies to Joyce Kilmer, the American poet and hero killed in World War I, we might begin a look at the upcoming special session of the Texas Legislature by rudely rewriting a bit of Kilmer’s most famous poem: Laws are made by fools like thee But only God can make a tree. Only the governor can set agenda items for a special session &mdash...
Two Views: Special session offers opportunity for conservative reforms
Two Views: Special session offers opportunity for conservative reforms

There’s a scene in the 1984 film, “Romancing the Stone,” when Kathleen Turner’s character, whose sister has been kidnapped and held for ransom until she delivers a treasure map, says to her hero, “That map is my sister’s life.” Jack T. Colton, played by Michael Douglas, replies, “Like hell it is. Whatever&rsquo...
Letters to the editor: June 26, 2017
Letters to the editor: June 26, 2017

Re: June 20 article, “Already pinched, Texas parks not getting promised state money.” Why am I not surprised! Texas lawmakers have once again siphoned off these state park funds for other purposes, including balancing the state budget. Enough already! The state parks have millions of dollars of backlogged maintenance of parks, facilities...
Commentary: On school bonds, it’s time to go in for all of Austin
Commentary: On school bonds, it’s time to go in for all of Austin

When your school district includes 130 buildings with an average age of 46 years, major renovations will be in order. It is time for Austin to go all in for a school bond that declares our commitment to education across the whole city. The current proposed bond package serves some areas well, neglects others, and doesn’t do enough to address...
Opinion: Can we see past our own cultural blind spots?

Michigan is set to become the 26th state to join the federal government in criminalizing female genital mutilation, even as two Detroit area doctors and one of their wives await trial for inflicting the procedure on a number of young girls. FGM, which is common in some parts of Africa and the Middle East, involves using a razor to remove all or part...
More Stories