AACTE presentation - Networking and Learning Among New Teachers
10:30–11:45 a.m., Concourse B, Concourse Level
Electronically Networking to Develop Accomplished Professional Teachers (ENDAPT)
Christopher Ryan Gareis and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, College of William and Mary
(Paper under review)

Teaching has been described as the profession that eats its young. In an effort to address the support and growth of novice teachers, the College of William and Mary and the Teacher Leaders Network have partnered to bring together novice teachers and teacher leaders in an online mentoring community.

Current research reveals that up to one-half of new teachers leave the profession within five years and that the most important variable in the academic achievement of students is the quality of their teachers. Clearly, novice teacher retention and development are priorities. More intensive mentoring of novice teachers is increasingly seen as a way to address these needs. Teachers in quality mentoring programs tend to be better able to serve their students, more satisfied in their professional roles, and more likely to continue in the profession.

Online professional communities open the door to promising innovations in mentoring. In 2005, the College of William and Mary and the Teacher Leaders Network piloted an online mentoring project that facilitates asynchronous dialogue among novice K-12 teachers and a national pool of accomplished teacher leaders in a group-based mentoring environment. The project aims to support teacher development, foster qualities of teacher leadership, and improve teacher retention among novice teachers. This paper reports findings from the first year of implementation, using surveys of novice teachers and a content analysis of transcripts from online conversations.

Participants who attended this session gained an understanding of a promising model for online group mentoring, as well as other variations of electronic and face-to-face mentoring options. Participants will appreciate the need for mentoring to (1) improve the professional practice of novice teachers, (2) reduce attrition among novice teachers, and (3) contribute to the development of teacher competency and leadership through online group mentoring. Participants also will discuss the use of content analysis as a methodology for studying the effects of online mentoring, and review research-based evidence of the relative strengths and weaknesses of online mentoring. Participants gained knowledge to inform their own decision-making about designing and using mentoring programs for new teachers.