Trained mentors are vital to new teachers
January 30, 2023
The following article was written by Conni Campbell, Ed.D., coordinator, San Diego County Office of Education.
The role of a mentor and the purpose of their assignment depends on the business or industry that employs the mentor and the intended outcome of the mentorship. In education, a mentor commonly fills the role of experienced advisor, coach and someone who is helping to “train up” someone less experienced in the field. For this reason, the qualifications of the mentor are important to consider as teacher recruitment and retention efforts continue to be a priority.
In the education field, providing mentors to preservice, intern and new teachers is not only required in California during teacher certification, but is also vital to their success and retention in the profession. To ensure mentors are effective, the program standards for teacher preparation in California now require distinct training for mentors assigned to new and practicing teachers that is more structured and standardized than in previous years.
In order to acquire and retain their California accreditation, teacher-preparation programs must continually shift and adjust their coursework and processes to meet any changes in the program standard language adopted by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing based on new regulations of the California Department of Education. Changes to program standards, teaching performance expectations and required assessments seem to be plentiful in recent years, often creating additional accountability for educator preparation programs.
One recent change to the program standards for teacher preparation programs offering the Multiple Subject, Single Subject, and Education Specialist preliminary and clear teaching credentials is language about the qualifications of individuals assigned to supervise and support the clinical practice experience of preservice teachers.
In response, San Diego County Office of Education built an online training that results in a Certificate in Clinical Practice Support and Supervision to help universities and districts provide well-prepared mentors and to satisfy this component of the teaching credential program standards in California.
Preliminary Multiple Subject, Single Subject, and Education Specialist Credential Program Standard 3, Common Standard 3, and Teacher Induction Program Standard 4 call for anyone supervising preservice teachers, intern teachers and beginning teachers to have initial training and maintain current knowledge of effective supervision approaches in coaching, adult learning theory, and current content-specific pedagogy and instructional practices. There are various supervision roles that fall into this category, such as classroom teachers who host clinical practice candidates, university supervisors of clinical practice candidates, clinical supervisors and site-based mentors of intern teachers, and induction mentors of beginning teachers.
The SDCOE training is assisting districts and universities statewide to more seamlessly ensure their district-employed mentors and university supervisors are qualified to serve in their support roles to new teachers. The training covers the eight hours of required content completed at one’s own pace over four weeks, completely online, managed by a facilitator/instructor and delivered in four distinct modules covering:
  • Necessary dispositions of mentors,
  • Valuing adult learners,
  • The skills of mentoring and coaching,
  • Collaborative practice,
  • Effective classroom systems,
  • Teaching performance expectations,
  • Teaching performance assessment,
  • Universal Design for Learning, Multi-Tiered System of Supports, and curricular adaptations.
The training is available to any university that pairs student teachers with host teachers and university supervisors. It is also utilized by districts that host student teachers or have mentors paired with induction candidates or other peer-to-peer mentoring programs.
Since 2019, more than 1,200 mentors working in K-12 settings have completed the training, with data showing between 95 percent and 98 percent of respondents would rate each module as “effective” or “very effective” in preparing them to be a mentor to a new teacher. Each participant receives a portable badge of completion as evidence of having been trained (for future service as a clinical supervisor, cooperating teacher or mentor), and any university or district participating will have access to a growing database of clinical supervisors and district-employed mentors who have been trained (for accreditation purposes).
Just last year, SDCOE added Field Supervisors of Pupil Personnel Services credential candidates to its training menu since the Pupil Personnel Services program standards also went through a revision process and now include similar language regarding the preparation of all field supervisors.
In partnership with local universities, participants can earn three units of graduate credit when they complete the training coupled with at least eight weeks of supervision to a new teacher or school counselor.
The offering is held each semester and is open for the entirety of the semester to accommodate different university calendars and student teacher placement timelines.
For more information about the Teacher Effectiveness and Preparation department of SDCOE, visit or call 858-295-7737.
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