The Benefits of Mentorship: The Case for a Tiered Teacher Mentorship Program

Caroline Chessia | November 15, 2023

Continuous mentorship creates a community for teachers centered on their development. Mentorship programs offer new and continuing teachers guidance in their lesson plans, classroom management, and bigger picture career development. However, more than 40% of districts do not offer teachers opportunities for collaborative learning and knowledge sharing (Prenger et al., 2017). 

Schools that take advantage of the benefits of mentorship (which include reduced turnover) are more likely to have teachers that are satisfied with their work life (83% of employees with mentors have high workplace satisfaction). But what structures are schools using to structure their onboarding and teacher mentor programs? 


Tiered Mentorship Programs for Schools

Implementing a tiered mentorship program ensures that educators receive comprehensive support across various areas of their professional development. The tiered system of big-picture mentors, instructional coaches, and day-to-day mentors caters to different aspects of teacher development. 

By offering mentorship at different levels, schools not only assist new teachers in navigating their roles but also contribute to a continuous cycle of improvement, where experienced educators actively engage in the growth and development of their colleagues. Ultimately, a tiered mentorship program enhances teacher effectiveness, job satisfaction, and overall educational outcomes. Here’s what a tiered mentorship program could look like at your school:

  • Tier A Teacher Mentors. These are big-picture mentors. They should be individuals compensated for dedicating time beyond regular hours to meet with educators throughout the school year. They serve as a comprehensive check-in for teachers, as well as someone to talk to for professional development queries.
  • Tier B Teacher Mentors. These mentors are instructional coaches ready to assist new teachers in crafting lesson plans, fostering student engagement, and class management. This tier focuses on honing instructional skills and providing specific guidance for effective teaching practices.
  • Tier C Teacher Mentors. These are day-to-day mentors. They are colleagues strategically paired with new teachers–normally they will be paired by grade level or subject. They are the closest work colleagues of your new teacher, and will be the ones ready to step in with a helping hand on class coverage or dual lesson plans. Many Tier C mentors have synchronized planning periods or co-teaching arrangements. 


Benefits of Mentorship 

One of the primary advantages of a mentorship program is that it fosters a supportive community within the school environment. Teachers working in schools with mentoring programs have a space for open dialogue, collaboration, and sharing of instructional strategies. Moreover, mentors offer valuable guidance in navigating challenges unique to the teaching profession, promoting resilience and job satisfaction among mentees. 

Another advantage of a mentorship program is the transfer of knowledge and practical insights from seasoned mentors to less experienced educators. This exchange not only enhances teaching skills but also contributes to professional growth and confidence. Ultimately, making sure that the students at your school are served by the best educators.


Structured Onboarding Programs for Teachers

A structured onboarding process goes hand in hand with a mentorship program and is another key asset of an effective teacher retention program. Structured onboarding can involve digital onboarding tools to make your process simpler and avoid missing paperwork submissions or deadlines. Another important element in structured onboarding (and mentorship) involves asking for feedback from your new hires after 30, 60, and 90 days.

Having a structured onboarding process can reduce teacher turnover. Employees working at an organization with a structured onboarding process are 69% more likely to stay there for 3+ years. Structured onboarding programs paired with mentorship programs address prevalent onboarding challenges, including:

  • Issues stemming from a lack of guidance and support during the initial months of the school year.
  • Challenges related to understanding the nuances of onboarding new hires, recognizing the distinctions between those with a teaching degree and those arriving from different school districts or career paths.
  • Opportunities missed to gather valuable teacher feedback at crucial intervals, such as 30/60/90 days.


Using Technology to Structure Your Onboarding Programs

Hiring and onboarding technology can help you create a structured onboarding experience for new teachers. We at interviewstream would be happy to share the knowledge of districts and school boards that work with us to guide you in your mentorship program implementation.

Here is an article on two school districts working with interviewstream and how they approach onboarding. If you’d like to create a great onboarding program that will help you retain teachers for years to come, get in contact with us.

About The Author

Caroline Chessia is the Marketing Operations Specialist at interviewstream. She loves color-coordinated graphs, hiking in the mountains, and every dog she meets—especially the Golden Retrievers.


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