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Commission Project
Program Development Credential
Is Mentoring Effective?
Karen Philips
University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee
May 10, 2014


Research Project
As a student in Program Development Credential, I was given the task of developing a program
that will improve the quality of my program. After contemplating this task, I identified several issues
that kept surfacing: teacher qualification, training and support. I decided to research the question,
Does mentoring/coaching help teachers become better practitioners?
Years ago when many of us entered the field, two 40-hour courses were all that was required to
get a job. Child care teachers were given the task of keeping children safe and happy; yet, there was
nothing in the training that taught us about the importance of providing quality learning experiences for
children or best practices. Many had no knowledge of providing developmentally appropriate activities
or the importance of developing lesson plans that incorporate intentional teaching goals.
Since the advent of Youngstar, teacher education has received more attention. As centers strive
to meet the Youngstar educational requirements, individuals are returning to school to earn college
credits, certificates, credentials and degrees. However, many current and incoming teachers lack the
necessary skills that will enable them to put into practice the knowledge they gained from books and
coursework. Because Youngstar has a mandatory formal observation component before a center can
earn a four or five star rating, we believe it is necessary for our center to develop a formal process to
prepare current and incoming teachers to put into practice what they have learned. It is becoming more
evident that simply having teachers earn college credits is not enough to increase the quality of early
care programs. Instead, teachers need the opportunity to practice what they have learned under the
watchful eye of a skilled mentor.
Love and Rowland (1999) wrote that mentoring is a strategy for supporting teachers as they
grow professionally. Similarly, Starcevich (2009) stated that coaching has been proven to increase
competency, and help employees adapt to change. By researching how mentoring and coaching

programs have improved teacher performance in other programs, I hope to determine if the
development of a mentoring or coaching plan for my program would be an effective way to increase the
quality of care that children receive as teachers strive to increase their knowledge through college
credits and additional training.
Professionals from many academic disciplines have incorporated some type of internship, field
placement or practicum into their curriculum before students are allowed to graduate. Even after being
hired, many professions and companies still require new employees to work with a more experienced
person for several weeks or months before working alone. If mentoring and coaching in other fields
have proven effective in increasing productivity, uniformity, job satisfaction and reducing employee
turnover, why shouldnt our program implement a mentoring or coaching program?
Mentoring has to be done correctly in order to effectively provide the children in our care a solid
educational foundation. It cannot be done haphazardly as a good mentor has the ability to open doors
and help teachers create opportunities for growth. They can help teachers develop their strengths and
help them stay motivated and effective. Stoik (2010) states that an effective mentoring program will
help teachers learn from their mistakes and improve as they strive for independence and become
leaders themselves. Chronus (2011) goes on to list the characteristics of an effective mentor which
include: experienced, knowledgeable, a good listener, enjoys sharing their experiences with others and
has a wealth of knowledge in their profession. Most importantly, they should be interested in helping
others succeed and have an understanding that mentoring is about developing people, not fixing them.
Collaboration, as it relates to mentoring and coaching, is a strategy for preventing teacher
isolation, supporting new teachers, reducing teacher turnover and improving the quality of care in early
education. According to the article, Implementing Change with Understanding and Respect, People
resist change, even when its good change. We are all comfortable with the familiar; care givers may

resist changing the way they have been doing things because they truly believe they have been doing
the best for the children Rowley (1999). Although change may be difficult, an effective mentorship
program should address more than how we work in the classroom; it must also cover how one can
develop as a professional.
Prydale (2011) defines coaching as a short-term relationship in which one individual guides
another individual through a process, leading to enhanced performance. The coach has a set agenda and
a specific objective for each discussion/meeting with the coachee to reinforce or change skills and
behaviors. Once the coachee successfully acquires the skills, the coach is no longer needed and the
relationship is ended. The early childhood coach provides a supportive environment in which the
teacher and coach can jointly reflect on current practices and problem solve challenging situations. The
coachs ultimate goal is sustained performance where the teacher has the skills and confidence to
engage in self-reflection, self-correction and the understanding of new skills and strategies to help
appropriately respond to new situations. The coach will eventually determine if the teacher has
successfully acquired the skills by conducting a series of observations, assessments and evaluations.
Similar to coaching, mentoring is a relationship between an experienced person and a less
experienced person. Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in
order to maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the
person they want to be (Reyes, 2010). The power of mentoring is that it creates a unique opportunity
for collaboration and relationship building. Although specific learning goals and competencies may be
used for creating the relationship, mentoring differs from coaching in that it is usually a longer-term
relationship. A mentor/mentee relationship provides a safe place where the mentee is able to share
whatever issues affect his or her professional and personal success. A successful mentoring relationship
is symbiotic in that the mentor often gains from the relationship as well as the mentee. Although it is

usually longer-term, the mentoring relationship can be ended and re-established as new issues or
concerns surface (Management Mentors, 2013). Mentoring in the field of education can help teachers
develop tools to continually improve the quality of care in early care and education programs.
Moore (2011) suggests that teachers who return to school to learn the most current teaching
methods often revert back to what they are comfortable with. The use of mentoring can help reduce
this behavior by giving teachers the opportunity and support they need to implement the new skills they
have learned. Mentoring allows teachers to practice their new skills in a relaxed environment in
addition to supporting them by providing clear, specific advice about how to improve performance.
Mentoring can provide a source of new ideas about curriculum and new teaching strategies that can
lead to renewed enthusiasm and commitment to the field.
Research supports the effectiveness of mentoring in the careers of early childhood teachers,
since it is through the guidance and support of mentors that teachers in the early stages of their careers
can learn and develop an appropriate body of practical knowledge and receive encouragement that
promotes professional growth. The personal support given by mentors has been shown to reduce
isolation, increase job satisfaction, prevent burnout and help retain good teachers (Ingersoll & Kralik,
2004). Teachers in the early care and education field, at every level, whether they are just starting out
or have been in the field for a number of years can benefit from mentoring. Mentoring is more than just
throwing them in a classroom with another teacher or having them go through a lot of trainings. It must
be done with specific goals in mind that are matched up with the teachers needs. Mentoring is not
something that is short termed; it is something that comes from a relationship.
Teachers of young children experience different stages of professional development. The
beginning teacher is focused on day-to-day survival in the classroom, and often experience anxiety
about her ability to meet classroom challenges and realities. According to Lillian Katz, these teachers

are in the survival stage which may last throughout the whole first year of teaching. This is a time that a
mentor can be beneficial, in that the mentor can provide support, understanding, encouragement,
comfort, and guidance (Katz, 1977). Teachers that have been in the field three or more years may have
reached the Maturity Stage. As defined by Lillian Katz. This level of teacher is more confident of her
abilities but may be tire of doing the same old things (Katz, 1977). This is a time that a mentor can
help to revive the freshness that the experienced teacher once had. These are not the only stages that
mentoring can be beneficial too. A mentor can be beneficial at every stage of a teachers professional
In summary the mentor has a deep personal interest, is personally involved and can be
considered a friend who cares about the individual and their long term development. The coach helps
develop specific skills for the job, challenges performance expectations, with no long term commitment.
Both coaching and mentoring have been proven to enhance the quality of care offered in early care
Early education and care professionals need to have access to strong mentoring and coaching
programs so they can develop the skills that will help them provide quality learning experiences to
young children. Preschool education plays an important role in increasing school readiness and closing
achievement gaps for children at risk. High quality preschool programs include teachers who have been
trained in early childhood education and have access to ongoing learning processes. Early childhood
teachers professional development and support is a critical component in the education of young
children, but their professional development is often viewed as inconsistent, fragmented and
The dissertation written by Carmen Sherry Brown she states that research clearly demonstrates
that the short and long term positive effects that high quality pre-kindergarten and pre-school programs

have on childrens development. She also stated that mentoring and coaching strategies that are rooted
in professional development opportunities assisted teachers in implementing high quality preschool
curriculums. Well-designed preschool education produces long term improvements in school success,
including higher achievement test scores, lower rates of grade repetition and special educational
attainment (Carter, 1998).
Mentoring programs are not only good for teachers; they are good for the children and for the
profession. Teachers that are mentored stay in the field longer than those who do not receiving
mentoring support. Children benefit from the new teaching methods that teachers learn and are
allowed to practice with their mentors, thus children are better prepared when they enter kindergarten.


Brown, C. (unavailable). Implementing preschool curriculum: Mentoring and coaching as key
components to teacher professional development.
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says. Denver, CO. Education Commission of the State.
Love, F.E., & Rowland, S. T. (1999). The ABCs of mentoring beginning teachers.
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Moore, K.B. (2011). Policies and Practices: Mentoring and Coaching Teachers. Early Education Today.
Prydale. (2011). Prydale Partners in Professional Development: Removing Barriers and Improving
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Rowley, J. (1999). Educational Leadership. The Good Mentor: Supporting New Teachers. May 1999;
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