Making a difference: One teacher's journey as a mentor

The focus of this work was a mentor-protege relationship that developed over the course of several months between a five year veteran teacher, myself, and Olivia, who was hired for her first year to teach Science in Kindergarten, First, Fourth and Fifth grades. It began as help to plan the First grade lessons only, but over the course of ten meetings it became assistance with planning, teaching strategies, classroom management and advice for all grade levels. Interactions included three observations of her teaching (once in First grade and twice in Kindergarten), teaching a model lesson for a First grade class at her school, and acting as a critical friend and confidant. Having reflected on the data collected and our time together, the following findings have emerged. 1. Teacher attrition is an enormous problem facing first year teachers. 2. A successful mentor-protege relationship requires certain conditions. 3. The experience of acting as a mentor is invaluable to the veteran teacher, offering opportunities for growth and self-reflection. 4. Time and space for teaching science in the elementary classroom is limited, and teachers often feel unqualified to do so. Key Words: mentor, teacher attrition, critical friend