Informal Mentoring Strategies Training for California Mentors

Much research in the field has established that many new teachers struggle with maintaining a balance and leveraging support with responsibilities in their professional lives, particularly those who serve in the field of special education. In turn, these factors contribute to the high attrition rates prevalent in the special education teaching field. Induction programs are one method that states, including California, utilize in an attempt to address this issue. Despite pointed efforts, data shows that attrition rates have continued to grow, even with induction programs in place. The formal mentoring that constitutes a large portion of most induction programs is examined in this work and has revealed a gap between the less beneficial formal process and the more success found in informal mentoring strategies at retaining education specialists. This study discusses this gap in research that has resulted in a training manual about the best methods and strategies to incorporate informal mentoring procedures into typically formal induction programs within California. Incorporating informal mentoring includes a) establishing a rapport with mentees, b) developing and maintaining trust, c) phrasing feedback to alleviate pressure, and d) appropriately structuring formal meetings. The training manual explores and provides an alternative approach which is promising for both mentors and new teachers.