First-year teachers in the State of Illinois are getting an extra hand in the classroom this year through a unique mentoring program. The Illinois State Board of Education has paired up with the state’s teachers unions to provide a virtual mentoring program designed to reduce turnover among new teachers.
Jennifer Kirmes, Executive Director of ISBE’s teaching and learning says its been especially important and effective during the challenges of COVID-19: “What it intends to do is to make sure that new teachers who are just beginning their careers in education in these incredibly unique and challenging times are supported both physically in-person for those who are able to be in-person and that they are supported virtually through coaching and mentoring support. Just allowing teachers to have a person that they can go to with those [upcoming] questions where they feel safe, and trusted, and supported, and made to feel like no question is a dumb question is critical.”
The Illinois Virtual Instructional Coach and Building Mentor Program matches first-year teachers with coaches and mentors based on grade level, content area, cultural affinity, and interviews. ISBE is administering the program via a $6.5 million grant, funded through the federal CARES Act to support the state’s nearly 4,000 new teachers.