Maine Special Educator Mentors
Teachers who reflect back on their first 1-3 years in the classroom often report “it’s all a blur!” Nearly all new teachers have anxiety about their first teaching job, and need support learning school and district policies and practices, choosing and applying teaching techniques, finding resources, managing classroom behavior, and managing timelines and paperwork.
Novice special educators have added layers of responsibility that contribute to most feeling overwhelmed, disorganized, discouraged, and inadequate. Concerns of new special education teachers narrow down to three general categories:
- Inclusion, collaboration, and interactions with colleagues and families
- Pedagogical concerns
- Managing roles
New special educators benefit from ongoing support from a veteran special educator whom they trust and who has taught students similar to those on their caseload. Novice special educators who are supported during their first years as a teacher by a caring veteran teacher who has expertise with a similar population as them are much more likely to remain in the field beyond 5 years.
As a result of the added responsibilities of special education, SED mentors juggle a dizzying number of different support areas with their mentees during the first year(s). Fortunately, veteran SED teachers are expert jugglers!
Successful SED mentors may be called upon to offer
- Emotional availability and support around the challenging aspects of teaching (e.g., supporting through listening, sharing experiences, providing encouragement)
- Support with school and district procedures and assistance with paperwork
- Support with curriculum, materials, behavior management, and other strategies
- Help addressing professional areas such as cultural competence and diversity, supporting families, and integrating IEP goals into the general curriculum
- Encouragement of reflection through open-ended questions about data and implementation efforts to allow novice special education teachers to reflect on their practices
MACM has a growing number of resources and opportunities for special education mentors, including those who are mentoring in-district and/or working with new teachers with professional certification.
Maine SED Mentor Online Community
MACM is now supporting a Special Educator Mentor Online Community for all Maine special education mentors—no need to be affiliated with MACM.
Located on Schoology, this site offers resource collections, links to free online webinars (some of which offer CEUs and contact hours), and a discussion board where you can connect with mentor colleagues statewide.
TO JOIN: Create a free Schoology student account at schoology.com. Look for the University of Maine COEHD community, and Maine Special Educators 2019 group. Use the access code 7ZDC-X7H9-9D7B8.
SED Mentor Training
We offer two SED mentor training strands:
- Training for novice SED mentors that involves three online modules that the trainee completes before undertaking a one-day live training
- Refresher training for experienced SED mentors that is comprised of three online modules.
The trainings are based on the Maine DOE mentor training modules and a focus on special educator mentoring drawn from the work of NCIPP, a national technical assistance center. Trainings are available on Schoology, and those who complete either training earn 20 contact hours. Please contact the MACM Coordinator for login information.
Maine SED Mentor Handbook
MACM has a revised version of the 2019 mentor handbook. This handbook was developed for ALL special education mentors. The Handboook features research-based information about novice special educator needs, and resources for:
- Developing the mentoring relationship
- Communicating with your mentee
- Applying the mentoring cycle, including observation and reflection tools,
- Supervising ed techs (an area that is particularly challenging to new educators)
For mentors assigned by MACM to mentor outside their districts:
- MACM mentors no longer conduct formal observations or fulfill any of the SAU’s mandated PEPG requirements, unless you are assigned by your district to fill this role. You are encouraged to observe or review video of your mentee teaching; these observations will familiarize you with your mentee’s teaching style, help with specific concerns identified by your mentee, and help you monitor progress. You and your mentee will decide when and how observations will occur.
- If you are mentoring outside your district, the mentee’s district will assign a local mentor for all district needs. You, as MACM mentor, will offer special education-specific guidance and support.
- You will log the date, time, and topics discussed for your mentee contacts and share this every month with the MACM Coordinator.
- You will send your invoice to the MACM Coordinator in December and June instead of sending directly to Maine DOE.
- Finally, you will have access to information about a number of professional development opportunities you may take during the year. Some of these may be about mentoring, many will not- just want to give you access to resources you may not otherwise see!
MACM Mentor Policies
MACM Mentors offer support, feedback, and share ideas and resources to mentees. Mentors are expected to preserve the confidentiality of the mentor/mentee relationship. The mentor is not expected to violate district, school, or teacher union policies in her or his role as mentor.
Mentors will not:
- Conduct formal observations to meet the district’s requirements for annual evaluation purposes
- Offer observations or information about the mentee with district personnel
- Share mentor feedback to mentee with others
- Share mentee reflections with others
- Share anything that transpires between mentor and mentee without the expressed permission of the mentee
If the mentor observes something said or done by the mentee that is perceived as significantly unethical or troubling, or that causes the mentor concern about the mentee’s words or actions:
- The mentor will contact the MACM Coordinator to discuss the event and determine next steps
- If further action is merited, the mentor will proceed as advised
If the mentor observes something in the classroom that s/he suspects could be abuse or neglect:
- The mentor will proceed as directed in described Maine Title 22, Section 4011-A
- The mentor is not exempt from her or his obligation as a mandated in the event of suspected child neglect or abuse
Mentors may ensure familiarity with Maine’s Mandated Reporter responsibilities for educators by reviewing the Maine DHHS Office of Child And Family Service’s online Mandated Reporter Training found at www.maine.gov/dhhs/ocfs/mandated-reporters.html.