From The Danielson Group
The national teacher shortage is the cumulative result of a variety of factors. High levels of teacher stress, large numbers of positions to fill, and competition from non-education-related jobs are three of the many reasons teachers are leaving the profession. Perhaps one of the most overlooked reasons for this continuous outpouring of educators is the lack of consistent support available to teachers.
In short, the need for high-quality mentorship to support the profession is greater than ever before.
That is why partnerships that support strong mentorship, like the partnership between the Danielson Group (DG) and Educators Leading the Profession (ELP), are so critical. The DG and ELP work together to provide a support system for new teachers, coaches and building mentors across Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota. This kind of collaborative coaching and mentoring will ensure more teachers are set up for long, successful careers in education.
What is Educators Leading the Profession (ELP)?
ELP is a teacher mentorship program that pairs new teachers to mentors and coaches, both within their school and in a virtual setting. ELP also prepares experienced teachers to become mentors themselves.
For ELP, a new teacher is considered anyone within their first through third year of teaching. ELP believes that when these new teachers are paired with mentors and coaches, instructional and pedagogical skills will be discussed, practiced and strengthened more consistently throughout the year, resulting in increased teacher retention rates and improved student outcomes.
Why is ELP partnering with the DG?
The DG directly supports coaches and building mentors by providing access to the Framework for Teaching (FFT) and companion tools like the FFT Clusters , as well as direct engagement with members of the DG team. Leveraging the DG’s deep expertise in improving instruction and student outcomes, the program focuses heavily on reflection, coaching, and growth. The content in this partnership emphasizes the real needs of educators around blended learning, trauma-informed practices, and social and emotional well-being.
Year One: The focus of year one is to help coaches strengthen their skills and build agency to better support the educators they work with. Coursework ranged in topics from culturally responsive teaching to creating work-life balance to prioritizing social-emotional learning for students and teachers. Additionally, there were monthly, 90-minute sessions with each stakeholder group — coaches, in-person mentors, and new teachers — as well as additional debrief sessions-with coaches and building mentors to identify and problem-solve around challenges.
Year Two: During year two, coaches, mentors, and new teachers will focus on planning, reflecting, and putting into practice the lessons they learned the year before. With a strong foundation of knowledge and skills, all participants will actively work on improving instruction and student outcomes.
What is the impact of this partnership?
Because this partnership emphasizes mentoring and feedback, teachers are already more comfortable engaging with and applying the FFT in their classrooms and day-to-day instruction.
The intentional design and implementation of this partnership creates a cultural shift within a school building by cultivating an environment that focuses on reflection, support, and growth for every learner in the building. As teachers and in-building mentors shift their own approach to learning and development, this change is felt by colleagues and leaders, as well as students.
The DG and ELP have observed that coaches and mentors are able to more effectively see and respond to the needs of teachers; teachers are able to more effectively lead a classroom; and students therefore receive a more impactful education.
How can others learn from this partnership?
This partnership is helping participants see what strong coaching and development looks like in practice, utilizing synchronous and asynchronous methods of learning. . Learning is an active process — one that requires reflection, collaboration, and iteration — and the structure of this program allows for direct application of knowledge and skills that generate constant opportunities for learning and growth by the participants.
This program has also built stronger bonds between new and veteran teachers, often pushing mentors and school leaders to reevaluate the way they have coached over the years and reminding them how difficult the day-to-day experience of an early-career teacher really is. Supporting authentic relationships can be transformative for a school’s overall culture and climate.
The unique partnership between the DG and ELP showcases how important mentoring is in the classroom — both for teachers and students. Teachers know that providing support paired with self-guided learning opportunities is an effective way to help their students learn; why not give teachers that same kind of support system?