red Supported Site Ball State University: Induction & Mentoring

Successes

  • Mike Wolter, TIR for 2003-2004, and John Layman, a member of the PhysTEC Project Management Team, prepared induction/mentoring materials, policies, and procedures that were shared with other PhysTEC member institutions and have become part of the professional preparation of the project's TIRs. These materials have been used as the basis for mentoring discussions at many professional meetings.
  • On a Teachers College internal assessment instrument, two of the standards specifically addressed inquiry instruction, and on these standards, the preservice science teachers scored higher than their counterparts in other content areas in the university. The 2006-2007 TIR (Elaine Gwinn) provided leadership in this effort.
  • From 2003-2008, the TIRs have provided excellent service in the mentoring of both preservice and inservice teachers at Ball State. The 100% retention rate of Ball State PhysTEC teachers over the past 8 years is mostly due to the quality mentoring from these individuals.
  • The TIR model of mentoring new teachers will be used in the new Woodrow Wilson Foundation program. This program is to designed to provide fellowships to students preparing to become new teachers from recent college STEM graduates or transitioning STEM professionals.

Challenges

  • The science departments that are responsible for the preparation of physical science teachers do not receive teaching-load credit for their time spent on the mentoring of preservice teachers. Therefore, the university’s teacher preparation programs do not provide content mentoring of their newly-prepared teachers, nor, generally, does the state. (Currently, our TIRs mentor pre-service teachers to help them understand fundamental concepts in greater depth.)
  • State funding for the required mentoring of new teachers has been problematic.
  • Seeking funds for the TIR position to maintain quality mentoring beyond that from PhysTEC has been a challenging task.

Sustainability/Institutional Buy-In

  • For the past three budget years, the TIR model has been taken forward to the Provost in the University’s budget planning process and proposed university-wide. With STEM education programs under discussion, college administrators may be able to build on the successes of PhysTEC and incorporate the TIR model in new STEM initiatives, but there is no commitment at this time.
  • The state’s new licensure requirements (2002), the interest in STEM education initiatives at the state and national levels, and the PhysTEC experience have all been timely in creating an environment for change in approaches to training and retaining new teachers.
  • The success of the induction and mentoring of new teachers in the PhysTEC program has led to the adoption of the TIR model in the Woodrow Wilson Foundation program at Ball State. The initial plan is to use a TIR in mentoring the new teachers from the new program.

Lessons Learned

  • A full-time TIR is essential for an effective mentoring program.
  • Effective communication with the upper administration, planning, patience, and persistence are all required to obtain funding for the TIR.

Activity Summary

  • Michael Wolter, TIR for 2003-2004, had knowledge of the new Indiana state mentoring requirement, and he formed contacts with the consultant to the Indiana Department of Education who trained mentors throughout the state.
  • Michael Wolter, Jeffery Sayers, Neil Anthony, and Elaine Gwinn, Ball State TIRs, have all mentored preservice teachers.
  • Students preparing for licensure in the sciences were introduced to the profession and given mentoring in a new course that is taught by members of the Science Education faculty in the Department of Biology, since 2003, with active participation by the TIRs.
  • The TIRs have conducted on-site classroom visits with their mentees each year. TIRs that have returned to their schools continue to be in contact in a less formal way (on call) with their former mentees. During the 2004-2005 school year, former TIR Michael Wolter worked with Ball State’s University Computing Service support staff and technical staff from his school to provide E-mentoring and classroom observations over the Internet. However, financial support and technical support did not allow this to be continued.
  • Mike Wolter introduced the Project Management Team to Indiana’s mentoring system in the fall of 2003 during their visit to Ball State. Wolter was becoming a “certified” state mentor (the state mentoring system was established because of the new licensure requirements that began in the fall of 2002). He and the state’s (DOE) mentoring leader–-Sharon Schultz–presented a workshop at the Xavier Conference in the spring of 2004.
  • In 2007-2008, without the formal position of TIR, mentoring activities were still continued by former TIRs, Gwinn and Sayers. Some on-site visits of classes were made in conjunction with RTOP assessment.
  • A student organization was formed that included secondary science teachers – Cardinal Teachers of Science (CATS). This group was formed during 2003-2004 and is affiliated with the NSTA. PhysTEC Team Member Walter Smith spearheaded the formation of CATS in 2003-2004. The TIR and other PhysTEC team members supported his efforts.
  • PhysTEC education faculty, with project support, took secondary science students to the state meeting of the Hoosier Association of Science Teachers, Incorporated (HASTI). This organization is a state affiliate of NSTA.