January is National Mentoring Month, celebrating those who have dedicated themselves to providing guidance and wisdom to the next generation.
The Hawai‘i Teacher Induction Center supports mentorship for approximately 1,300 first and second year educators in the Department every year. The center was officially established in 2012 and leads the only statewide comprehensive teacher induction program in the nation. It falls under the HIDOE’s Office of Talent of Management.
Kristen Brummel and Keri Shimomoto, educational specialists with the Hawai‘i Teacher Induction Center, share more about the support provided to beginning teachers and mentors.
Q: What is the Hawai‘i Teacher Induction Center?
Keri: The Hawai‘i Teacher Induction Center is a part of the Leadership Institute focusing on creating a comprehensive system of support for all beginning teachers. Our work focuses on helping beginning teachers develop systems, habits and mindsets that will allow them to do the best job possible for our keiki without burning out.
Kristen: We work with Induction Program Coordinators at each complex area to provide just in time orientations and professional development to onboard and integrate beginning teachers into their schools, their complex areas and the Department at large. Part of that onboarding includes learning about Hawai‘i’s cultures and norms so that they can acclimate and feel a sense of belonging to their community. The relationships that they establish in these learning communities are instrumental for them to feel safe and to know that they are not alone and that they have a network of people to turn to when they need it.
Keri: We build the leadership capacity of our Induction Program Coordinators through quarterly professional learning networks, presenter training and collaboration sessions, weekly data check-ins, and one-to-one coaching. We also manage a comprehensive induction data system to ensure they have the data and resources needed for continuous program growth.
Q: How does the teacher induction program work?
Kristen: All first and second year beginning teachers are paired with a trained, instructional mentor who regularly (approximately 180 minutes per month) work with them on lesson planning, analyzing student work, observation cycles, engagement and differentiation strategies, and more. These mentors are carefully selected and trained so that they have the skills, knowledge and dispositions to be effective.
Q: Why is it important to have a mentorship program for new teachers?
Kristen: In addition to providing a strong support system for new teachers, the induction program will also improve the retention of quality teachers in the department and give excellent teachers the opportunity to develop as educational leaders in their role as mentors.
Q: What is the goal of the program?
Keri: Being a new teacher is challenging and can feel extremely overwhelming, even isolating at times. Teachers are trying to navigate so many things that are new such as adapting to a new school culture and norms, new curriculum, and a unique group of students. So many responsibilities land on them at once. We want beginning teachers to become confident, efficacious, to truly enjoy teaching and seeing students learn and grow, and to one day become mentors themselves.
Q: How do I get involved as a mentor or mentee?
Keri: Induction Program Coordinators ensure that the beginning teachers in their complex are paired with a trained instructional mentor. We encourage mentees to fully participate in the program by participating in orientations, Beginning Teacher PLCs that are offered, and engaging openly with their mentors.
Kristen: We currently have 509 school-based mentors and 30 full-release mentors that support 1,392 beginning teachers across the state. Our mentors are proven to be highly effective teachers, well-respected in their school communities, strong communicators, and professionals who care deeply about supporting others. If you are interested in serving as a mentor, we thank you and encourage you to talk with your principal about next steps.
Q: What are the positive impacts of mentoring?
Keri: Mentoring is a human-centered professional development with reciprocal benefits. Many teachers have stepped into a mentoring role because they have experienced the importance of being mentored themselves.
Kristen: Mentors have a tremendous impact on the practice of a new teacher by providing coaching, observations and feedback, supporting them in learning how to use student data to develop lessons that are aligned to rigorous standards, and guidance as they reflect and set goals. Mentors also impact student achievement. When students have an effective, caring teacher, students will not only learn better, but they will feel valued and experience a sense of belonging. This really sets students up for optimal learning.
Keri: We find that the reciprocal nature of mentoring also impacts mentors’ teaching and leadership. Mentors’ understanding of best practices deepens when they attend professional development and training to stay abreast of current research and strategies in order to support their beginning teachers. As they work with their mentees and facilitate critical conversations that benefit students, they grow as leaders and are role models in shaping a resilient and thriving teaching workforce.
Kristen Brummel has 22 years of experience in the Hawai‘i State Department of Education as an elementary teacher, instructional mentor and presenter, and facilitator of professional development. She currently serves as an educational specialist at the Hawai‘i Teacher Induction Center and also coordinates Teacher of the Year programming. Kristen is a National Board Certified Teacher, was the 2011 Hawai‘i State Teacher of the Year, a Hawai‘i State Teacher Fellow alum, and is a proud public school parent of two children.
Keri Shimomoto served in the Hawai‘i State Department of Education as an elementary teacher, instructional mentor, and educational leader who has designed and built mentoring systems for early career teachers. In 2011 she spearheaded the development of statewide teacher induction in Hawai‘i, and a year later, established the Hawai‘i Teacher Induction Center. She currently serves as an educational specialist at the Hawai‘i Teacher Induction Center where she manages internal and external stakeholder partnerships, communication and advocacy.