In this final post from NCTR’s multi-part blog series, which highlights our work and the work of our partners at the California State University (CSU) system through the New Generation of Educators Initiative, mentor teacher Matthew Rotherham discusses his experience with the residency model. “Part Six: From The Desk of a Mentor Teacher” focuses on how a school district supports the mentor experience and describes Mr. Rotherham’s own mentor practice.

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It has been a wonderful experience to work with the Kern Urban Teacher Residency program in Bakersfield. I have learned just as much from my residents about how to improve my teaching practices as I hope they have learned from me. I’ve learned that as a mentor, you have to be open to new experiences when you share your classroom with another. Doing this really brings new perspective to the teaching profession.  

Kern Urban Teacher Residency is a partnership between my district, the Bakersfield City School District, and our cooperating university partner, California State University, Bakersfield. This team along with mentor teachers like myself work to prepare teacher candidates to be classroom-ready on Day 1 through thoughtful observations and meaningful, bite-sized feedback. To do this, the district provides mentors with bi-weekly coaching using the Charlotte Danielson Framework. Mentors review and examine each domain: planning, classroom environment, responsibilities and instruction. Each mentor measures a resident’s proficiency in those domains and supports our ranking through written, anecdotal accounts from our observation of their instruction, The goal is to support candidates in growth through pinpointed next steps.  After a formal lesson is complete, I sit down with my resident to discuss  what went well and areas that could use improvement.

My resident also observes me throughout the day. I ask her to write at least five questions she would like me to answer about my practice.  It may be about a student, the school, teaching techniques or any classroom situation that might arise.  At the end of each day, we sit down and go over the questions.  A lot of the time I have her answer the questions before I give my answer. I believe it helps her think about how she would handle things in her own classroom. Most importantly, it gives her confidence.

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Matthew Rotherham 

Elementary School Teacher

Bakersfield City School District