Weekley Questions Policy Change
Josh Weekley questioned the Wetzel County Board of Education at their Monday, Sept. 21 meeting on changes being made to the county’s mentorship program for beginning teachers.
Weekley, Co-President of the Wetzel County Education Association, said that in 2012, the state legislature passed a bill, 4236, which had intent to give counties more power when it came to teacher induction programs. Counties were directed to create a “Comprehensive System for teacher Induction and Professional Growth.” Weekley said that as of July 1, 2013, the bill stated that counties would not be eligible for state funding for the purposes of teacher induction until the plan had been submitted and approved by the WVDE. Weekley said Wetzel County did submit a plan.
“The plan on record at the Division of Educator Quality and System Support states that first-year teachers will continue to be assigned a mentor teacher who will meet on a regular basis with the assigned mentor,” Weekley said.
Weekley said the plan stated that a monthly meeting would take place between the beginning teacher, mentor, and building principal “The plan states that mentors would be compensated in the amount of $600 for their services. The plan goes on to describe what will happen on the second and third years for a beginning teacher and also addresses our counties willingness to work with teacher education programs throughout the state in placing student teachers in our school.”
Weekley said the WCEA felt the above-described plan was a good one and should not be discarded.
Weekley added that on that very day he received a new plan for beginning teachers.
Weekley said it appeared as if the county would no longer assign first year teachers a mentor, and instead, over the course of a year, any teacher in years one through three would go to a monthly Professional Learning Community meeting lasting an hour and a half after school with topics that coincide with West Virginia Educator Evaluations. Weekley said this system sounded like it would be “helpful to our new teachers,” but feared it would be difficult for many to attend. Furthermore, Weekley said classroom management won’t be addressed until Dec. 3 and Educational technology would not be addressed until April 7.
“In reading the Mentoring plan that I received today it does strongly encourage initial learning progression teachers to attend, but if this is ‘the’ mentoring program, it can’t be optional. A new teacher requires a mentoring program to renew their teaching license,” Weekley said.
Weekley further said that many of the WCEA members, and non-members, are concerned that the mentorship program that helped them become better teachers has been replaced.
Weekley inquired as to who would lead the sessions and if the sessions’ leaders have gone through the trainings that mentors are required to attend.
“Will a new teacher be expected to share their failures with someone in a position to evaluate them?” Weekley asked. “I know how helpful it was to discuss the things that didn’t work for me my first year with a fellow teacher down the hall that had experienced the same types of situations without fear of losing my job.”
Weekley said especially in regards to Special Education, the value of having a mentor assigned to a first year teacher to help with learning the very specific and “legally binding” paperwork requirements of the job is “very great.”
Weekley said the law passed in 2012 does not state that mentorships used in the past should be eliminated. He said throughout the law it is mentioned that mentor teachers are a viable option. “The Department of Education has approved a plan including the use of mentors in our county.”
Weekley said the letter he received said the new system is only a part of the mentor/mentee program that Wetzel County is providing to teachers. Weekley said that if this was the case, he saw no problem offering more support to new teachers. however,r he said if the new system was to be used as a major component and replace the one to one mentor/mentee model, the WCEA “strongly oppose” the move.