SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland – Teachers and students are now benefiting from a Teacher Mentorship Programme (TMP) that was recently launched at Manning’s School. The programme, created and managed by the Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC), offers professional support to teachers who are new to the school or returning to the classroom after a five-year absence.
Manning’s, which follows Manchester High School where the TMP was first rolled out, has reported positive results from the programme since it was launched at the school last month.
Certified mentor and head of the mentorship programme at Manning’s, Ilene Cohall-Bailey, is currently mentoring the two newest members of staff at her institution. They are first-timers in the classroom. According to Cohall-Bailey, the transition has been less overwhelming for her new team members because they are able to receive support from mentors who can offer advice on issues such as how to deal with a disruptive student.
“They do not have to figure things out on their own,” Cohall-Bailey told the Jamaica Observer. “They are guided step by step with what to do and how to do it.”
She said all of the school’s department heads have been unofficially given the title of mentors. The long-term plan is for each to be certified and for all teachers at the institution to participate in the programme.
Guest speaker at the Manning’s School Mentorship Programme Launch, business teacher at Munro College, certified mentor and regional officer for the mentorship programme for Region 5, Audley Feare, told the Observer at the event that he believes the programme is important to the professional development of teachers for several reasons.
“[As teachers] you can mess up,” he said. “You have to know how to deal with the different behaviours [in the classroom]. What may work here, may not work there, and having somebody in your school that knows the culture [of the school] that will give tips here and there is actually very good.”
He also explained that the programme can help teachers avoid getting low appraisal scores as support is given from the beginning of their careers.
Chief mentorship officer at the JTC, Ingrid Peart-Wilmot, explained that the programme is basically teachers collaborating for growth. She noted that classroom management is reinforced and that the programme also assists with teacher-student relationships.
“We look at teachers respecting students, students respecting teachers and respecting self,” she stated. “What we find with a broken relationship is a lack of respect.”
Ongoing training is a part of the programme, which ensures that mentors at each school are exemplary teachers and suitable role models. Teachers who wish to be mentors must submit an application and undergo a background check in which the JTC contacts the school where they are employed to get an analytic evaluation.
Peart-Wilmot indicated that there are certified mentors in 75 per cent of the schools in Jamaica and the aim is to have at least one certified mentor in every educational institution.