Novice teacher's perspectives on principal mentoring in a K-8 rural school setting
DeBruycker, Kimberly Michele
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Teacher turnover is a common theme in the literature for schools in our nation. Several rural Montana districts have a difficult time recruiting and retaining teachers. Many statistical studies indicate teachers move to other professions after teaching between three and five years. What remained unheard in Montana were the voices of the teachers who might stay in education if support and encouragement were made available directly from the principal or in a minority of cases, if the support available from the principal could be improved. Principals working with novice teachers in rural K-8 schools must understand the needs of their new hires in order to implement and deliver effective mentoring strategies. The purpose of the study was to probe specifically what principals can do in their mentorship of K-8 teachers in a rural setting by eliciting the thoughts of novice teachers. With this knowledge, the principal could then take steps to ensure that these practitioners remain pleased in their profession and that they experience job satisfaction. An additional benefit of the study was a resource for principal mentoring in Montana rural schools. This qualitative study captured the voices of novice teachers through semi-structured interviews. These interviews provided a description of the needs and wishes of rural teachers. The investigation focused on the actions that might be provided to novice teachers by their principal to increase educators' job satisfaction and longevity. The findings indicated Montana rural K-8 teachers would prefer increased principal interactions in the areas (in random order) of 1) introduction and orientation, 2) honesty and expectations, 3) professional growth, learning, and forgiveness, and 4) availability. These four themes of teacher expectations, gleaned directly from the voices of rural teachers, provided the basis for a 76-page resource for Montana rural principals to create and implement their own district procedures for principal mentoring.