Each August, an average of 200 teachers enter the Mesa
Career Ladder Program. The three-year Entry Level Program
serves both teachers new to teaching (designated by the
abbreviation TNT) and teachers new to Mesa (TNM).
As in Flowing Wells, teachers coming to Mesa with no classroom
experience are enrolled in a four-day training session prior
to the opening of school.
According to Nancy Fiandach, Career Ladder Specialist for
Mesa Public Schools, "Our first year focuses almost
entirely on classroom management. We place heavy emphasis
on routines and procedures."
On each of the four teacher training days, classroom management
seminars are staged during the morning hours. Each afternoon,
first-year teachers have the opportunity to view demonstration
classrooms or to work with mentors on preparing their classrooms.
Mesa Public Schools pays selected veteran teachers to come
in two or three days early to arrange their classrooms as
they would for the first day of school. Elementary demonstration
classrooms are grouped by grade levels (kindergarten, grades
1-2, 3-4, and 5-6), music, and special education, while
secondary demonstration classrooms are grouped by content
The district provides these demonstration classrooms even
if only one or two teachers are hired on a particular grade
level. "Our aim is to make sure every teacher can see
what a really fine classroom looks like," Dr. Fiandach
Throughout the course of the induction week, these demonstration
classrooms serve as a gathering place for new teachers,
who are assigned the tasks of writing introductory letters
to parents, drafting classroom management plans, and preparing
their rooms for Parent Open House and the first days of
"The demonstration classrooms become the place for
new teachers to develop their (classroom management) plans
and get their letters ready to go home," Dr. Fiandach
notes. "We encourage a lot of group editing and brainstorming."
The Mesa district leadership also makes available a staff
member in each school (usually a trained mentor at each
new teachers grade level or a master teacher at the
school) who can walk inexperienced teachers through various
"logistical problems" they might encounter, such
as gathering classroom materials and arranging classrooms
to facilitate student comfort and mobility.
"The job for the person assigned to each school is
to help the new teacher - period," Dr. Fiandach explains.
"They may help new teachers move their furniture around,
cut bulletin board background paper, sharpen pencils, get
their books. They do whatever it takes to get those new
teachers ready for Open House and to get letters out to
Unlike some districts, Mesa Public Schools doesnt
assign new teachers mandatory mentors. Mentors are trained
and made available to first-year teachers, who may then
choose whether or not to align themselves with mentors.
On average, more than 95 percent of the new hires request
"Any time we can get that kind of percentage return
without mandating something, we prefer to give them the
choice," Dr. Fiandach says. "It seems to make
the idea of mentors a little more attractive to the teachers."
Potential mentors attend 12 hours of training and 16 hours
in classroom management training. Trained mentors receive
a $500 stipend for the year to work with new teachers, plus
an additional $10 per clock hour when they attend inservices
with the first-year teachers.
Also, mentors and new teachers are provided two days of
release time for a variety of professional opportunities,
such as observing each others classrooms or classrooms
in other schools. They, in turn, are assigned to write a
reflective report on those experiences.
"One of the unexpected pleasures we have found is that
the mentors tell us, I have never been in anybodys
classroom while theyre teaching. Thats
turned out to be a real plus for us," Dr. Fiandach
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