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Mentor training/support, 1:1 tutoring, and content in math, science, and special education

Overview

The New Teacher Center (NTC) offers online mentorship and training for new teachers, primarily in math, science, and special education. This is predominantly achieved through the e-Mentoring for Student Success (eMSS) platform, where new teachers consult with an NTC-provided mentor, discuss best practices with their peers in the program, and have access to “Explorations,” a set of pedagogical/content practice modules. All of NTC’s offerings are browser-based.

Like other third-party mentoring programs such as Great Teaching, Great Feedback and Advance, NTC provides third-party mentors to new teachers. It is distinctive, however, in that it provides new teachers with an online community, as well as courses and modules to support additional learning needs. Teachers can use the online community for as long as they want.

The e-Mentoring for Student Success platform costs districts $1,200 per teacher. It is used by large public districts like Chicago Public Schools, Tulsa, Austin, Hillsborough Public Schools in Florida, and the NYC Department of Education to support their new teachers and manage induction and training.

  • Purpose: Support
  • Primary Users: Primary users are new teachers. Individual schools and districts are the most frequent purchasers of the PD offerings.
  • Cost: The e-Mentoring for Student Success (eMSS) program is $1200 per teacher (though districts will often purchase “bundles” and reduce that price). There are also individual pieces either for free or for purchase by teachers outside of the eMSS program. The “Community” page offers several free resources, as well as 8-week PD modules (“Explorations”) for $200 each and a “No-Nonsense Nurturer” course for $150.
  • Skill Development: The programs target instructional/pedagogical skills and content skills for new teachers, namely in math, science, and special education.
  • On-Brand Use: NTC’s main offerings connect new teachers with third-party mentors and other new teachers over its eMSS platform. The platform offers personalized coaching support, a community network to chat with and engage in asynchronous discussions, and a selection of online courses.
  • Off-Brand Use: Though not specifically stressed, the presence of the eMSS community and forums allows for NTC users to meet one another and form their own professional learning communities--both inside and outside of their own school systems.
  • Platforms: The offering is web-based.
  • Deal breakers: This offering is not a one-stop shop PD provider. Dedication to the mentor-mentee relationship and/or time dedicated to the courses is crucial for success; current teachers merely looking for a brush-up might find the offerings unhelpful.
  • Types of Schools Using It: A number of different types of schools and districts use NTC, from urban to rural districts. This online mentoring program more often gets picked up by smaller districts, as larger districts tend to go for NTC’s in-person programming.  

Product Brief

Value Added

This service can be extremely valuable for new teachers who are the only math or science teacher in their building, or perhaps who don’t have access to experienced teachers who can guide them through their first year teaching. NTC addresses the fact that new teachers (and any teachers, really) are often alone in their development process.

It also gives districts a way to “outsource” their training of new teachers to NTC, if they have limited resources or too large an influx of new teachers for them to effectively train all the young teachers.

How does it work?

There are several facets to NTC’s online offerings. The web-based e-Mentoring for Student Success (eMSS) system consists of four main parts: (1) a private venue mentees work one-on-one or in groups with their mentor (called “Our Place”); (2) discussion forums for groups of mentors to provide ongoing professional development (“Mentor Place”), (3) facilitated classroom-focused modules focusing on pedagogical or content practice (entitled “Explorations”), and (4) a larger community space where new teachers participate in content-focused discussion forums.

Once a new teacher enrolls online, he or she is assigned a mentor based on subject area and grade level. Mentors chat online one-on-one with their mentee both synchronously (e.g. via Skype or by phone) and asynchronously (private messaging, email).

“Our Place” is the online space where the mentor can host one-on-one conversations or group sessions to include their other mentees to share challenges and receive advice. It looks similar to social media in layout, with a feed of comments and opportunity to create private groups. There are no assignments – this is a place for unstructured conversations.

With the information and practices teachers learn during their one-on-one conversations and “Our Place” sessions, they can then move to the part of the platform called “Mentor Place,” a collection of discussion forums. Teachers can ask questions of the entire selection of mentors (in case they want perspectives other than that of only their own mentor), or view other public postings.

The third part of the platform is “Explorations,” a collection of eight-week PD modules, that users can sign up for on their own. Found on the “New Teacher Zone” page, Exploration courses are available to any eMSS teacher. A variety of courses (spread between Fall, Winter, and Spring topics) are available around Common Core, Pedagogy, Special Education, and STEM.

A teacher who signs up for a Exploration course will watch online presentations, work with others in a small online community, and receive individualized feedback from their mentor and the online community. The format is flexible and aims to meet the contextual needs of individual teachers; for example, if a teacher responds better to individualized feedback, they can choose to request it more frequently of their mentor than working with a small group.

How is it used?

Districts “outsource” their mentoring to eMSS as an independent source through which their newer teachers get training, especially in smaller districts where they have a smaller number of new teachers.

The New Teacher Center recommends teachers use the program several times a week for the mentor-mentee discussion and forum postings, and once a week for Exploration courses (or other online courses, like the No-Nonsense Nurturer course).

Participation is for the most part voluntary. Districts set up an expected level of activity for enrolled participants, though this varies based on the district. Some districts may ask teachers to use mentors weekly while others may leave it up to the discrepancy of the mentor and mentee.

Every mentee-mentor engagement is different. “Our Place” and scheduled meetings happen as needed (unless district administrators have designated a specific number of times they’d like mentor-mentee events take place). The discussions are self-directed, and focus on teachers’ knowledge, skills sets, and interest. A SPED mentor and a SPED mentee might dig into the  best differentiation and IEP practices even as the mentee participates in the “Developing Individualized Education Programs (IEP’s) Overview” Explorations course.

Who’s Using It?

The eMSS program has been used by 1,650 teachers since its inception.

The NTC works with districts to develop individual programs. Currently, districts in seven states are utilizing individualized programming with NTC’s eMSS system, including Chicago Public Schools in Illinois, Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida, and Tulsa Public Schools in Oklahoma.

Additionally, NTC has worked with several school districts, including the Kansas Department of Education and the New York City Department of Education.

Content, Content, Content….

There are approximately 12-15 Exploration courses available each semester (fall, winter, or spring). Math, science, and special education are the major areas of focus in mentor-mentee relationships and with online courses. Fewer than 10% of the courses are related to elementary education, health, and music

Individual mentors are veteran teachers and university mathematicians, scientists, and special education professors. Thirty percent of these mentors are Presidential Award recipients or finalists; more than 40% are National Board Certified, and over 70% have received state or national recognition for their teaching.

Skills addressed specifically through the eMSS program include:  how to teach subject-specific content and prepare to teach challenging courses and curricula; how to accurately represent material; classroom management skills. eMSS participants are also coached to develop confidence in their teaching abilities and a willingness to experiment with new teaching methods.

Online courses (specifically Explorations) and modules cover topics including pedagogy ( “Lesson Design” and “Using Technology in Classrooms”), Common Core ( “Integrating Common Core Math”), special education (“Developing Individualized Education Programs”), and STEM ( “Effective Science Labs”). Course content varies with each semester, and teachers can mix and match according to need.

Explorations modules are developed and designed by curriculum experts from the NTC online professional development team and academic office teams, occasionally drawing on content from partner organizations when necessary.

Training, Integrating, and Implementing

Very little integration and implementation is necessary. There is no training involved. Teachers simply sign up online, or receive enrollment codes from their district. Enrollment codes are used to link teachers to a state, district, university or professional association contract. Once teachers choose a course and enroll with their enrollment code they are ready to go. Courses require an hour of online time (in addition to offline lesson work) each week.

NTC does not integrate with other PD systems.

The eMSS program and online courses can go district-wide, if districts choose to develop an individualized program with the New Teacher Center.

Assessment and Data

Several studies tout the effectiveness of NTC’s online offerings. For example, Horizon conducted a research evaluation on eMSS’s science-specific branch in 2005-2006. The report said that after engaging in the eMSS program 46% of participants said that they were prepared “to a great extent” to teach, and 47% said that they were “somewhat” prepared.

More recently, several master’s and Ph.D. students in graduate education programs have conducted additional studies of the New Teacher Center’s online program. Ph.D. candidate Roberta Gentry conducted a qualitative study on the program’s special education “electronic mentoring,” Among her conclusion, Gentry reports “numerous comments [from mentees] about the comprehensiveness of the professional development provided, the mentoring institute, and the ongoing help and support from the NTC staff.”

Landmines

The effectiveness of the mentor-mentee relationship, as well as online community of new teachers, depends on the participant’s willingness and time to engage in forum discussions. If the teacher is unable to post frequently, it may affect their potential to improve.

Tech/Price/Credit

Tech

The only technology required is a browser-based connection and a computer.

Cost

The e-Mentoring for Student Success (eMSS) program is $1,200 per teacher (though districts will often purchase larger bundles). There are also individual pieces either for free or for purchase to teachers outside of the eMSS program. The “Community” page offers several free resources, as well as 8-week PD modules (“Explorations”) for $200 each and a “No-Nonsense Nurturer” course for $150.

Courses, which require a fee, are available to teachers in eMSS as well as the general public, and accessed through the community page. Courses a “No-Nonsense Nurturer” on-line course that costs $150 per teacher. The No-Nonsense Nurturer course is designed to advance new teachers' and mentors’ understanding of strategies that can be employed to increase student engagement, build constructive relationships with students, and establish the routines, procedures and structures needed to improve student learning (mostly through video).

Credit

A participant will receive a certificate for 30 clock hours of professional development for the successful completion of an Exploration module. For an additional $150, teachers may earn three-quarter graduate credits from the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) for the successful completion of an Exploration module.

Comparables:

Competition in the space relates to both mentor-mentee offerings and online PD modules. A slew of other companies (Coursera, PBS TeacherLine, etc.) offer online PD modules.  Mentor-mentee sites include Educator’s Virtual Mentor, Great Teachers, Great Feedback,  WINGS (Welcoming Interns and Novices with Guidance and Support), and UWeb Teacher Support Network out of the University of Washington.

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PRODUCT VIDEOS

Introduction Video
Introduction Video

PRODUCT ATTRIBUTES

Audience

For Teachers For Teachers

Characteristics

Anytime Anywhere Anytime Anywhere
Differentiated Differentiated
Instructional Skills Instructional Skills
Online Course Online Course
Professional Development Professional Development
Scheduled Scheduled
Social Network Social Network
Video Share Platform Video Share Platform