A beginning agriculture teacher has all of the preceding issues to deal with, as well as managing a sometimes overwhelming FFA program, complete with livestock show and project center responsibilities, possibly dealing with a booster club, to go along with many competitive leadership and judging activities.
As a result of all the factors just mentioned, and a growing demand for agriculture teachers, it is becoming increasingly difficult to locate highly effective young teachers to replace those leaving the profession. Many young teachers leave the profession discouraged, burned out, and disappointed after a year or two in the classroom. We may be seeing the beginning of our profession not being able to meet the demand for replacements.
The Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association (VATAT) has decided to take action and has established a program for professional mentors/mentees. This program, conceived and supported by stakeholders in our profession, has received attention by TEA staff, university professionals, school administrators, ESC staff, and both current and former agriculture teachers.
Many mentor programs utilize peer to peer mentoring using current teachers to mentor new teachers. While there are some valuable programs using this model, the VATAT plan is somewhat different. We utilize retired master teachers that still have the passion for our profession to work with one or two mentees each.
The basic organization of the program includes careful selection of the Mentors, with the expectation that they make several on-site visits during the mentee’s first year on the job. New teachers and their school district filled out a simple application indicating their interest, and were selected based on need. The mentors observe the mentee teaching class, facilitate a teacher/administrator meeting, and work with the young teacher on a variety of topics of interest. There is also on-going email, electronic, and phone calls during the course of the year.
The VATAT mentor staff is comprised of several retired master AFNR teachers who will serve as a great source of knowledge and advice for their first year teacher mentees. In the program the mentors will do several visits with the mentees to evaluate their performance and give suggestions based on the mentor’s own classroom experiences. The mentors also can serve as a wealth of knowledge to answer any questions the mentees may encounter over the course of the year.
Please complete and submit this application and the Administrator Agreement form by August 17, 2019